Cape Town – On a day when typical Cape autumn weather made a lottery of tyre choice, multiple former SA Superbike champion Greg Gildenhuys from Gauteng just kept getting faster as the day went on, eventually walking away with two race wins in the Mike Hopkins Regional series after an inauspicious start.
Heavy storms overnight had left the track streaming wet, with heavy cloud threatening more rain; Ronald Slamet put the Mike Hopkins ZX-10R on pole with a ballsy 1m23.86, about 10 seconds off his usual pace, with Aran van Niekerk (Stunt SA ZX-10R), Trevor Westman (Ocean Sizzlers R1) and another visitor, Heinrich Rheeder on a BMW S1000RR, making up the front row, while Gildenhuys qualified eighth, more than a second off the pace.
Slamet, Westman and Van Niekerk dived into Turn 1 practically side by side, but by the end of lap one Gildenhuys had sliced through the Class A field to fourth and was mixing it with Van Niekerk, former Regional title-holder Malcolm Rapson (Kawasaki ZX-10R) and born-again racer Hilton Redlinghuys (Thruxton ZX-10R).
For the next three laps Slamet held a tenuous lead while Gildenhuys and local pack banged elbows and fairings, but by the start of lap six the BMW was up to second and it was all over bar the shouting. Gildenhuys was consistently running in the mid-1m12’s while Slamet dropped back to third behind Rapson before recovering to come home second, 4.5 seconds off the pace, a scant quarter of a second ahead of Rapson.
Westman and Redlinghuys rounded out the top five, ahead of Gerrit Visser (Kawasaki ZX-10R), who was struggling with too-hard tyres, and Van Niekerk, who complained of serious suspension patter.
Brandon Haupt (MX Clean GSX-R600) was next, topping Class B and the 600 Challenge, followed by Hayden Jonas (Kawasaki (ZX-6R) and Andre Calvert (KC Transport ZX-6R).
David Enticott’s Motorwise Daytona 675, and the Ducati 996 of Bronte Heinrich were the first Class C bikes home.
Van Niekerk and Westman led the pack into the first corner but by Turn 2 Slamet was in front while Gildenhuys was battling to get by Rapson.
It took the visitor until the end of lap three to get up to second, but before he could mount a challenge to Slamet, he was mugged by Rapson going into Turn 5 on lap five and it was game on – until Van Niekerk went down hard in Turn 4 on the next lap, bringing out the red flags.
So it all came down to a three-lap dash for the line, with no room for tactics or racecraft. Slamet led at the end of the first tour, from Gildenhuys, Rapson, Westman and Visser; Gildenhuys took the advantage and held it to the end to lead by 0.642sec from Slamet, Rapson, Westman, Visser and Redlinhuys, all of whom finished within less than six seconds.
Jonas took 600 Challenge honours for the day ahead of Calvert, who topped Class C while Endicott’s feisty Triumph took home the Class C silverware.
Paul Medell, in his first outing on the ex-Tony Sparg Suzuki SV650 – he actually rode the bike for the first time in qualifying – out-dragged the field into Turn 1 but was soon relegated by Warren ‘Starfish’ Guantario (Calberg ER6), Fran Engelbrecht (Kawasaki ZX-6R) and Brandon Story, who seemed to be finding more speed with every outing on the Thruxton ER6.
In the end, Guantario romped away to win by 16 seconds, while Storey got into a race-long dice with Timothy Clarke (Suzuki GSX-R750) that saw them swop places at least once a lap, with Storey in front by a scant 0.068sec when it mattered.
Thirteen seconds later, JP Friederich (Calberg SV650), Engelbrecht, Raiel le Roux (BMW S1000RR), finished in that order in less than a second.
Guantario stamped his authority even more firmly on Race 2, winning by more than 20 seconds, while Storey and Wesley Jones (Jack Hammer SV650) debated second all the way, finishing only two seconds apart.
Six seconds Clark and Friederich were even closer (0.267sec, to be precise) but the dice of the race was the six-way battle for sixth between John Kosterman (riding Danie Maritz’ Suzuki GSX-R750 after his own put a conrod through the front of its crankcase at full chat on the main straight in Race 1), Chris Williams (DEA ER6), Leroy Malan (Calberg ER6), Engelbrecht, Medell and Le Roux, that saw them finish in that order within 4.5 seconds.