Cape Town – The 2017 season of the Mike Hopkins Motorcycles Regional superbike series got off to a flying start at Killarney on Saturday, with 32 entries in the superbike classes alone, and 13 each for the Clubmans and Powersport races.
David ‘McFlash’ McFadden put his new Dealer Team BMW S1000 RR on pole, with Trevor Westman (Mad Mac’s ZX-10R) and 2015 champion Ronald Slamet, out for the first time on a family-funded Yamaha R1 after a disastrous 2016 on an S1000 RR that gave him nothing but grief, making up the front row.
And that’s the way they ran for the first five laps, until McFlash got a box full of neutrals going into Turn 3 and ran very wide, leaving the door open for Westman to grab the lead. It took the BMW rider two laps to recover his composure, but by the penultimate lap he was back in front, coming home 0.377s ahead of Westman, with Slamet a hard-fought third.
Arch-rivals Hayden Jonas (Samurai ZX-6R) and Warren Guantario (Mad Mac’s ZX-6R) were the first two 600s home, half a second apart in seventh and eighth respectively.
McFadden admitted later that he'd duffed the start of Race 2 completely; he was fourth at the end of lap one behind Slamet, Westman and National contender Daryn Upton from Gauteng on a Paramount ZX-10R. He outbraked the visitor into Turn 5, just as Westman did the same to Slamet to move to the front.
A lap later McFadden went down the inside of theYamaha in Turn 5 to take second, only for Westman to lose the front and slide into the dirt seconds later, promoting McFlash into the lead, as he romped away to win by almost three seconds, with Slamet and Upton less than half a second apart in second and third respectively, while Jonas managed to put a couple of litre-class machines between himself and Guantario, coming home fifth overall.
The Clubmans/Classics races belonged to an unlikely star; Jannie ‘Speed Demon’ Stander (Kawasaki ZX-10R) hadn’t raced since April 2016 due to financial constraints and hadn’t practiced.
He qualified sixth but got a poor start and was 10th at the end of lap one; Then, on lap four got back into the groove and began slicing through the field, passing three riders in one move under braking for Turn 5.
Suddenly he was the fastest man on the circuit; two laps later he was up to fifth and on the final lap he did it again, outbraking two riders into the final corner to finish third, only 2.5s behind Michael du Toit (ZX-10R) and Nick van Zyl (Inter-Sped ZX-10R), having set the fastest lap of the race (by almost a second) on lap six.
He got a much better start in Race 2, moving up to fifth on lap one, fourth on lap two, second on lap three with another double pass, and passed Du Toit for the lead on lap five, holding on to win by half a second, despite a strong challenge from Du Toit on the final lap that saw Stander once again posting the fastest lap of the race.
JP Friederich on the Calberg SV650 walked away with both Powersport races, winning Race 1 by an impressive 11s from a racelong duel between Chris 'Green Goblin’ Williams (Trac Mac ER650) and rookie Gareth Gehlig (Formula Autos ER650) that ended in Williams’ favour by just 0.61s. Sam Lochoff was the quickest of the KTM RC390 riders, in 10th overall.
Williams and Gehlig were all set to pick up in Race 2 where they’d left off, only for Williams’ Kawasaki to go sick on the very first lap. Gehlig trailed home a lonely second, 10s adrift, with Hilton Redelinghuys (out of retirement for the second time!) third on a Trac Mac ER650 and Lochoff again the quickest of the 390s.