24 January 2016
McWilliams leads Team UK to Phillip Island glory
Jeremy McWilliams shines at Phillip Island as Team UK retain the International Challenge Classic title.
Jeremy McWilliams led Team UK to a second successive victory in the Phillip Island International Challenge Classic meeting in Australia on Sunday.
The former Grand Prix star played a pivotal role as the UK team reversed a 12-point deficit to Australia from the opening day to retain the crown by 99 points, with Ireland – competing in the event for the very first time – finishing an impressive third.
With 693 points to Australia's 594, Team UK emerged comfortable winners and McWilliams was thrilled to clinch the spoils once more for Roger Winfield, who supplies the machinery for the top British riders at the event.
“The team was pretty nervous across the board this weekend after a lack of track time on Friday. In the first race on Saturday we simply weren't up to speed, but race three was where we really turned it on,” McWilliams said.
“Compared to the last few years, the Aussies have lost a bit of depth and that was particularly evident today.”
Australia led the way following the opening two races on Saturday, which were won by Beau Beaton, who was back in action at the event after missing last year's instalment.
Beaton twice had the edge over McWilliams (Harris Yamaha), with Jed Metcher finishing third for the Aussies in each race.
However, the balance of power shifted on Sunday as seven of the UK's riders finished inside the top ten in the opening race to claim a huge points haul, while only Metcher (Harris Honda) and Steve Martin (Katana Suzuki) managed to nail down any decent points for the home nation.
Saturday's winner Beaton endured bad luck, retiring from third place in the opening race on Sunday with a mechanical issue.
Metcher rode brilliantly to take his first International Challenge win from McWilliams and he repeated the feat in the fourth and final race of the weekend, with Ulsterman McWilliams again settling into the runner-up spot as the pair finished on equal points (156) in the Individual category.
It was the second tie in five years for the prestigious Ken Wootton Perpetual Trophy, won in 2015 by Ryan Farquhar.
The duo finished well clear of third-placed Steve Martin (148), with UK riders then filling the remaining positions in the top eight, with Conor Cummins (Harris Honda, 140) in fourth from John McGuinness (Harris Honda, 133), Farquhar (Harris Yamaha, 132), Glen Richards (Harris Suzuki, 132) and James Hillier (Harris Yamaha, 119).
Beaton finished ninth overall in the Individual standings on the Irving Vincent Black Lightning with 118pts.
Three-time Aussie Superbike champion Shawn Giles (Katana) failed to finish two races after a slew of engine problems, while compatriot Cameron Donald (McIntosh Suzuki) only made it through 50 per-cent of the programme as well.
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