Cape Town – Round Two of the Mike Hopkins Regional Motorcycle series, run in scorching weather at Killarney on Saturday produced superb racing on what turned out to be a treacherous arena.
Qualifying, earlier in the day on a clean circuit, produced a number of personal best lap times, with the top seven all under 1m13 and 2013 title-holder Ronald Slamet (Mike Hopkins ZX-10R) on pole with a superb 1:11.725, just 0.135sec ahead of former champion Malcolm Rapson.
But by the time the red lights went out to start Race 1, the ambient temperature was 39 degrees, the track temperature was in the high forties and a four-wheeled competitor had deposited an unseemly amount of oil in the slow section of the circuit.
The marshals did their best but as the pack streamed into Turn 2 on the second lap Gerrit Visser (Kawasaki ZX-10R) and Rapson went down at almost the same place. Neither was hurt but as Rapson moved off the circuit, Class C riders David Enticott (Motorwise 675 Daytona) and Brent Walters (Alu-Trellis R1) slid off on the same greasy spot and one of their bikes skittled Rapson, who landed on his shoulders and knocked himself out, bringing out the red flags.
Slamet got the best of the re-start, pulling steadily away to win by five seconds from Aran van Niekerk (Teazers ZX-10R) and Trevor Westman on the seven-year-old Ocean Sizzler R1, after a three-way ding-dong with SuperGP rider Lance Isaacs (Black Swan S1000RR) that lasted until Isaacs retired three laps from home - at which point the two local youngsters pulled the pin and fought it out to a finish that had the crowd on its feet, with Van Niekerk in front when it mattered by just 0.073sec.
Born-again racer Hilton Redlinghuys (Thruxton ZX-10R) was third, three seconds down, with Hayden Jonas the first 600 Challenge rider home by 10 seconds, fifth overall after an intense solo effort that delivered a career best lap despite the slick circuit.
Veteran Jan Lucas de Vos (Kawasaki ZX-10R) topped Class B by 0.037sec ahead of Zane Simon (Kawasaki ZX-10R) after a four-way battle with Brandon Haupt (MX Clean GSX-R600), who was also the second 600 rider home, and Mark van den Berg (Planet CBR100RR) all of whom finished within 1.75 seconds.
Jannie Stander (Galvatech ZX-10R) aced Class C, ahead of a desperate duel between Bronte Heinrich (Ducati 996 SPS) and Wayne Arendse (Hondas CBR600RR), who disputed 18th position as if it were the lead and finished just 0.319sec apart, with Heinrich in front when it mattered after Arendse, by his own admission, made his big move under braking into Turn 5 a lap too early.
Isaacs pulled a brilliant start off the second row of the grid to chase Slamet into Turn1 at the start of the second race, with Westman and Van Niekerk in hot pursuit. Van Niekerk moved ahead of Westman on lap two but, before he could start trying to reel in the BMW, Isaacs’ rear wheel hit the greasy spot in Turn 2 and, for a moment, all we could see from the commentary box was two white boots sticking out of a large puff of cement dust.
The only injury, however, was to Isaacs’ dignity, and he was able to cruise the bike round to the pits and retirement.
Slamet put a comfortable three seconds between himself and the duel between Westman and Van Niekerk, which went all the way to the flag and ended with Van Niekerk just 0.179sec ahead at the moment of truth.
The Racebase crew had put a lot of work into Rapson’s battered Kawasaki between races and the former champion, shaken but definitely not stirred, put in a solid ride, working up to fourth and fending off a determined late charge from Redlinghuys to hold the position by a quarter of a second at the line.
But at the top of Class B, Zane Simon (Kawasaki ZX-10R) led a six-bike train across the line after the dice of the day, followed by De Vos, David Bolding (PJ One ZX-10R), Van den Berg, Andre Calvert (KC Transport ZX-6R) and Haupt.
Heinrich beat Stander by the closest margin of the day (0.027sec) for Class C line honours, with everybody else a lap down after being blitzed by Slamet on the last time around.
POWERSPORT AND CLASSICS
Danie Maritz put his 1987 WP championship-wining Suzuki GSX-750 on pole for the Classic/Powersport encounter but it was Warren ‘Starfish’ Guantario who made all the running in Race 1 on the Calberg ER6 until the old maestro put in a blistering 1m19.012 on lap seven to take the lead - and the win, a lap later, by less than half a second.
Jonny Towers, CEO of British bikewear giant RST, saw off Ruan de Lange (Honda CBR600RR), Brandon Story (Thruxton ER6) and Jacques Ackerman (Yamaha R1) for third, while short-circuit specialist Wesley Jones (Jack Hammer SV650) got the best of a three-way dice for seventh with Calberg team-mates Andrew Liebenberg (ER6) and JP Friederich (SV650) that saw all three finish within less than a second.
Maritz put an extra link in the Gixer’s chain between races to lengthen the wheelbase for more traction out of corners and romped away to win from Guantario by a convincing 3.2 seconds, while Towers and Storey got into the duel of the race for third, swopping places at least once a lap on every lap and never more than arms length apart until the very last corner, when Storey went down very hard, bringing out the red flags.
But by then the race was already over – Jones was third, Ackerman took fourth from Ackerman and Liebenberg by a wheel and Towers recovered to come home a distant seventh.