Rain ended play early, but Sydney’s International Festival of Speed hit the Forgotten Era lap record out of the park.
Words: Hamish Cooper
Photography: Phil Aynsley
Ex-Grand Prix racer Jeremy McWilliams and Aaron Morris, one of Australia’s most under-rated riders, took Aussie classic racing to a new level at Sydney’s QBE International Festival of Speed.
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In dry conditions on the first day of racing, their titanic duel shaved more than a second off Sydney Motorsport Park’s Period Six Forgotten Era 1300cc class.
Not only that, but the first race of the five-leg QBE TT Cup on the ex-GP circuit saw both riders circulating under McWilliams’ record he set in 2017.
Morris had also gone well under the lap record in qualifying on the Suzuki Katana he had raced to two wins and a podium at January’s Phillip Island International Challenge.
As the weekend unfolded, several scenarios were set to play out to decide who would take out the ‘winner takes all’ five-leg QBE TT Cup challenge, a new feature event on the programme.
Sadly, the weather intervened and the meeting ended before the final two races could be run.
In a pattern that would last the weekend, McWilliams got the holeshot, while Morris struggled with the Katana’s clutch in the same way he had at Phillip Island.
Nevertheless, the race soon developed into a duel between these two and they finished more than 11sec ahead of the field.
It was a nail-biting spectacle that McWilliams later admitted was the hardest race he’d been in for a very long time. It was only in the last lap that Morris managed to pull a second out on McWilliams. Before that they had crossed the start-finish line five times separated by just 0.3sec.
Richards finished third, just beating Byrne with a cunning slipstream on the line. Rutter was fifth with Aussie Alex Pickett (Suzuki GSX 1100) sixth.
McGuinness was sidelined on lap three when an electrical connection broke and could only gesticulate his frustration at his team-mates.
Read more and view more images in the July/August 2019 issue of CR – on sale now!