Twenty-four historic two-stroke Grand Prix motorcycles have arrived as a permanent exhibit at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit just in time for this weekend’s Island Classic.
The display of the Grand Prix bikes opens today at $17.50 for adults and $8.50 for children. However, entry will be discounted to $9.50 for Island Classic patrons this weekend.
They were found by Andrew Fox and bought from two Italian private collectors by Melbourne’s Fox family, owners of the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit.
The collection consists of 15 Aprilias and nine Cagivas raced in Grand Prix between 1987 and 2003 by racers such as Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Loris Capirossi, Eddie Lawson and John Kocinski.
Andrew says the bikes are “all in perfect condition and I believe we have the finest collection of Cagivas anywhere in the world”.
He says they decided to search for a significant collection after last year securing rights for the MotoGP and World Superbike for another decade.
“We are the only circuit in the world with 10-year tenures on both these world championships and this collection launches our desire to build a world-class exhibition of grand prix motorcycles that befits our circuit,” he says.
Aprilia Grand Prix collection
The Aprilias include world title-winning machines of Rossi in 1997 (125), Biaggi in 1995 (250), Capirossi in 1998 (250) and Marco Melandri (250) in 2002.
There are also three RSV500s in the collection, including the Aprilia Jeremy McWilliams rode to pole position in the Australian GP at Phillip Island in 2000.
The Alessandro Gramigni bike of 1992 was the machine Aprilia won its first world title on in 125cc. Kazuto Sakata also had success on the 125cc bike of 1994 and 1998.
Rossi’s 1997 Aprilia RSV125 is a treasured member of the collection. The bike rode the Italian to 125cc dominance with 11 victories, 13 podiums and a world title and launched his career on the world stage. He took two titles with Aprilia, in the smaller classes (1997- 125cc; 1999 – 250cc), before he moved up to 500cc racing and increased his world championship count to nine.
But it was the quarter-litre class where Aprilia really made its mark on the world stage.
Biaggi scored three consecutive 250cc world titles for Aprilia from 1994 to 1996. His 1995 bike which scored eight wins and 12 podiums is a highlight of the collection.
Cagiva Grand Prix collection
The Cagiva bikes of the Phillip Island collection represent 500cc racing from 1987 to 1994 with riders including Lawson, Kocinski, Randy Mamola, Alex Barros, Doug Chandler and Aussie Mat Mladin, who was plucked straight from an Aussie superbike-winning season in Australia to go GP racing in 1993.
The nine bright red Cagivas on display include the race-winning machines of Lawson who scored the first Cagiva victory in Hungary in the wet in 1992 and Kocinski who led the final Cagiva charge in 1993 and 1994 with wins in the US and Australia.
During that eight-year period, Cagiva scored three wins and a total of 13 podiums, before withdrawing from competition at the end of 1994 due to the financial squeeze of competing at the highest level of road racing – ironically after its best year of competition when Kocinski won at Sydney’s Eastern Creek and finished third in the championship.
The story of Cagiva is a true Italian melodrama that started in 1978 with an ambitious plan by the two Castiglioni brothers from Varese, Gianfranco and Claudio, establishing an Italian team to go 500cc racing and take on the all- conquering Japanese makes. They purchased the old Aermacchi factory beside Lake Varese and renamed it Cagiva, after their father CAstiglioni GIovanni of VArese.
The 15-year Cagiva 500cc campaign ended due to lack of funds just as the brand was tasting 500cc glory and success.
Phillip Island Classic
Visitors to the Phillip Island Classic this weekend are in for some rare treats, highlighted by demo laps of the rare and innovative Britten V1000 motorcycle from the early 1990s.
Fittingly the bike, designed and hand-built by Kiwi John Britten, will be ridden by nine-time New Zealand superbike champion Andrew Stroud, 49.
The Island Classic begins with practice and qualifying tomorrow (January 27) and on the Saturday and Sunday there will be 56 races, starting with pre-WWI machines and taking in different eras and capacities. Sidecars will also join solos on the program.
The annual event also includes the International Challenge, with Australia taking on defending champion United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand and America.
Riders in action will include the UK’s Jeremy McWilliams, John McGuiness and Peter Hickman; Australia’s Cam Donald, Steve Martin, Shawn Giles and Jed Metcher; Ireland’s Cormac Conroy and Hilton Hincks, US new recruit Barrett Long and Kiwis Damien Kavney and Damian Mackie.
- Dates: Friday to Sunday, January 27-29
- Tickets: On sale at www.islandclassic.com.au and at the gate
- Prices: advance three-day adult pass $80 and children 15 and under free.
- On-circuit camping: four nights for $75 per person, purchased in advance.
- Times: gates open at 8am each day, qualifying and racing from 9am.