Cape Town – Spring came in at the weekend’s Flower Power Series meeting, Round 7 of the Mike Hopkins Regional Motorcycle series at Killarney, with the expected blustery south-easter.
It made life difficult for the Powersport competitors and shuffled the midfield pack in the Superbike races, but didn’t seem to affect the outcome of a cliff-hanger battle for the lead that went right down to the wire.
International Superstock 1000 racer David ‘McFlash’ McFadden on the on the MSD Racing GSX-R1000 L5 and local star Brandon Haupt on the MX Clean ZX-10R were never more than a couple of bike-lengths apart throughout both races. The winning margins were 0.037s in Race 1 and 0.78 seconds in Race 2 - but there was a lot more to it than that.
Haupt got a superb start in Race 1 and set the early pace, with veteran Malcolm Rapson on a family-funded Kawasaki ZX-10R in hot pursuit. As usual, the top 600 Challenge riders were mixing it with the litre-class machines, as Hayden Jonas (Fifty8 Racing ZX-6R), Warren Guantario (Mad Mac’s ZX-6R), John Oliver on the Glass It R6 and Kewyn Snyman’s RST ZX-6R debated fourth overall with Trevor Westman on the Mad Mac’s ZX-6R.
However, the blustery wind affected the lighter 600s more than it did the bigger bikes and Westman was able to get by Jonas on lap three and begin reeling in Rapson to set up a last-lap showdown every bit as dramatic as the the one ahead of them for the lead.
McFadden made the decisive move on lap six but was unable to put any gap at all between himself and Haupt, fending off several determined challenges to win by the closest margin of the day – 0.037s. Seven seconds later, Rapson held off Westman’s charge by a margin not much bigger, while 600 Challenge ‘Brat Packers’ Jonas, Snyman, Guantario and Oliver finished in that order within 10 seconds – with the Milu R1 of Quintin Ebden sandwiched among them.
Leroy Malan (LM Racing ZX-10R) wa the first Class B rider home in 11th overall, ahead of Klint Munton (Sunscan ZX-10R) and Karl Schultz (ASAP World ZX-6R).
Haupt led the charge off the line at the start of the second Superbike Race but McFlash was having none of it – he simply went round the outside in Turn 1. But that was just the beginning of the drama, as Jonas’ Fifty8 Racing ZX-6R dropped a valve on lap two and Ebden outbraked himself into Turn 1 two laps in a row and retired.
What followed was a master class in close racing, as Haupt tried everything he knew to put a pass on Mc Fadden, several times pulling alongside the Suzuki but never able to make it stick. McFadden came home to win by 0.078s, but even that tiny margin isn’t an accurate reflection of how close their battle was. Haupt got it very slightly wrong in Turn 5 on the final lap; for most of the race he was a lot closer than that.
Guantario and Snyman swopped places at the top of the 600 Challenge – with Oliver in close attendance - until Guantario missed a gear going into Turn 5 on the final lap and went farming; he stayed on and recovered to finish 14th, but his off-track excursion handed the 600 honours for the day to Snyman.
Malan, Munton and Schultz were again the first three Class B finishers in ninth, 10th and 11th respectively overall.
A star was born in Clubmans as rookie Donald Romer on the Quickway CBR1000 came out of nowhere to qualify second; at the start of Race 1 he followed ‘Danie van Killarney’ Maritz’s Suzuki classic GSX-R1100 and 15-year-old Brandon Staffen on the AJH Cooling SV650 into Turn 1.
Maritz romped away to win by 17 seconds, but the jockey-sized Staffen was being blown about by the blustery wind and Romer powered past on lap 6.
On the final lap later Dylan Wright (Itcan CBR600 F4) and ‘Big Harry’ Clifton (MSD Auto Services ZXC-10R) collided coming out of Turn 4 and both went down, bringing out the red flags. Both bikes were comprehensively trashed and their riders were taken to hospital for essential maintenance. The results were declared as at the end of lap seven which, ironically, placed Wright sixth and Clifton seventh behind Maritz, Romer, Staffen, JP Friederich (Calberg SV650), and Jos Troch (Honda CBR1000 RR).
Maritz let Staffen and Friederich make the running for the first four laps of Race 2, then simply powered away on the big Gixer to win by more than 10 seconds, while the two Powersport rival put up a superb battle for second – with Staffen ahead by 1.3 seconds when it counted, prompting Friederich to point out that the skinny teenager had a 40kg weight advantage while riding an identical motorcycle!