The drama actually started two weeks earlier at Zwartkops when David ‘McFlash’ McFadden’s BMW S1000RR was skittled and written off in a multiple pile-up at a rained-out SuperGP meeting that was later abandoned.
McFadden refused to commit to riding at Killarney until he was sure the new bike was ready, but in the event, it must have been, because he “got out of the right side of bed this morning” and put it on pole with an electrifying 1m10.871 qualifying lap.
Then Ronald Slamet on the IS Freight R1 jumped the start big time and immediately stopped, holding up his hand. Several other riders – among them McFadden – also stopped, expecting a false start to be declared, but as Trevor Westman led the field down to Turn 1 on the Mad Mac’s ZX-10R, realised that it wasn’t going to happen and set about making up for lost ground.
Up front, Westman led veteran Malcolm Rapson’s older, family-funded Kawasaki ZX-10R and Gerrit ‘the Ginger Ninja’ on the Samurai R1 while Slamet battled to close them down and McFadden sliced through the midfield in a furious attempt to get back on terms.
By the end of lap three Rapson and Slamet were debating second when Rapson got high-sided into Turn 5 and came down hard, bringing out the red flags and the ambulance.
Since less than 25 percent of race distance had been completed, that meant a new race, with McFadden back on pole – and he pulled brilliant start to lead off the line, followed by Westman, Slamet and Visser in a thrilling four-bike train, battling it out all the way to the flag, with Slamet actually leading one lap in mid-race before being bounced back to third.
Visser dropped back in the closing stages, but McFadden, Westman and Slamet finished in that order in less than 0.2s – only for Slamet to be penalised 30 seconds for the earlier jump start.
Visser and Warren Guantario (Mad Mac’s ZX-6R) were excluded for a technical infringement under the red flag, handing the top slots in the 600 Challenge to Jared Schultz and his father Karl (ASAP World ZX-6R’s).
The talented Namibian’s woes weren’t over yet; he got a disastrous start – later traced to a launch control fault – in the second race, but was back up to fourth behind McFadden, Westman and Alex van den Berg (Auto Watch CBR1000 SP) by the end of the first lap. A lap later, he was up to second as Westman battled to stay with a fired-up McFadden.
But it was Westman’s ZX-10R that decided the issue for him, picking up a fuelling gremlin in the second half of the race that dropped him to a distant third behind McFadden and Slamet, while Dale Field (Field ZX-10R) held off a determined challenge from Van den Berg to claim fourth by 0.071s.
Jared and Karl Schultz were the first 600s home, just 0.545s apart, giving Schultz Junior his first overall class win and the racing family a son-and-father 1-2, unprecedented in living memory.
JP Friederich on the Calberg SV650 led every lap of the first Powersport race, pulling away at about a second a lap to win by almost nine seconds, but behind him veteran Paul Medell (Kawasaki ER650) and Chris ‘the Green Goblin’ Williams on the Trac Mac ER650 battled it out for second, swopping places on virtually every lap, with Medell ahead by just 0.202s when it counted.
Max Mandix brought the ASAP ER650 home a distant fourth.
Diminutive Sam Lochoff (he’s actually 10 years old but looks about eight!) on the Samurai RC390 was the first Powersport B rider home, eight seconds ahead of Gareth Dawson and short-circuit veteran Tony Sterianos, each on a KTM RC390.
Medell pulled a superb start in Race 2 and sliced across the noses of his two rivals in Turn 1, only for Williams to strike back and lead at the end of lap one, while Friederich held station in third.
The championship leader was back in front at the end of lap two, however, and proceeded to make the race his own – but the spectators’ attention was focused, as before, on the fight for second. Medell got ahead of Williams in mid-race and held a small but crucial advantage until the final lap, when an all-out effort from Williams (and a too-early gearshift by Medell on the run to the line) saw the Green Goblin take the honours by the smallest margin of the day – 0.002s! – while another steady run from Mandix brought him home fourth, 12 seconds adrift.
Lochoff’s KTM had popped a head gasket in Race 1, leaving Dawson and Sterianos to lead home the Powersport B pack, with Saul Turvey and Junior Joubert disputing third right down to the line; Turvey was in front by a scant 0.387s when it counted.