By Paul Dawson and Trevor Hedge
While there have been numerous proposals for a TT style race in Australia, in both Tasmania and on NSW’s Oxley Highway, the latter of which did for some time appear to be gaining plenty of traction. The latest proposal comes out of Queensland and is dubbed the ‘Sunshine Coast International TT’.
As is the norm for such proposals, generally there is the initial bluster and media campaigns, which are generally backed up with scant detail.
However, as part of the event application process, two public consultation meetings were held in Maleny on Tuesday and were attended by over 600 locals who will be directly affected by the event, and some interested outsiders.
The mountain roads in the sunshine coast hinterland attract great numbers of recreational motorcycle riders to the town of Maleny each weekend, on a sunny day the cafes are full and bikes occupy the parking spots along the main street.
The meeting outlined the plans for the SSCTT event and gave the local community their chance to have their say on the proposed event, this event is very much still in the early stages of planning; public consultation takes place while event planning is still in it’s infancy.
The event is proposed to be run over 4 days at the beginning of December in 2017, the 47km public roads course includes the pick of the twisty roads in the Blackall ranges surrounding Maleny, including the Maleny-Stanley River Rd and comically named but exhilarating Bald Knob Rd.
The proposal is for four classes of competition, limited to 20 riders in each class. Race classes have not been finalised but are expected to be Superbike, BEARS F1, Sidecar and possibly Supersport.
Event promoter David Rollins stated that the entries will only be open to the “top world-class road racers”, implying that a pre-selection process would take place before entries would be accepted. The time trial format similar to the IOMTT means that riders will take off at 20-second intervals and complete 3 or 4 laps.
In a contrast to the IOMTT format, spectators would be limited to six designated viewing areas around the course, although with much of the course bordered by private land, how this will be policed was a matter for concern amongst some of the residents.
David Rollins states that spectators for the event will be capped at 16,500 for the first year, so as not to overwhelm the town of Maleny; entry will be by ticket sales only and he expects that the event will bring over $8.5 Million to the local economy.
Maleny is a small town, known for its tranquillity and peacefulness, it’s analogous with Byron Bay or Nimbin before spiritual commercialism, the thought of 16,500 motorcycle racing fans was not well received by a small but vocal portion of the crowd, many of whom have a negative attitude towards motorcycle riders based on the perceived behaviour of recreational riders.
Sunshine Coast District Police Inspector Jason Overland was on hand to answer questions of safety and gave an interesting insight into how the Queensland police service view motorsport activities especially when taken into context with the hard-line stance taken by the QPS on Hoons and dangerous driving. When asked does this event promote dangerous driving, do the police support it? He stated that there was no link between dangerous driving and Motorsport. When asked if we have a problem with Motorcyclists speeding? He quoted local traffic crash data that shows in the last year there have been 57 injuries on the local roads, 35 of those were cars, 22 were bikes with no motorcycle fatalities.
After the presentation there were plenty of questions from the assembled crowd, many were concerned how this event would affect access to their property, some wanted to find a way to shut it down before it got any further, but when one of the crowd directly addressed the room for a show of support, the outcome was 70 per cent in favour; as always, it seems the vocal minority may need some convincing.
Sunshine Coast TT International TT
- Pro-riders only
- 4 classes including sidecars
- 20 riders per class
- 20 second time delay between riders
- 3-4 laps @ 47km
- 4 days early December 2017
- School holidays
- 6 spectator zones
- 2500 local spectators
- 7770 state wide
- 5000 interstate
- 100 international
- Capped at 16500 visitors
- O/night stay visitors 9000
- Spend o/night $167/night per person (Qld tourism figures) $5,300,000
- $8,612,000 total revenue