Vintage thrills at Cape TT Races
By Dave Abrahams
Scottish road-racing legend Ian Simpson completed his domination of the 2014 SA Tourist Trophy series for historic motorcycles with another emphatic double win at Cape Town’s Killarney circuit on Saturday to match that at Zwartkops a week earlier.
Behind him, however, locals and visitors from all over the world - including Gauteng! - mixed it up in two superb races that had the huge crowd on its feet, with battles throughout the field that in some cases weren’t settled until the sprint to the flag.
Simpson, 43, with three TT wins, five British Superbike championships and two Ulster GP wins to his credit, put his 1981 Suzuki XR69 – the forerunner of the iconic GSX-R series – on pole with an unanswerable 1min19.054 qualifying lap but got a jerky, badly co-ordinated start in Race 1 as the rest of the front row – former SA champion Les van Breda and local veteran David Bolding (each on a Suzuki Katana) and John ‘Konstabel’ Kosterman on a 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750 – howled down to Turn 1 ahead of him.
Once Simpson had got the big Suzuki over its start-line jitters, however, there was no denying him as he dive-bombed both Katanas into Turn 5 at the end of lap one to take the lead and romped away to win by nearly 12 seconds. Behind him, however, things were by no means as clearcut; Bolding made the most of home-track advantage to hold off the vastly experienced Van Breda in a superlative battle for second that lasted until the final lap, when the former SA champion outbraked the local rider in a move Bolding later described with a grin as “committed” to take second by 0.67sec.
Kosterman held on as best he could for a few laps, but there was no way his essentially standard 750cc Gixer was going to stay with a litre-class works endurance racer and two kitted Katanas, and he trailed home half a minute in arrears, ahead of Robbie Burns - another Scot on an XR69! – five-times former Scottish champion Alan Duffus, now 67 years old, on a four-cylinder two-stroke Yamaha TZ750, and Mike McSkimming on Tony Sparg’s Suzuki GSX1100.
The closest finish of the race, however, was between Tony Jones – riding Lourens Rossouw’s GSX-R750 after he blew the engine of his Ducati Paul Smart replica in practice – and Kevin Spratley’s remarkably well sorted Yamaha RZ350R, who finished just 0.287sec apart after a race-long duel.
Van Breda got another scorching start to lead the field into Turn 1, only for Simpson to sweep by on to the back straight for another unchallenged victory. Four seconds behind him Van Breda and Bolding swopped places at least twice a lap until Van Breda outbraked the local man in to Turn 1 three laps from the flag and held him off to take second by 0.669sec.
Kosterman and Burns took the next two places, closely shadowed by Simpson’s father Bill, who’d blown his Suzuki GS1000R in practice and was riding Alan Walker’s gorgeous 888 Ducati to considerable effect, Jones, McSkimming and Spratley – all of whom finished within four seconds, while Duffus passed Etienne Louw’s Kawasaki Z1 on the final lap to grab 10th by 0.189sec.
This demonstration run by the gentleman racers (many of them pensioners) of the Historical Motorcycle Group on vintage machines too rare and irreplaceable to be raced rapidly became a flat-out dice between riders whose rivalries in some cases stretched back half a century – see the pictures in the gallery marked HMG.