Cape Town – Round 6 of the RST/Suzuki South/Trac Mac regional series at Killarney on Saturday delivered a long day of racing (the sun set moments after the end of the last race) and it is a measure of the support that the series enjoys that most of the surprisingly large crowd of spectators braved the chilly breeze to stay right to the end.
The circuit was streaming wet early in the morning so very few riders went out in qualifying - which had the effect of throwing the form book on its ear, as the riders who braved the wet conditions found themselves at the front of the grid, while their more cautious competitors were seeded behind them.
The front row was three Super600 riders - Gareth Gehlig on the Formula Autos ZX-6R, Hayden Jonas’ Samurai Racing R6 and Jared Schultz on ASAP World/Uncle Andy GSX-R600. But it was Brandon Staffen on the AJH Cooling/RPM ZX-6R who got a phenomenal start in Race 1 on the by-now dry circuit and led Schultz, Jonas and Gehlig until they reached the back straight - at which point bothers Brandon and Bernard Haupt went blasting past on the Fueled Racing R1s, closely followed by the howling Samurai R6.
By the end of lap two Trevor Westman on the Mad Macs ZX-10R was up to third and closing in on the Haupts, but halfway through the race Bernard Haupt’s machine, the older of the two, developed two programming faults at the same time. The auto-blipper stopped working, which made the bike unpredictable going into corners, and the traction control shut down, making it a handful coming out.
That meant he had to go back to riding the Yamaha “the old-fashioned way” which cost him more than a second a lap. Westman put a superb last three laps to close to within 0.658s of defending regional champion Brandon Haupt by the flag, with older brother Bernard a brave third and Jonas a distant fourth, just ahead of Andre Calvert, back at last after a long layoff caused by a big crash, two engine blowups and a wedding (his own).
Calvert put in a smooth, somewhat conservative ride on the Omega properties 1299S, rapidly moving up to fifth overall, but elected not to challenge the on-form Jonas, while holding off a late charge from Gerrit Visser on the Samurai R1.
Staffen, Malcolm Rapson, back on the family-funded ZX-10R after a long absence due to a serious injury, Rob Cragg (Mad Macs ZX-10R), Schultz, Alex van den Berg (Suzuki South GSX-R1000 L7) Quintin Ebden (Milu R1) and Gehlig put up a thrilling race-long battle for seventh that saw them finish in that order, covered by less than five seconds.
The start of Race 2 was even more exciting; Brandon Haupt blasted through into the lead on the back straight as before but Jonas and Staffen held off Bernard Haupt for another lap before surrendering second. Meanwhile, Westman’s clutch had given up on the very first lap; he soldiered on for another lap but it was all over for the Mad Macs machine and he retired on lap two rather than do further harm.
Soon after that Bernard Haupt’s clutch also began slipping, but he held on to finish second, 4.322s behind his brother, followed by Visser, Jonas and Staffen - but the real race was for sixth, where Calvert got the best of an epic dice with Cragg, Rapson, Schultz, Jacques Ackerman (Mad Macs/FG Distributors ZX-10R), Gehlig and Van den Berg, who finished in that order, covered by just 4.77s.
Andrew Liebenberg, on a borrowed Kawasaki ER650, was the quickest of the three riders who braved the difficult qualifying conditions and led lap one, but was pushed back to fourth a lap later by arch-rivals Mike van Rensburg (Simple Maintenance Solutions ER650), Chris Williams (Trac Mac ER650) and Ezio Miglietta (Kawasaki ER650).
But Liebenberg refused to be intimidated, and stayed with the leading group as Williams and Miglietta fought for the lead. When Williams outpsyched Miglietta to take over in front, Liebenberg was right there to grab second, and hold on to it, while Miglietta and Van Rensburg debated third with late charger Joske Kotze, who blitzed them both on the final lap to finish third, less than a second ahead of Van Rensburg and Miglietta.
Kewyn Snyman (Mag Workshop) ran away with the Powersport Class B, moving up to tangle with the Class A riders and finishing sixth overall. Zante Otto led the Class B pack home on the Otto Racing R3, with Grant Raeside (Kawasaki ZX300), Connor Hagan (NPH Electrical RC390) and short-circuit veteran Tony Sterianos (RST RC390) chasing her all the way; all four finished within four seconds.
Van Rensburg led the first two laps of Race 2, after which Williams simply walked away to win by almost five seconds, while Van Rensburg and Miglietta put up a superb dice for second, finishing just 0.321s apart, and Kotze and Liebenberg were even closer at the line after a race-long duel for fourth - just 0.01s apart.
Kewyn Snyman served up another lesson in giant-slaying, finishing sixth overall, while Zante Otto finished at the front of the pack, almost two seconds ahead of Jessen Samaai (KTM RC390) Raeside, Hagan, and Sterianos – all four of whom were covered by just 0.626s after seven laps of mayhem.
The Clubmans Class welcomed five Breakfast Run riders, one of whom, Romano di Leva on an Aprilia RSV4, finished third to arch-rivals Chris Williams (Trac Mac Panigale) and Willem Binedell (Dog Box GSX-R600) in Race 1 and moved up from a poor start in the second race to win by 1.6 seconds from Williams, Binedell, and Shamier Alexander (Ecowyze R6) – all of whom were covered by just 2.3 seconds at the flag.
The Clubmans Class races were notable for the return of no less than five popular competitors after long absences: Shakir ‘Shrek’ Smith on the Entity CBR1000RR, John Kosterman (Suzuki GSX-R1100 Pre-Sling), Peter Baker (at 63 the oldest rider in the series) on his Buell 1125RZ and Andre van Rooyen’s vintage GSX-R750 Pre-Sling.