Usually the first meeting of the season is a bit of a shakedown cruise, as everybody tries to get to terms with new machinery, find the best chassis set-up for Killarney’s notoriously bumpy main circuit and get comfortable in stiff new leathers.
But it looks as if this weekend’s first round of the 2013 Mike Hopkins Western Province Regional Motorcycle series is going to deliver fireworks from the very first lap, with most of the top runners on identical Kawasaki ZX-10R machines. The current ZX has been around for a couple of years and there is no shortage of information on how to get the best out of them.
Leading the charge will be Namibian Ronald Slamet, riding the ex-David McFadden ZX-10R with backing from Mike Hopkins. Towards the end of last season he was well-nigh unstoppable on the BMW S1000RR and he should be on the pace immediately.
KEEPING HIM HONEST
Former champion Malcolm Rapson has also swopped his S100 RR for a ZX-10R, still with support from Donford Motorrad; if anybody will be able to keep ‘Rocket Ron’ honest it will be the lanky accountant from Welgedacht. Also ZX-10R mounted are Zane and Tyran Simon, and the irrepressible Aran van Niekerk, who has finally retired his six-year-old Yamaha R1 in favour of a Green Meanie with help from Stunt SA and Da Vinci Décor.
After seeing what he was able to achieve with the old war-horse last season, the man bears watching, as do Trevor Westman, still on the Walker Brothers S1000 RR, and Quintin Ebden, who has gone against the current by swopping from a Honda CBR1000RRFireblade to a Danie Maritz-tuned S1000 RR.
Class B is likely to be fought out between Mike van Rensburg (Yamaha R6), Mike Wilhelmi (Fast Fence ZX-10R) and ‘Shrek’ Smith, on the Entity Sheet Metals CBR1000RR, while class stalwarts Kurt Fortune (Kawasaki ZX-6R), Wayne Arendse (Honda CBR600RR) and Vossie Vosloo (Winland R1) dispute Class C honours.
Last year’s 600 Challenge champion, Gerrit Visser, has moved up to a Honda CBR1000RR, so we can expect to see super-smooth Brandon Haupt, on the MX Clean GSX-R600, battling it out for class honours with Sharl Wasserfall (fast but accident-prone) on the Starlight ZX-6R, and born-again racer Hilton Redelinghuys on a Suzuki GSX-R600.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
The pecking order in the Powersport Class is likely to be completely rewritten, however, as veteran Carl Liebenberg brings a new Kawasaki ER6 to the line under the familiar Calberg banner, with son Andrew and Trevor Westman on similar machines, to take on Warren Guantario, Brandon Storey and Ian Berry, each on a Suzuki SV650. All we can say is, expect the unexpected.
And right behind them will be Clubman racers Raiel le Roux (SuzukiGSX-R750) and the little girl on the big bike, Mandy Peake and the Fast by Fran VTR1000 V-Twin. If her team have managed to cure the start-line woes that plagued the big V-twin last season she will be a force to be reckoned with.