Winter Regionals promise hot racingComment on this story
Midwinter Regionals tend to be thin on spectators as Killarney's chilly winter winds sweep across the circuit, but there are no less than 28 good reasons not to let the weather keep you at home this weekend. That's the number of entries for Round 5 of the Mike Hopkins Regional Superbike series - with another 15 machines entered for the Classic/Powersports races.
Leading the pack as favourite on the Race Prep ZX-10R must be David 'McFlash' McFadden, fresh from a superb eighth-place finish in last weekend's World Superstock 1000 race at Motorland Aragon in Spain - but he won't have things all his own way.
Defending Regional champion Malcolm Rapson showed signs last time out that he was coming to terms with his new-this-year Donford S1000RR; the vastly experienced Rapson is a master of tactics and will probably be the least affected by what will undoubtedly be very cold track conditions.
Trevor Westman has shown flashes of greatness on the Walker Brothers S1000RR, while lacking (so far) the finesse to put together a convincing title challenge.
Write him off at your peril; he's an expert at making the most of poor traction.
Ronald Slamet caused something of an upset last time out when he put the new I-S S1000RR on the front row of the grid and briefly led Race 2. The litre-class contenders will be keeping an eye on this graduate from the 600 Challenge, as should you.
Aran van Niekerk has already served the Superbike establishment a couple of nasty surprises on the five-year-old Xylem R1, but the cold, damp conditions to be expected this weekend do not favour his super-aggressive riding style.
Nevertheless, he'll be a threat if he stays aboard.
Quintin Ebden will be out for the first time on a 2012 Honda Fireblade with the latest uprated suspension; he produced some remarkable performances on the older bike but was often handicapped by set-up problems, which the new bike should obviate. If there is a dark horse to watch this weekend, it's Ebden.
Form man in the 600 Challenge is Sharl Wasserfall, on the Starlight ZX-6R, one of the few 600cc riders who've been able to take the fight to the litre-class brigade this season. He'll be up against a group of quick young riders including Gerrit Visser on the Competition Bikes CBR600, teenager Nicholas van der Walt's Race prep CBR600 and Suzuki GSX-R600-mounted Brandon Haupt.
Entity CBR1000RR rider Shakir 'Shrek' Smith has his eye on the 2012 Class B title, but with rivals such as Class B rivals Terry Smith on the clipse CBR1000RR and Mike Wilhelmi's Fast Fence ZX-10R - both newer, faster machines - he's going to have to work for it. If his tyres are up to it, however, cold conditions may actually work in his favour.
The big question mark over the Powersport/Classics field is that of Warren 'Wozza' Guantario, out for only the third time on the Fibreprod SV650, which showed early promise but has been let down by lack of development. But his is not the only Suzuki Battle of the Twins series leader Carl Liebenberg (Calberg F800) will have to worry about, as they'll be joined by Tyron Berry on a second SV650.
The Powersport class is likely to be a five-way fight between Hayden Jonas, Andrew Liebenberg, J-P Friedrich and Gerrit Visser senior.