Fifteen-time world motorcycle champion Giacomo Agostini touched down in Melbourne yesterday ahead of this weekend’s 25th running of the Phillip Island Classic, which sees the 75-year-old as one of the main stars of the show.
It’s been five years since ‘Ago’ has come down under. Ahead of his 2013 outing, Agostini said: “The day before I came to Australia, I think to myself ‘Why do I go to Australia – it’s 30 hours of flying.”
So, five years on, why did the greatest motorcycle racer of all time decide to make the long haul back to Oz? “The first reason why I decided to come to Australia again is because I like Phillip Island and I know Fergus [Cameron] (Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit’s managing director) very well, who is a nice person,” Agostini told Bikesportnews.com in Melbourne today.
“I also know Andrew Fox (owner of the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit). The pair both invited me here. I know it’s a long trip, but when you are here, it’s very nice. So I am happy to be here and excited for the Island Classic this weekend,” added the Italian, who racked up a total of 186 starts in his racing career, which covered everything from 250cc, 350cc and 500cc World Championship competition.
What else made it an easier tick of approval for Agostini to fly halfway across the world is the fact this weekend two of the MV Agusta’s at the ‘Island’ are the ones that brought him championship success in the 350cc and 500cc GP classes. The 122 times race winner (68 in the 500cc and 54 in the 350cc) will saddling up on the 350cc version in parade laps across this weekend.
“It’s always exciting when I have the chance to ride my old race bikes, because it allows me to remember my past and history, which is a very nice feeling,” explained Agostini. “It gives me a lot of emotion!”
When asked if Agostini would have liked to have raced at Phillip Island back in his day, when he was at the peak of his powers, he replied: “For sure I would have loved to have raced at Phillip Island.”
Agostini, who has been to the International Island Classic three times so far (1999-03-13) described the 4.445km seaside circuit as 'lovely' to ride on, but at the same time a difficult circuit.
“It is not easy to go fast because you have slow, fast corners and they go up and down which makes for a unique type of track. This is why most riders really enjoy racing at Phillip Island, as it’s not a ‘simple’ circuit. It’s difficult.”
Bikesportnews.com also fired the question to Agostini asking him if he thinks if Marc Marquez could equal or possibly beat his record of eight world championships in the premier class of MotoGP, and Agostini replied with “I think so.”
“I think Marc will be able to either equal or win more than me because he’s young and very fast. So he has every chance to win another four or more MotoGP World Championships.”
But what exactly does Marquez have in him that the other riders don’t? What does Agostini think that Marquez has? “I don’t know,” admitted Agostini.
“If you ask Marc as well, he also doesn’t know. Same question if you ask me why I win many times, I don’t know. I think it’s something inside of you when you are born. It’s a natural gift from God,” concluded Agostini who is looking forward to a great weekend of racing and catching up with everyone.