Welkom - Reigning South African Superbike champion Clinton Seller put up a superlative display of precision riding at the high-speed Phakisa Freeway on Sunday to claim back-to-back victories in the inaugural round of the SuperGP series on his Kawasaki ZX-10RR.
Seller's highly satisfactory weekend in the Free State Goldfields included the fastest qualifying time around the 4.24km Free State circuit - a favourite among the country's motorcycle racers - the fastest Superpole time to secure pole position and the fastest lap in each of Sunday's 15-lap races.
Nicholas Grobler (BMW S1000RR) and Brent Harran (Kawasaki ZX-10R) kept him honest in Race 1, but the gap at the finish was a comfortable 7.6 seconds to Grobler and 9.5 to Haran. Former Supersport champion Lance Isaacs (BMW S1000RR) was fourth, ahead of three-times former SA Superbike champion Greg Gildenhuys, also on a BMW, who did well to recover from a fall in the early stages while chasing Harran, working his way up from stone last to fifth by the end.
The second leg was also a relatively easy win for the champion, who finished 54 seconds ahead of Grobler, while Gildenhuys stayed aboard and came home third, just three tenths of a second ahead of Dylan White (Kawasaki ZX-10) after pulling the bravest overtaking move of the day on Whyte on the final lap.
Isaacs was a distant fifth, well ahead of sixth-placed Haran.
The Super600 class delivered two equally exciting12-lap races with Steven Odendaal (Kawasaki ZX-6RR) taking a hard-fought double. He got lucky in Race 1 when hotshot teenager Darryn Binder (Suzuki GSX-R600) went down on lap three while leading a seven-way battle for the lead with Kawasaki-mounted Odendaal, Anthony Shelly, polesitter Mathew Scholtz and Nicholas Kershaw, and the Yamaha R6s of reigning Supersport champion Cameron Petersen and Dean Vos.
Then Loumari Grobler (Kawasaki ZX-6RR) crashed on lap six, breaking a collarbone and bringing out the red flags. Odendaal made the most of the re-start to open up a gap on his rivals, but Scholtz reeled him in to finish little more than a second adrift at the chequered flag.
Odendaal and Scholtz were the only 600cc riders under 1min41, with Odendaal recording the best Super600 lap of 1min40.392. Shelly was a distant third, more than five seconds in arrears, after coming out on top of a great battle Petersen for the final podium position, while Kershaw was fifth, and Vos sixth.
Shelly got an uncharacteristically poor start to the second outing that let Odendaal, Scholtz, Petersen and Vos get away to debate the outcome between them. Odendaal lead the express train home after 12 hard-fought laps, just 2.4 seconds ahead of Scholtz, who in turn had to fend off an inspired ride by Petersen.
Looking more like the champion he is, Petersen closed to within three seconds of second place on the podium, setting the fastest lap of the race in process.
Binder recovered well from his Race 1 fall but struggled with a motorcycle that was not as good as it had been before the crash. He finished fourth, more than eight seconds behind Odendaal, but a comfortable two seconds ahead of Vos, with Shelly sixth.
Ryan Ottens dominated the SuperM class on his BMW S1000 RR, recording the fastest time in qualifying on Saturday and taking a comfortable win in each 12-lap race. Kyle Robinson (Kawasaki ZX-10R) was second in each race - a distant 13 seconds behind in Race 1 but just 1.2 seconds adrift in their second outing after Ottens shadowed him from the start and waited nine laps before making his move.
Janine Davies (BMW S1000RR) made history by becoming the first lady to compete in a national championship race for litre-class machines - and finished on the podium in both races! Running a loaned S1000 RR on a shoestring budget with no sponsorship beyond family and friends dipping into their pockets when they can, the former Janine Mitchell got the best of two superb dices up-and-coming youngster Kyran de Lange (Triumph 675) and Teddy Brooke (Kawasaki ZX-10R).
De Lange, impressive on the nimble little Triumph triple against the bigger fours, finished fourth in Race 1 and fifth behind Brooke in the second leg, with Colin Lehmann sixth in both races on another Kawasaki ZX-10R.
The next round of SuperGP is scheduled for Redstar Raceway in Mpumalanga on 26 and 27 April.