The strength of the BMW M4 Coupé is evident in every detail.
Cape Town – Round 5 of the Mike Hopkins Regional motorcycle series, at the weekend at Killarney circuit, could not have been more different from its rain-lashed predecessor. A soft winter sun in a sky the colour of washed-out denim kept the track dry (except for a small mud-patch on the inside of Turn 3) and there was only one fall the whole day: 15-year-old Hayden Jonas - and he bounces!
Ronald Slamet, his Mike Hopkins ZX-10R now detuned to SuperGP spec and wearing the harder rubber prescribed for the National series, walked away with both Superbike races, but the second win was by no means as easy as it looked.
The harder-compound tyres, to Slamet’s annoyance, actually wore out quicker than the softer compounds that are still legal for Regionals. His crew will not only have to develop a whole new set of baseline suspension settings if Slamet is to survive the longer SuperGP races, he will have to change his riding style as well.
The drama began right on the start line as Jonas, the only 600 Challenge rider in Class A, started from the front row for the first time in a Superbike race and surprised everybody – including himself – by grabbing the hole-shot and leading the field into the first corner. He survived Turn 1 but went into Turn 2 way too hot, lost the front and slid off into the dirt.
Slamet then moved into the lead and went away at about a second a lap while Malcolm Rapson and Gerrit Visser (each also on a Kawasaki ZX-10R) battled it out for second all the way to the line, finishing 0.187sec apart with Rapson in front when it counted.
Twenty seconds later Quintin Ebden (BMW S1000RR) got the best of a race-long battle with Jan-Lucas de Vos (Kawasaki ZX-10R) and Andre Calvert (KC Transport ZX-6R) for Class B line honours that saw the three finish in that order in less than half a second.
But the dice of the race was the five-way Class C brawl between Brent Walters (Alu-Trellis R1), Jacques Ackermann (Jotim Steel R1), Kurt Fortune (Blaze CBR1000RR), David Enticott (Motorwise Daytona 675) and Ruan de Lange (Asap Honda CBR600RR), all of whom finished within less than two seconds.
Slamet got the best of it at the start but could not shake Rapson this time as the former champion put in a career best lap of 1m12.143; Rapson finally lost the tow just two laps from the flag and came home four seconds adrift.
Visser was third after an early duel with Trevor Westman fizzled out as the seven-year-old Ocean Sizzler R1 again suffered brake fade halfway through the race and Westman dropped back to finish seventh behind Jonas, Calvert and Hilton Redlinghuys on the Thruxton ZX-10R
The Class C fight was, if anything, even more intense, with Ackermann, Walters, De Lange, Fortune and Enticott swopping places repeatedly before finishing in that order, covered by just 4.4 seconds.
The long-awaited rematch between Warren Guantario (Calberg ER6) and Graeme Green on the Thruxton ER6 was a non-starter as Green was sidelined in both races by contaminated fuel.
Instead Gauntario found himself under a attack from a very determined Danie Maritz, riding the same Suzuki GSX-R750 with which he won the 1986 regional title. Maritz finally passed Guantario under braking into the very last corner, to win by 0.738sec, while Xander du Plessis (Hypower ZX-6R) and Keagan Smith (Honda CBR600) disputed third all the way to the line, with Du Plessis 0.117sec ahead at the moment of truth.
Five seconds later Wesley Jones (Jack Hammer SV650) got the best of an electrifying four-way dice with Mike van Rensburg (Pragma ER6), JP Friederich (Calberg SV650 and) Andrew Liebenberg (Calberg ER-6) that saw all four cross the line in 1.3 seconds.
Guantario and Green made the early running until Green was slowed by recurring fuel problems, as which point Maritz reeled the Calberg rider, passed him two laps from home and won by an emphatic 2.113 seconds.
Du Plessis was a distant fourth, ahead of Jones and Tim Clark, getting the best out of a Suzuki GSX-R750 that was five years older than he was. Behind them Liebenberg, Smith, Van Rensburg and Friederich took up where they had left off earlier, banging elbows for eight laps to come home in that order, covered by just three seconds.