Australian PI Classic team ‘strongest ever’ says captain

Wolfenden with Corser's bike for the 2018 PI Classic
Wolfenden with Corser's bike for the 2018 PI Classic Picture: Russell Colvin

Team Australia’s Phillip Island Classic team captain Rex Wolfenden believes the host side for 2018’s set of races will be the strongest ever fielded and shored up with the addition of two-time WorldSBK Champion Troy Corser.

Wolfenden, a well-respected motorcycle tuner at his at his own company, T-Rex Racing Developments, says that with Corser on board it gives the Aussie team an added boost leading into the 25th running of the International Island Classic.

Corser’s history dealing with the Wolfenden family in fact goes back nearly 25 years when Rex’s elder brother Clyde guided Corser to the 1993 Australian Superbike Championship aboard the Winfield Honda RC30 machine.

“For myself, it will be a good and enjoyable experience working with a professional rider, who has been a two times world champion,” said Rex Wolfenden. “To think that Troy was guided by Clyde many years ago and now he will be riding one of my bikes is a great honour in itsself.”

With Corser’s expertise on two wheels and hopefully with Wolfenden’s Honda Harris F1 engines making the right power and the right speed, Wolfenden is more than confident that the 46-year-old will be right up the front come the final weekend of January.

Wolfenden also summed up the rest of the team to today. First off the rank was Scott Webster, who has been a part of the Australian team since the late Ken Wotton started the whole International Challenge many years ago.

“Scott may not be our ‘trump card’, but he still does an incredible job and decent lap times, so it’s great to have him in the team for that reason,” explained Wolfenden.

“Paul Byrne is certainly a great new inclusion for the team and has proved himself for the past few years now while riding for the Irish team and will for sure be a there or thereabouts.

Alex Phillis, who will once again pilot a Suzuki XR69 will be another rider who will 100% be up the frontend of the field without a shadow of a doubt. This year the 23-year-old was on route for a solid top three result in race one, before suffering a flat tyre which resulted in a DNF. The youngster did bounce in the fourth race to win that, beating Jeremy McWilliams by 0.475 seconds.
Wolfenden has regarded the campaigners such as Steve Martin and Shawn Giles being reliable troops for the team.

“Both Shawn and Steve have been on the team long enough and have the racing knowledge on knowing what’s involved to get the job done. Experience blokes in Cam [Donald] and Beau [Beaton] are nothing short of guns for the team as they are will always be superfast no matter what happens.”

Wolfenden would argue that Beaton would be one of the most likely people, if the Irving Vincent 1300cc bike of his doesn’t fall over, to win overall.

This is quite true, as if you cast your mind back to 2016, if Beaton’s bike didn’t drop a valve in race three, while in third place behind McWilliams, Wolfenden believes both McWilliams and Jed Metcher would not have beaten Beaton that weekend, as he did score two wins on the Saturday and a third place finish in race four.

Since Wolfenden has taken over the helm of the Aussie team, Beaton has been the most consistent point’s scorer for the Australian team, every year. However, he has had very few crashes and a couple of break downs, which always takes points off you.
“It’s all about doing four good races,” expressed Wolfenden.

With the in conclusion of the big American names, such as Colin Edwards, Jason Pridmore, Jake Zemke and the extra British BSB and NW 200 riders, which adds to the already strong UK team, Wolfenden believes next year’s racing will be even more tighter and closer at the front than it has ever been before.

“The key for any team winning will always be down to all the team members having four good races. You don’t have to win, but the main thing is to make sure you finish. The team that will win, will have the bikes that will go the distance and get four good results out of each rider,” explained Wolfenden.

The International Challenge is hardly endurance racing, because at the end of the day the races are sprint races, but the old girls get taxed pretty hard.

Wolfenden concluded: “It’s quite difficult to do four out four really good races. My team was good last year and I believe we were unlucky not to win the International Challenge. However, my team for next year would have to be my strongest team ever which I have put together.”

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