Cape Town – While this weekend’s second round of the RST Suzuki South Regional Superbike series at Killarney will no doubt be dominated by the ongoing rivalry between 2017 champion David McFadden on the Stunt SA ZX-10R and 2016 title-holder Brandon Haupt’s Fueled Racing/TCF R1, a third player has emerged who could possibly upset the applecart.
Before his weekend was cut short by a huge crash in Turn 5 on the first lap of Race 1 at last months’ season-opener, Andre Calvert qualified third on the Omega Property/Leslie’s Gifts Panigale, ahead of the more fancied Trevor Westman (Madmacs ZX-10R) and Gerrit Visser (Samurai R1).
This may finally be Calvert’s year; he has shown that he has the pace, if not the racecraft, to run with the leaders in the regional series and, if the big Ducati can be repaired in time, he will be out there with a point to prove. Whoever challenges established form man McFadden on the day, get ready for a five-way fight at the sharp end of the field.
Much the same has happened in the 600 Challenge; Hayden Jonas on the Samurai R6 was expected to be the class of the class after challenger Warren Guantario moved to Australia. Then along came teenager Brandon Staffen, out for the first time on the AJH Cooling/RPM ZX-6R, just a few tenths slower than Jonas, with young guns Jared Schultz (ASAP World ZX-6R) and Gareth Gehlig (RPM/Formula Autos ZX-6R) not far behind.
Jonas is used to mixing it with the litre-class bikes, but he will have his work cut out for him this weekend just to stay ahead of the 600s.
The newly-established Masters class for rider over 35 also delivered a surprise, in the shape of former champion Rob Cragg (Madmacs ZX-10R), who took class honours for the day in his first competitive ride for more than a decade by more than 14 seconds from Greg Warner (Carpentry Connection R1) and Jacques Ackerman (Madmacs/FG Distributors ZX-10R).
His best lap of the day, a 1m15.425s flyer in Race 1, would have won him races when he was The Man, but was only good enough for 10th overall in February, so he still has a steep learning curve ahead of him. The softly-spoken Cragg has proven mettle, however, and no shortage of racecraft; he will bear watching.
As will Chris Williams, the only entrant who rides in two classes; aboard the TracMac 1299, he was all over Wessel Kruger’s Honda SP2 throughout both Clubmans races, talking overall honours for the day by less than half a second, and he was second – albeit a distant second – on the TracMac ER650 to the seemingly unstoppable JP Friederich (GR Tax/MSD Racing SV650) in both Powersport races.
For this, the second of eight rounds of the Regional Series, the battle lines have been drawn. As for the outcome, well, you’ll just have to be there to see for yourself.