Cape Town – One lady who did the Mike Hopkins Regional Motorcycle series proud at Killarney on Women’s Day, 9 August, was Mother Nature, with warm sunshine and a cool breeze creating ideal conditions for superbike racing.
However, with no ladies contesting the series this year, it was pure testosterone on the grid, as David ‘McFlash’ McFadden - back home between World Superstock 1000 rounds - put the Stunt SA ZX-10R on pole, his qualifying time of 1m11.915s half a second quicker than defending Regional champion Ronald Slamet on the Mike Hopkins ZX-10R, with former champion Malcolm Rapson (also Kawasaki ZX-10R-mounted) completing the front row.
But Slamet got the better launch, diving into Turn 1 at the head of a 29-bike field and holding on to the lead until the end of the back straight, where McFadden comprehensively outbraked him into Turn 5 to take a lead he was to hold to the line, although Slamet hung on for all he was worth and it was only in the final few laps that he was able to break away, increasing the gap to 4.571 seconds at the end.
It was McFlash’s stated intention to bring the ultimate motorcycle lap record at this circuit under 1m11s; one can imagine his frustration with a fastest lap of 1m11.065 – albeit a personal best!
Behind them Malcolm Rapson, desperately unwell due to a stomach bug and riding for points, came home a hard-earned third, just a second ahead of a photo finish for fourth between talented youngster Gerrit Visser (Kawasaki ZX-10R) and short-circuit graduate Trevor Westman on the seven-year-old Ocean Sizzler R1, after a cut-and-thrust eight-lap dice that ended with Westman in front by just 0.078sec.
Brandon Haupt, out for the first time on a new Kawasaki ZX-10R with backing from his family and MX Clean, put in his best lap on the last time around, to pull clear of long-standing rival Hayden Jonas (Kawasaki ZX-6R), who in turn was a couple of bike lengths ahead of Graeme Green, enjoying a one-off ride on the Thruxton ZX-10R, and 600 Challenge leader Andre Calvert (KC Transport ZX-6R), narrowing the points gap at the top of the Challenge even further and setting up a dramatic Race 2 showdown.
On-form Jacques Brits on the Lize Signs S1000 RR was the first Class B rider past the post, less than a 10th of a second behind Class A riders David Bolding (PJ One ZX-10R) and Quintin Ebden (BMW S1000RR). The three finished in that order, just 0.17sec apart, in a dramatic sprint to the line.
Brits was followed home by father and son Mark (Planet Electronics CBR600RR) and Alex (Wicked CBR600) van den Berg, with Mike Wilhelmi, back on the Stunt SA ZX-10R after an eight-month layoff, a lonely fourth in class.
Class C leader David Enticott (Motorwise Daytona 675) got it all wrong on lap five and had to surrender class honours to Ruan de Lange’s Asap CBR600RR, despite a late charge that narrowed the gap to only 0.149sec at the flag.
The start of the second outing followed much the same pattern, except that Visser came off the second row to surprise Rapson going into Turn 1, and McFadden simply powered past Slamet on the back straight to take the lead even earlier than in the first race.
Neither was able to match the morning’s pace on a less-than-pristine track surface and despite a superb 1m11.373 effort on lap two that put Slamet’s name on the score-sheet for the fastest lap of the race, McFadden made full use of the extra grunt of the Stunt SA machine (which is in Superstock trim as opposed to the more standard Evo specification of Slamet’s bike) to stretch the gap to more than seven seconds in the latter stages.
Rapson surprised Visser (and himself, we suspect) with a neat pass into Turn 2 on the second lap, but simply lacked the physical resources to take advantage of it. It was all he could do to hold off a number of challenges from the younger rider, finishing just 0.05sec ahead for the hardest-earned points of his racing career.
Four seconds further back, Haupt lopped another tenth off his personal best on the penultimate lap to get the better of Westman and his vintage Yamaha by just 0.619sec after a superb ride – but it was the next two who provided the dice of the day as Jonas and Calvert battled it out on evenly-matched Kawasaki’s for 600 Challenge honours and the lead in the standings.
It was desperate stuff as they banged elbows on every lap, using all the track and then some as they carved each other up in mid-corner. Even seasoned SA Supersport rider Green backed off and let them get on with it; he was sure that he could go faster but he wasn’t certain he would survive passing them!
But in the end Jonas pulled clear at the finish to lead Calvert home by a little more than three seconds and put himself back on top of the 600 Challenge standings – albeit by the slenderest of margins. Despite the physicality of their encounter, the reaction from both in the post-race paddock was “That was great, let’s do it again!”.
Brits tumbled out of an almighty dice for class honours with the Van den Berg family, mid-corner in Turn 1 on lap five, leaving father Mark to lead home Class A rider Bolding - who lost two places on the last lap - and son Alex, followed by an exhausted Wilhelmi.
Enticott got out of shape in the middle of the double-apex Turn 4 and ran off the circuit trying to avoid a slower rider. The Triumph rider was unhurt when the bike went down just short of the wall, but his DNF handed Class C honours for the day to De Lange.