Cape Town – The fifth round of the RST/Suzuki South regional motorcycle series, this Saturday at Killarney, is likely to be a cracker, even if it rains.
Make that especially if it rains. Rain on a racing circuit is in many cases a great leveller, counteracting the advantage of the more powerful, faster motorcycles and allowing riders on less powerful machines to compete on somewhat more equal terms.
Not that it’s likely to make much of a difference to the two riders who have made the series their own this year. Both defending champion David McFadden (RPM/Stunt SA ZX-10R) and 2016 champion Brandon Haupt on the Fuelled Racing R1 are accomplished rain-masters, and they’ll be fighting it out for line honours in what has become the tightest needle match since the early-1990s duel between Adrian Roux and Donald Craig.
After four of nine rounds in the 2018 championship, they are separated by just three points, with McFadden on 90 to Haupt’s 87.
Right behind them will be Trevor Westman on a Mad Macs ZX-10R and Gerrit Visser on the Samurai R1. After two difficult seasons of development Visser and the Yamaha have come into their own this season and are challenging for podium positions – but if it rains they’ll be more concerned with fending off the attentions of Hayden Jonas on the Samurai R6.
Jonas, a multiple former 600 Challenge champion, will be quick to take advantage of the lighter 600cc machine’s handling advantage in wet conditions, and could wind up challenging the litre-class Big Guns for a podium position.
But there’s another, less obvious rivalry that’s rapidly becoming one to watch. At the beginning of the 2018 season multiple former champion Rob Cragg came out of retirement after more than a decade, fielding a Kawasaki ZX-10R under the Mad Macs banner.
Within a couple of outings he was lapping faster than in his first career, going head to head with Quintin Ebden (one of his rivals from those days, and who has never given up racing) and challenging the establishment in the SuperMasters Class for riders over 35 years of age.
Cragg and Ebden will go to Killarney tied on 87 points apiece - which not only puts them at the top of the SuperMasters standings but also joint third in the regional series. There’s a lot of pride at stake here: expect fireworks.
While we don’t realistically expect anybody to challenge JP Friederich and the GR Tax/MSO Racing SV650 for line honours in the 650 class, there’s an interesting rivalry developing between Paul Medell (Kawasaki ER650) and Chris Williams’ Trac Mac ER650 for second, with Mike van Rensburg (Simple Maintenance ER650) to keep them honest.
But the really close racing, as always, will be in Class B, where Zante Otto on the Otto Racing R3 and Kewyn Snyman (Mag Workshop RC390) will pick up where they left off last time, separated by just 0.013s - less than the width of a tyre!
Finally, it’s always difficult to predict the contenders in the Clubmans Class, although mention must be made of Chris Williams (yes, the same Chris Williams) who rides a thundering Trac Mac Ducati Panigale in this class, and Shamier Alexander on the Econyze R6 - although it is likely that the lighter Yamaha will have a distinct advantage if it’s wet.