The proposed 2017 Sunshine Coast International TT will face challenges from an active local protest group and will present challenges to the international riders competing.
I rode the proposed 47.2km circuit around the Maleny region at the weekend with a group of six local riders who frequently ride these roads.
They said there was about 60-70% support for the race, but said the protesters would be vocal as they were several years ago in trying to stop a Woolworths opening in their hilltop town.
Already a Facebook protest group called Peaceful Roads Sunshine Coast has been formed to oppose the four-day event, complaining that it will increase the number of riders who visit the area throughout the year.
Despite speaking with several residents, business people, newsagents, restaurateurs, hoteliers, etc, I could not find one person who objected to the race.
Meanwhile, a petition of support for the TT event has been started and the Sunshine Coast Regional Council has a website for people to leave comments about the planned event.
SSC TT promoter David Rollins says the event will attract 16,500 spectators from around the world and inject more than $8.5 million into the local economy. However, if the protest group is right about attracting more riders all year, it will be a much bigger economic boost.
If approved, the SSC TT is planned to be similar to the famous Isle of Man TT (IOM TT) with sanctioning by FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, the world motorcycle sport governing body) and attracting the cream of international road racers.
It will present the riders with some dangerous challenges like the IOM TT, but a little different.
Instead of stone walls, humpback bridges, phone polls and phone boxes as obstacles, the SSC TT challenges include treacherous off-camber corners, gravel spills, massive trees close to the road edge and plenty of bumps and potholes.
The course has more than 400 corners and is planned to start opposite the Maleny State High School in Bunya St on the southern side of town before weaving through a couple of suburban streets in the town’s outskirts.
It then heads west along the sparsely populated Stanley River Rd which rollercoasters over the ridges of the Blackall Ranges presenting spectacular 360-degree views and long, sweeping corners.
Riders should reach speeds around 300km/h through this section with airborne bikes over several of the crests.
The road then twists and winds down through the forest with plenty of tight turns and little runoff.
At the junction with the Peachester Rd, riders will turn east through a short and bumpy forest section before hitting a straight where top speeds should be reached.
Before Peachester, they will make a sharp turn north on Bald Knob Rd which presents the most challenges as it winds through dense forest.
The road then runs along the side of the hill heading east with gob-smacking views of the Glasshouse Mountains.
At the end of the road, riders will turn a sharp left on the Landsborough-Maleny Rd and climb the mountain into the cutting locals call the Icebox because it is usually several degrees cooler.
They turn west at Mountain View Rd past The Terrace seafood restaurant which will have an excellent view of the racers. (Don’t forget to try their famous seafood chowder while you’re there!)
The last turn is right into McCarthy Rd and back to the school.
Local rider Andy Rockliff who has been to the IOM TT three times and helped escort me over the course says it is similar because it is twisty and narrow.
“But the IOM circuit is smooth and well maintained. This is really bumpy in places,” he says.
Local resident and BMW rider Ian Beaton believes the biggest challenges for the event will be securing the closures of the Landsborough-Maleny Rd for six hours a day as it is the main access road into the town.
“There are a lot of questions to be answered but given the time frame there is plenty of time to fix any concerns,” he says.
Ian and Andy suggest the organisers follow the example of the IOM TT and get the local charity and community groups involved in catering, carparks, camping grounds, transport etc, so they can raise money.
The SSC TT organisers plan to bus spectators to the six grandstands located around the track and not allow them to roam freely as they do at the IOM TT.
(Thanks to Ian, Andy, Glenn Savage, Rod Richards, Hugh Fathers and David Pearce for taking the time to show me around the course.)