SA Superbike showdown at Red StarComment on this story
This year's South African Motorcycle championships will be finalised in uncharted territory this Saturday, as both the Superbike and 600 Supersport title will be decided at the Red Star Raceway near Delmas.
The four-kilometre circuit, situated next to the N12 highway towards Witbank, has not hosted a national championship event before, and its 13-corner layout will be unknown to many competitors.
Kawasaki privateer Clinton Seller will go to Red Star already crowned as the 2013 SA Superbike champion, and with no title pressure to worry about, he will probably set his sights on setting an absolute lap record for the new circuit.
Nicolas Grobler (Kawasaki) and Chris Leeson (BMW), however, will have bigger fish to fry; they'll be fighting for the overall runner-up spot, with little to choose between them in terms of sheer pace.
The local racers will be joined by some eminent overseas entries, led by Greg Gildenhuys on his international Super Stock Gold Bet BMW.
Cape Town's David McFadden will ride a Kawasaki in the Superbike races, while Sheridan Morais will be in the country, and might make an appearance on a Yamaha R1.
Others who could influence the outcome at the sharp end include Ryan Ottens (BMW), Dylan Whyte (Yamaha), Ryan van Aswegen (Kawasaki), Robert Portman (Yamaha) and Anthony Shelley (Kawasaki).
Cameron Petersen (MV Agusta) will be the favourite to clinch the season's supersport title; the only other rider with even a mathematical chance of lifting the laurels is Capetonian veteran Lance Isaacs on the 'official' Kawasaki ZX-6R - but even then he'll need to win both races with Petersen finishing out of the points, to pull it off.
However, stranger things have happened in motorcycle racing, and Petersen will not go to Red Star Raceway in a complacent frame of mind.
Also looking for race wins will be Nicholas Kershaw (Kawasaki), Dean Vos (Yamaha), Brent Harran (MV Agusta), Anthony Shelley (Kawasaki) and Capetown's very fast but often too furious Sharl Wasserfall (Kawasaki).
Joining the field will be international riders Darryn Binder, who won at Phakisa on his Yamaha, and possibly Sheridan Morais, also on a Yamaha.
Heading up the midfield battle should be riders such as like Gareth Davidson (Kawasaki), Nicole van Aswegen (Triumph), Rhyno Stander (Kawasaki) and Ricky Weare (Kawasaki).
Each categories will tackle two 12-lap races on the day, with the Supersport contingent required to run the morning's official qualifying session and both races on the same set of control Pirelli tyres.
Pirelli motorsport expert Wayne Doran retired from racing before Red Star was built.
It's unknown territory for us," he said. "and it's hard to predict handling characteristics."
"But, as always, the more experienced riders will find better race settings, so we don't expect huge upsets in the results," he added.