Cape Town – The final round of the Regional Power Series at Killarney on Saturday will feature motorcycle racing at its purest - straight-up contests to prove who’s fastest on the day, with nothing at stake but bragging rights.
All the Mike Hopkins Motorcycles regional class titles are done and dusted: Brandon Haupt is the 2016 Overall and Class champion and Leroy Malan has taken Class B honours. Warren Guantario took the 600 Challenge trophy, while ‘Big Harry’ Clifton is a worthy Clubman champion, despite a huge crash in mid-season, and Chris Williams made the Powersport Class his own with a series of consistent results throughout the season.
But any time you line up these riders and shout “Go!” they’ll give it all they’ve got just to get there first – that’s what makes them motorcycle racers. And that’s what they’ll be doing on Saturday, in eight races for four categories.
In addition to the usual Superbike and Powersport races, there will be two Breakfast Run Grands Prix, for riders who have never before held a competition licence, and two for the CBR150 one-make class.
These ultra-competitive riders are better known for their exploits on the short circuit, especially in the annual international 8 Hours lightweight endurance race, this year’s edition of which will be run on 17 December.
Nevertheless, one of the most memorable sounds you’ll ever hear at Killarney is that of the entire field – more than a dozen bikes - running absolutely flat out down the back straight, all within arms length of each other and sounding for all the world like a Second World War air raid.
It’s impossible to predict the outcome- but riders to look out for are small-bike specialist Tony Sterianos, British-based Jonny Towers, CEO of international bikewear company RST, and the find of the 2016 season, 15-year-old Brandon Staffen.
Towers has also entered the Powersports races on a Kawasaki ER6, where he should be among the front-runners, but he’s likely to be overshadowed (as will everybody else) by ‘Danie van Killarney’ Maritz, riding the same Suzuki GSX-R aboard which he won the 1985 Regional title.
The inside story, however, is that this machine now has a torquey 1100cc Bandit engine, a derivation of the original oil-cooled Gixer powerplant that dates from the same era, looks the same from the outside and bolts straight in. With heaps of extra torque and modern tyres, the matt-black Suzuki is capable of lap times that would have been unattainable 30 years ago – and the super-fit Maritz has lost none of his talent over the years.
On current form, there is nobody in the Superbike field at Killarney who can stay with David ‘McFlash’ McFadden and his painstakingly rebuilt Race Prep S1000 RR. As talented a rider as McFlash is - and he has proved in the Superstock 1000 series that he is world class - this bike is more a testimony to his skill as a tuner.
Bought sight unseen in Durban, the BMW arrived in very second-hand condition and was initially very unreliable; in the months since then, McFadden has done much to dispel the popular perception that only the factory-backed teams can get the fast but fiendishly complicated S1000 RR to reach its full potential.
By finding elegant ways around the problems that afflict even the works bikes, McFadden has built a well-nigh unstoppable weapon, and it will be a major upset if he doesn’t win both Superbike races going away.
Behind him, however, anything could happen and probably will, with long-time rivals Trevor Westman on the Mad Mac’s ZX-10R and Malcolm Rapson on an older but more user-friendly, family-funded ZX-10R facing off against Jacques Ackerman on the second Mad Mac’s machine and Klint Munton’s similar Sunscan ZX-10R.
Among the 600’s the riders to watch are Brandon Staffen, on sponsor Anthony Lane’s Triumph 675 Daytona (the jockey-sized teenager says the howling triple is hard work to ride, but that’s never slowed him down yet) and Karl Schultz of ASAP World, on a Honda CBR 600 RR.
With eight races in four categories, the final main-circuit meeting of 2016 will be a feast of two-wheeled action; spectators are also welcome in the pits to come and meet the riders inside the colourful helmets you’ve been watching all season.