It’s not unusual for a father and son to head to Phillip Island to enjoy some bike racing, but for this pairing, the weekend’s catch-up at the Australian MotoGP isn’t your run-of-the-mill family outing. Instead, it’s the Gardner clan hitting town from Spain, with Wayne Gardner’s son Remy set to compete in his first local grand prix, 25 years after his dad won the very first 500cc event in Australia in front of more than 90 000 screaming fans.
“It’s hard to believe that 25 years on I’ll be returning to Phillip Island with my own son and racing,” said Wayne at the Phillip Island History of Motorsport museum, as he remembered his historic victory on April 9, 1989 when he edged out American Wayne Rainey.
“Riding in front of all those fans gave me so much energy — it was like putting extra fuel in my petrol tank. Even though there was a lot of wind noise and I had a screaming engine beneath me, I could still feel the energy from the people and hear the roar in the background. That gave me the drive to keep pushing on and on, to the point where I kept finding more and more reserves from the people.
“It was very inspirational, and of course during the race there were about 18 changes of lead and I knew that would have been entertaining for the people. Then of course to lead on the last lap and come over the finish line in first place was something you can’t imagine could happen in your life.”
All the memories of 25 years ago came flooding back for Gardner when he joined 16-year-old Remy in a new display at the Visitor Centre museum, where on show are the leathers, helmet and boots worn on that momentous day by the ‘Wollongong Wiz’, Australia’s first 500 GP world champion in 1987.
Recollections aside, Wayne’s real reason for heading back to Phillip Island is to support Remy as he takes on Sunday’s Moto3 race as a wildcard.
Remy, 16, has been competing in the Spanish CEV (“Campeonato de Espana de Velocidad”) Moto3 series for the last three years, in what Wayne calls “the world championship for juniors”.
In 2014, a best result of third on his KTM in the CEV title has been punctuated with some big crashes (one out of his control), but Remy appears to have been handed large chunks of his dad’s grit and determination to dust himself off and keep going. In September, his hard work was rewarded with a deputisation role in the Misano Moto3 world title round, but now comes the really big one – the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix where he will compete as a wildcard on his favourite track in the world.
Arguably, Remy is the biggest name local wildcard in the Moto3 class (nee 125) at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix since 15-year-old Casey Stoner in 2001 – but this is more than just an exercise to rekindle the celebrated relationship between the Gardner name and the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit. Remy’s a big talent, and his results in CEV, where the top ten have enough hustle to slot straight into world championship racing, prove that.
“It will be awesome racing in Australia. I haven’t actually ridden a Moto3 bike around Phillip Island yet, so it will be a challenge to learn the track,” says Remy. ”But I’m counting on taking the CEV experience that I’ve built up and put it to good use at Phillip Island.
“I am not expecting too much. Even though the CEV competition has been fierce, in reality it’s still a big jump to GPs and it takes a while to get going. But I’ll just take the experience and throw my best foot forward.
“And hopefully it will be another step towards racing in the GPs full-time next year, but I’m under no illusions that I’ve got to step up a lot of things to make that happen, from my fitness to the mental side, and my riding as well.
“I look at Jack Miller as inspiration. He’s put in such a lot of hard work and he’s a really talented rider. This year he’s finally on a good bike and, combined with his talent, the results have started coming in a big way.”
In April, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit announced its sponsorship of Remy and Luca to help their careers moving forward.
“I’m grateful for the backing from Phillip Island. It is my favourite track in the world. When you come over Lukey Heights, it is just an awesome experience, the best fun!” says Remy.
“I’ve raced there twice before, in 2010 and 2011, and did pretty well, with a podium finish each year. My dream is to win a world championship race at Phillip Island one day, just like dad did.”
Remy will be joined on the Moto3 grid at Phillip Island by fellow Australian wildcard Olly Simpson, also on a KTM. Jack Miller will be the other Australian in Moto3 action.
ABOUT REMY GARDNER
Son of 1987 World 500cc Motorcycle Champion Wayne Gardner, Remy has been riding bikes since he was four. However he wasn’t introduced to the racetrack until he was ten years old in 2008.
Remy tried his hand very briefly at motocross and enduro before falling in love with the speed of dirt track and longtrack racing. He follows in the footsteps of other famous Australian riders who started dirt track racing at a young age, including his father Wayne, Mick Doohan, Troy Corser, Troy Bayliss, and more recently Casey Stoner.
For two years Remy honed his skills in both dirt track and longtrack, competing at State and National level before training on the tar, initially on his dirt track bike (supermotard), and then on a Moriwaki 80cc. In NSW Australia where Remy lived at the time, children under the age of 13 are not permitted to compete in road racing, so Remy trained under the guidance of his father and other respected Australian trainers.
In October 2010 Honda Australia invited Remy to represent them at the NSF100 Trophy Worldwide Mini Bike race at Albacete circuit in Spain. He was up against leaders of the NSF100 Championships from around the world in his debut road race, finishing a respectable 29th out of 36 riders. Remy’s Australian road race debut was a resounding success at Phillip Island in December 2010, when he took home the MRRDA Australian Nippers Championship for under 13 year olds.
In 2011 Remy commuted from Australia to Spain to compete in the Pre-GP Moto3 class for the Monlau Competición team, in the 2011 “Campeonato Mediterráneo de Velocidad” (CMV). After finishing second in the championship, TGR made the decision to relocate to Spain in order for Remy to race in the most competitive environment available.
TGR is now based in Barcelona, and Remy has participated in the feeder class to Grand Prix Racing, the “Campeonato de Espana de Velocidad” (CEV) since 2013. He is currently riding for the Madrid based Team Calvo/Laglisse, and sees this, as the apprenticeship he hopes will take him all the way to GPs in the not too distant future.
Moto3 Schedule for October 17, 18, 19 – Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit:
Friday: 10-10.40am (Practice); 2.10-2.50pm (Practice)
Saturday: 10-10.40am (Practice); 1.35-2.15pm (Qualifying)
Sunday: 10.40-11am (Warm-up); 1pm-1.45pm (Race – 23 laps)
Released on behalf of the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit
Contact Ingrid Roepers on mobile 04 111 989 44 or email@example.com