Cape Town's annual RST 8 Hour Endurance race has become an international cult event, attracting entries from the UK, US and Mauritius as well as top South African riders.
Run on Killarney's tough and twisty, one-kilometre “K” circuit, it's open to standard four-stroke singles of less than 150cc and modified two-strokes of less than 65cc. The race began in 1982 as an end-of-season fun event and the 2010 edition was named in honour of the man who first dreamed up the idea, Jimmy Coggs.
Multiple former winner RST fielded a well-prepared Honda CBR150 for team principal Jonny Towers, former SA Superbike champion Hudson Kennaugh and local hotshots Trevor Westman and Warren “Wozza” Guantario - plus a second bike for Kallie van den Berg, Adrian Gibbon and UK riders Chris Walker and Phil Ashley.
But the hot favourites were the “works” Bikefin Honda squad of David “McFlash” McFadden, Bjorn Estment and Brent Harron - each an SA Supersport contender - who were expected to set a blistering pace.
The 2010 8 Hour claimed more than its fair share of casualties: Aran van Niekerk broke his right collarbone in practice, leaving his father Mark van der Walt and brother Nicholas van der Walt to share the AVN CBR150, and Janine Mitchell broke a collarbone in qualifying, wrecking the Speed Queen CBR150 in the process.
At that point the 'Tank Girls Team' of Skinny, Tarryn Sproates, Justin Massyn and Scott Aspden sportingly offered their CBR150 to the remaining Speed Queens.
Westman put the RST machine on pole with a sparkling 50.550sec, 0.417sec quicker than McFadden's best on the Bikefin machine, and elected to start.
He pulled off a faultless Le Mans start and took the lead for the first six laps before McFadden came steaming past.
The works crew held the lead until midway through the second hour, when first the RST bike and then the Nomads CBR150 of Gerrit Visser, Ryan Snyman, Andrew Liebenberg and Jurgen van Onselen, and the BB machine (Hayden Jonas, Luca Agostinelli and Bernard Haupt) relegated them to fourth.
A few minutes before the two-hour mark the BB machine went down in Hoals when the chain came off the rear sprocket and the safety bike came out for four laps while the marshals helped Haupt to manhandle the bike to a safe position.
Scarcely had the safety bike been parked in the pits when it was out again; Michelle Marais of the Speed Queens and Michael Hall on the Starlight CBR150 collided in almost the same place and crashed heavily.
The whole field closed up behind the safety bike for nine laps while the ambulance crew picked up Marais. But this 17-year-old from Gauteng is made of tough stuff; she was soon back in the pits, sporting a huge plaster on the side of her neck.
Then, right on the three-hour mark, Estment went down hard, injuring his right ankle; the crash put him out of action for the rest of the day, cost the Bikefin team six laps and dropped them (briefly) to 12th.
Meanwhile the RST team was running what amounted to a scheduled service around the K circuit, circulating at a steady 50sec a lap no matter who was riding and reeling off 266 laps by the halfway mark.
After four hours they were four laps ahead of the Nomads and 11 ahead of the two-man Durban team of Malcolm Rudman and Chris Landsberg, neither of whom had lapped under 51sec but who kept the shiny side up and racked up the laps without incident.
The Bikefin team was sixth, a disastrous 18 laps off the pace after three heavy crashes. With Estment out of it Harron and McFlash would need a miracle to catch the leaders. But neither was about to give up and they began to up the pace as the race ground on into the afternoon.
McFadden laid down the fastest lap of the race - a near-record 49.477sec - during the fifth hour. That, plus two ultra-slick pit-stops, gave them back a lap and brought them back up to fourth By this time the two-rider teams were taking strain, particularly the Speed Queens, so shortly after the halfway point Marais was back out on their borrowed bike. Her first session was a little shaky but she soon settled down into a smooth rhythm, peeling off consistent laps.
The Van der Walt father-and-son team recruited SA Supersport 600cc hotshot James Egan to spell them on the AVN machine but Rudman and Landsberg kept on taking turn and turn about, riding within their comfort zone and not taking any chances.
After six hours they were fourth behind RST, the Nomads and the Bikefin pair, but McFlash and Harron were on a mission and in the seventh hour they passed the leading bike to pull back another lap.
That was challenge not to be ignored; both the RST and Nomads riders upped the pace and the next hour saw some of the hardest riding of the day as the top three teams went at it as if they were in a sprint race.
The result was perhaps inevitable as Van Onselen crashed heavily shortly before the start of the last hour, damaging the Nomads bike too badly to continue and promoting Bikefin to second and the Banana Boys to third, albeit 23 laps adrift as Rudman and Landsberg concentrated on bringing their matt-black bike home in one piece.
But the day belonged to the RST and Bikefin teams, who kept up a blistering pace right to the end, lapping the Durban riders once again in the final-hour.
And then the eight hours were gone and a special chequered flag emblazoned with the late Jimmy Coggs' face (this whole thing was his idea, remember?) was waved for the 29 bikes that were still running - from 33 starters - to bring a sudden silence to the circuit.
The RST bike had run flawlessly all day, turning 266 laps in the first four hours and 273 in the second half of the race for a total of 539, considerably less than their 2008 record of 551 but 16 ahead of the Bikefin riders, who racked up 248 laps in their crash-strewn first half but a superb 275 in the final four hours.
Rudman and Landsberg recorded 515 laps, slowed only by a minor tumble for Landsberg in the third hour, four laps ahead of veterans Donald Craig, Wesley Jones and JP Friedrich on the Craigs CBR150.
Fittingly, Marais rode the final stretch for the Speed Queens to bring the bike home 27th, on 438 laps.
1 Jonny Towers/Hudson Kennaugh/Trevor Westman/Warren Guantario - 539 laps
2 David McFadden/Bjorn Estment/Brent Harron - 523
3 Malcolm Rudman/Chris Landsberg - 515
4 Donald Craig/Wesley Jones/JP Friedrich - 511
5 Brandon Storey/Ayden van Rooijen/Brandon Haupt/Roberto Agostinelli - 510
6 Nicholas van der Walt/Mark van der Walt/James Egan - 503
7 Anthony Raynard/John Wakefield/Caleb Tennant - 501
8 Jacques Peskens/William Wakefield/Tony Sterianos - 498
9 Gerrit Visser/Jimmy Pantony/John Craig - 496
10 Craig Rabie/Rob Boyd/Brad Scrooby/Tim Eastwood - 496
11 Raymond Alexander/Michael Mostert/Adrian van der Merwe/Dalton Walters - 491
12 Alfie Swanepoel/Dean Ferreira/Brendon Schulz - 491
13 Brandon Cretu/Chris Sarbora - 489
14 David Bolding/Tony Jones/MalcolmRapson - 488
15 Brendon Erasmus/Vincent Ko/Reshad Khoyratty - 487
16 Hayden Jonas/Luca Agostinelli/Bernard Haupt - 481
17 Michael Hamill/Jonathan McKeown/Damien van Zyl/Clinton Smart - 480
18 Allan Kessell/Johan Burger/Anthony Lane - 479
19 Michael Wahl/Shane Williams/Mark van den Berg/Graeme Green - 473
20 Willie van Niekerk/David Johnstone/Adam Franks/Dave Hamer - 463
21 Alan Westman/Alan Scheckles/Austin Boden/Paul Linaker - 460
22 Ian McDonald/Rael Cagnazzo/Clem Patrick Kirst - 459
23 Malcolm Steyn/Steve Thurling/Casey Wolters - 455
24 Sharief Reynolds/Mujaid Reynolds/Ardil Ontong/Munier Cader - 455
25 Alex van den Berg/Tyrone Berry/Riyaat Reynolds/Kevin Cassie - 451
26 Gerrit Visser/Ryan Snyman/Andrew Liebenberg/Jurgen van Onselen - 441
27 Wilmarie Janse van Rensburg/Jeanine du Rand/Michelle Marais - 455
28 Ronald van Rensburg/Michael Hall/Jordan Weaving/Paul Combrinck - 411
29 Kallie van den Berg/Chris Walker/Adrian Gibbon/Phil Ashley - 398
30 Paul Livings/Jannie Le Roux/Urie Stryger - 345
31 Jacques Norval/Madelein Brown/Raymond Wassung/Max Harve - 298
32 Wayne Niemand/Tiaan Lotter/Jandre Koekemoer/Desmond Laing - 118