Szoke’s ice-cool Island Classic preparation
Multi-time Canadian superbike champion Jordan Szoke is embracing the big chill ahead of his maiden appearance at the International Island Classic, with the 2020 event to be held at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on the Australia Day long weekend (January 24-26).
Far from being confined to the indoors during a typically stinging Canadian winter, the man from Ontario has instead been practicing on his ‘ice’ bike to keep himself in the groove ahead of joining the American team for the showpiece International Challenge teams event at the Island Classic, which will also feature squads from Australia and the United Kingdom.
His more orthodox preparation has also included cycling and “multi-discipline motorcycling”.
The 18-time Canadian road racing champion – 13 in superbike and five in 600 supersport – will also be competing at the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit for the first time, so his enthusiasm ahead of the Island Classic is palpable.
“I’ve always wanted to race on Phillip Island,” said Szoke. “It’s a great event at a wicked race track. And I’ve always wanted to race the big classic bikes because it looks like fun. So when (American team captain) Dave (Crussell) approached me I was excited to go.”
Like Valentino Rossi in MotoGP, Szoke still competes full-time at 40-plus years of age and continues to give the younger generation plenty to think about. Aboard a Kawasaki, he finished second in the 2019 Canadian superbike title, winning two of the five rounds outright.
“I am looking forward to having a race in the middle of our Canadian winter when we aren’t actively racing in our schedule,” continued Szoke. “I am looking forward to riding at this particular event while still at the top of my game.”
Baptism of fire
Szoke won’t get a chance to ride the Yamaha-based CMR FJ 1250 until he lobs at Phillip Island, but despite the truncated lead-up, and the vexing issue of learning a new and blindingly fast circuit, he’s still expected to be one of the lynchpins for Team America alongside the likes of Josh Hayes, Larry Pegram, Michael Gilbert and Taylor Knapp. Hayes is a superstar, and was victorious in the final International Challenge race last year.
The American team also features Josh Hayes’ wife, Melissa Paris – the first woman to compete in the International Challenge – as well as Brian Filo, Michael Gilbert, Jorge Gurerro, Bruce Lind, Joe Pethoud, Robert Ruwoldt and riding captain, Crussell.
Team America is expected to push defending champion Australia all the way in the 2020 International Challenge, with the Aussie outfit featuring David Johnson, Shawn Giles, Jed Metcher, Craig Ditchburn, Aaron Morris, Scott Webster, Cameron Donald, Steve Martin, Beau Beaton, John Allen and Alex Phillis.
Meanwhile, the UK is returning to the Island Classic in 2020 after a one-year hiatus, with Alex Sinclair and Michael Neeves expected to be their major point scorers.
Historic racing across all eras and capacities
The Island Classic, is now in its 27th year, is the largest historic motorcycle racing event in the Southern Hemisphere. The weekend honours a century of motorcycling in three action-packed days, with the International Challenge just one element of an event that celebrates the splendour of historic racing across all levels.
As well the International Challenge, the Island Classic includes 50 other races for machines across the six historic racing categories: Veteran (up to 1919), Vintage (1920-1945), Classic (1946-1962), Post Classic (1963-1972), Forgotten Era (1973-1982) and New Era (1983-1990).
Qualifying begins on Friday for all classes, followed by a full program of racing on Saturday and Sunday. Close to 400 solo bikes will compete at Phillip Island, where the six classes will face one qualifying session and five races.
Individual accolades will also include the Phil Irving Perpetual Trophy, awarded to the rider who accrues the most points outside the International Challenge races.
Pre-purchase tickets now on sale
Discounted pre-purchase tickets and on-site camping will be available until Thursday, January 23 at www.islandclassic.com.au Alternatively buy tickets at the gate from 8am each race-day morning.
Save by purchasing in advance with a three-day adult pass at $84.00* and packaged with four nights camping at the circuit just $167* for a perfect Australia Day long weekend away. Children 15 and under are free.
For more information, visit www.islandclassic.com.au
*Ticket prices quoted are in advance. Buy early online and save on gate prices.