Durban - National championship motorcycle racing returned to KwaZulu-Natal with a bang at the weekend after an absence of more than 25 years, with Round 5 of the new SuperGP series, on a newly constructed 2.4-kilometre circuit on the south runway of the old Durban International Airport.
Dylan White, second in Superpole behind championship leader Clint Seller (each on a Kawasaki ZX-10R), threw down the gauntlet with a superb win in the first SuperGP race after Seller got skittled in the hairpin Turn 1 by 'wild child' Garrick Vlok's similar bike.
White was followed home by veteran Lance Isaacs (BMW S1000RR), who was hoping for better after a win (his first in the series) and a second at the previous round in East London in June but struggled for pace all weekend.
Third was suddenly on-form Brandon Goode (Kawasaki ZX-10R), ahead of Brent Harran in an inauspicious first outing on the second Black Swan S1000RR; Harran never found his feet on the tight, cut-and-thrust airport circuit and didn't make the grid for Race 2.
Seller, fuming at what he considered reckless riding by Vlok (there were words between the two afterwards) got the big Kawasaki back on its wheels and brought it home eighth to retain his championship lead, albeit by a reduced majority.
White got a brilliant start to lead into the hairpin, but Seller was in no mood to stick around and bandy words with the youngsters, blitzing the early chargers and going to the front by the end of lap one. White tried to stuff it down the inside into Turn 1 at the start of lap two, only to outbrake himself right over the handlebars as Seller firmly shut the door in his face.
By the time he could get to his Kawasaki the entire field had gone past and he finally got away stone last.
Seller, however, was right where he likes to be, controlling the race from the front, and he romped away at about a second a lap to lead by more than 10 seconds at one point, although he rolled it back in the closing stages to come home 2.5 seconds clear of Goode (who also took Rookie of the Day), with Isaacs a distant third and a frustration-fuelled White fourth after slicing his way through the field in the ride of the day and posting the fastest lap of the race.
Sellers' seventh race win of the season but him firmly back in command of the title chase but a weekend of hard work and frustration paid off for Isaacs, as he overtook new team-mate Harran for second spot in the standings, with a chance of challenging Sellers' dominance in Round 6 at Zwartkops, where his BMWs has run well in the past.
Local hero Mathew Scholtz, known to home fans as the 'Umhlanga Rocket' gave them something to celebrate with back-to-back wins ahead of Blaze Baker and championship leader Steven Odendaal for an all-Kawasaki podium on both occasions.
It was Scholtz's first time on the top step of the Super600 podium after qualifying on pole on Saturday and finishing second five times in the previous eight races.
Dean Vos on the second of the leading Yamaha R6s was fourth in both races as team-mate Cameron Petersen's bad luck continued.
After crashing out of Race 1 last time out at the East London Grand Prix Circuit and missing Race 2, he took a huge tumble on the opening lap of Race 1 at the Old Durban Airport, bringing out the red flags as marshals cleared away what was left of his Yamaha.
He didn't make the restart, or the grid for Race 2, leaving Durban with an empty points bag, while Scholtz moved up to third with 166 points to Odendaal's 211 and Vos dropped back to third on 140.
Chris Leeson, SA Supersport champion in 2007 and runner-up to Clint Seller in the 2013 SA Superbike series, made a welcome first appearance Kawasaki ZX-10R and dominated proceedings, taking pole position and comfortably winning both races.
Darien Kayser underlined his promise with second place in both races on a Kawasaki ZX-6R, the highest-placed 600cc machine in a category dominated by litre-class motorcycles. Third in Race 1 was Beau Levey (KTM RC8) with the third step on the podium in Race 2 going to Kyle Robinson (Kawasaki ZX-10R).
Robinson, fifth in the earlier outing, retained his challenge lead on 166 points, with similarly-mounted Justin (who was fourth and fifth in the day's two races), second in the standings on 115 points.
The only lady rider in the series, Janine Davies (BMW S1000RR) did well to come from the back of the grid after failing to post a qualifying time on Saturday, to finish ninth and eighth in the two races.
The next round of the championship will be run at Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria on 14 September.