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ASBK heroes: Malcolm Campbell

By MA Media 0

As we continue to celebrate 35 years of the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK), let’s take a look at the rider who was Superbike champion in the first two seasons (1989-1990): Malcolm ‘Wally’ Campbell.

The term ‘hard-charger’ is an over-used term in motorcycle racing, but the 70-year-old Tasmanian was the embodiment of a competitor who simply refused to wave the white flag. Pitted against seriously impressive company like Rob Phillis and Andrew Johnson who possessed the same like-minded attribute, it was the ideal recipe for electrifying – and often very tense – competition in the early 1980s when Superbike racing became the de-facto national championship before it got the official green light in 1989.

Campbell was also a top-flight production racer, and won the famed Castrol 6-Hour at Amaroo Park in 1983 on a Honda VF750F alongside Rod Cox. Later that year, the then 30-year-old earth-moving contractor would win the highly prized Swann International Series on Honda’s factory RS920 four-stroke.

Two years later, Campbell was in two-stroke triple mode (RS500) for the Swann Series, and won a sensational final race at Surfers Paradise after a thrilling see-sawing battle against four-cylinder opposition in the shape of Wayne Gardner (Honda NSR500) and Briton Rob McElnea (Suzuki XR45). Eventual champion Gardner famously high-sided into a water-filled ditch trying to keep the rampaging Campbell in sight, with his on-board camera brilliantly capturing the incident.

In 1987, Campbell also got to race another trick Honda in the Swann Series alongside his teammate and brother-in-law Rob Scoyler on the high-revving oval-piston NR750.

Campbell’s steely resolve, matched with his skill and bravado, made for a heady racing mix and was the reason he remained a fierce competitor in Australia for three decades – while also making cameos in WorldSBK, world endurance, 500GP (initially in 1988 on the Elf ROC Honda with the wacky hub-centred steering) and other major events across the globe.

Fittingly, the Superbike stalwart joined Phillis in Europe in 1988 to compete in selected rounds of the first-ever season of WorldSBK – and stunned the paddock straight away by storming to pole position at the Osterreichring in Austria – and he also rode at the Oran Park and Manfeild (New Zealand) rounds of the championship that season on the purpose-built Honda RC30.

With the RC30 becoming an even more refined package, Campbell’s victories in the 1989 and 1990 ASBK championships were richly deserved. He also won the Australian Superbike Series in 1985 and 1986 on the Honda VFR750.

It was certainly a hard-fought 1989 ASBK season, and here are two videos from Phillip Island to prove it:

Following on from Campbell’s successes, a New Zealander by the name of Aaron Slight became the only international rider to win an ASBK title, and we’ll take a look at him next time out.