Killarney, Cape Town – For those diehard motorsport fans willing to brave the midwinter cold, Round 5 of the Mike Hopkins Regional Motorcycle series this weekend offers racing with a twist – met eish, so to speak.
Even if the circuit is dry – and that’s in the lap of the weather gods – track temperatures will be very low, reducing the grip of even electrically pre-warmed tyres. And that means that the latest 150kW superbikes will be unable to leverage their huge power advantage into acceleration out of corners without risking, at the very least, lurid wheelspin and (worst case) possible high-sides.
For once, skilled riders with iron nerves (or no nerves at all!) on older bikes will be at less of a disadvantage against the newer machinery, opening the door for former short-circuit champion Trevor Westman on the seven-year-old Ocean Sizzler R1 to take the fight to the theoretically faster Kawasaki ZX-10Rs of current Regional champion Ronald Slamet and former titleholder Malcolm Rapson.
It may even be possible for the top 600 Challenge machines – the Kawasaki ZX-6Rs of Hayden Jonas and Andre Calvert – to get within striking distance of the Class A leaders.
Expect surprises at the sharp end of the field.
Last time out, in some of the wettest conditions we’ve seen, Class B hero Jacque Brits on the Lize S1000 RR surprised everybody (including, we suspect, himself) with a magnificent ride to fifth overall, which later became fourth thanks to Westman’s jump-start penalty.
Either way, he was the only Class B rider who wasn’t lapped by world-class Superstock 1000 rider David ‘McFlash’ McFadden on the day and, given that neither McFadden nor born-again racer Hilton Redlinghuys (who was third) has entered Round 5 of the Regionals, the opportunity is there for Brits to do better yet – even with Class B stalwarts Calvert and Wessel Kruger (Motorcycles & Bits ZX-12R) to keep him honest.
Class C is likely to be a Jacques Ackermann benefit; the Jotim Steel R1 rider has found impressive form of late, but could still lose out to the ever-consistent Wayne Arendse (Honda CBR600RR). Mention must also be made of Vossie Vosloo, who broke a couple of ribs in a huge crash in qualifying at the June meeting, but will be out there again just four weekends later on the Wijnland R1.
Giant-killer Brandon Story will not be on the start-line for the Powersport races, as Andrew Liebenberg is back from Europe and back on the Calberg ER-6 that Story rode last time out – but also back, for the first time this season, will be former SA Supersport race-winner Graeme Green, out for the first time on the Thruxton ER-6 and ready to give arch-rival Warren ’the Starfish’ Guantario a hard time, just as he did in some epic showdowns last year.
Keeping them honest will be JP Friederich (Calberg ER-6) and Chris Williams (DEA ER-6) with leading Clubman Class riders Xander du Plessis (Hypower ZX-6R), Keagan Smith (Honda CBR600) also in the mix.