Cape Town – The Mike Hopkins Regional Motorcycle Series at Killarney continues to be a tale of two riders, on very different motorcycles, racing under very different circumstances.
Leading the championship standings on 196 points is lanky, unassuming Brandon Haupt, who has found consistent form this season on the MX Clean ZX-10R, battling lingering injury concerns and engine problems to put up a string of impressive results, finishing off the podium only once in 16 races so far this season.
His previous-generation Kawasaki is well sorted, and the team knows exactly what they are doing with it, which is a large factor in his success.
Way down in sixth on 120 points, however, is international Superstock star David ‘McFlash’ McFadden, incredibly fit and driven by inner demons. He has missed half the season’s races so far, due to international commitments, but has yet to be beaten in a 2016 Regional championship race at Killarney. Those 120 points represent a perfect score for the eight Regional races he has run on the Suzuki South GSX-R1000 L5.
The L5 is, however, a run-out model (there’s an all-new Suzuki superbike on the stocks) and has not enjoyed a lot of attention from international teams; McFadden has had to do nearly all his own development, through his family’s Race Prep tuning shop.
These two young guns will face off again on Saturday in Round 9 of the Mike Hopkins series for two flat-out eight-lap sprint races; if previous rounds are anything to go by, they will provide some of the closest racing yet seen at this circuit.
Between them on the points table – and usually right behind them on the circuit – are the Class A big guns: Trevor Westman on the Mad Mac’s ZX-10R and veteran Malcolm Rapson on a family-funded, previous-generation Kawasaki ZX-10R. Either of these experienced riders will be ready to pounce, should one of the front runners make the slightest error.
In the absence of an entry from defending champion Hayden Jonas, who has suffered a string of engine failures this season and whose Fifty8 Racing ZX-6R is unlikely to be ready after its most recent blowup, the 600 Challenge is likely to be fought out between Warren Guantario on the Mad Mac’s ZX-6R and Alex van den Berg on the Liquid Blast machine. But don’t write off born-again racer John Oliver on the Glass It R6 (thought to be the oldest bike in the race!) or the father and son team of Karl and Jared Schultz on the ASAP World ZX-6Rs.
Leroy Malan on the LM Racing ZX-10R must start as favourite for Class B honours, with the Schultz’s and Klint Munton (Sunscan ZX-10R) also in the frame.
The Powersport/Clubmans races are a lot more difficult to predict, although it is certain that the rider everybody will want to beat will be veteran ‘Danie van Killarney’ Maritz on the DMR GSX-R, an original 1985 Pre-Sling that now has an 1100cc engine of almost the same vintage.
Leading the charge will be Clubmans stalwarts ‘Big Harry’ Clifton on the MSD Auto Services ZX-10R and Wessel Kruger on his Honda VTR1000 SP-2 V-twin, itself now rapidly approaching classic status, while Chris ‘Green Goblin’ Williams and Mike van Rensburg, each on Trac Mac ER650, sort out the Powersport pecking order between them.