Cape Town - Motorsport can always be relied on to deliver a few surprises, and Round 6 of the Mike Hopkins Motorcycles regional series at Killarney was no exception.
Qualifying was run in heavy rain, and less than half the riders risked it on the circuit at all, which produced a topsy-turvy grid with three 600 Challenge machines on the front row, led by David Enticott on the Motorwise 675 Daytona, and the top riders in midfield.
By race time, the track was substantially dry but the opening lap was, unsurprisingly, chaotic; Trevor Westman (Mad Mac’s ZX-10R) and David McFadden on the Sandton Auto S1000RR sliced their way through most of the 29 strong field lead by the start of lap two, but Hayden Jonas (Samurai ZX-6R) and Alex van den Berg on the Auto Watch CBR1000RR SP were still holding off the attentions of championship leader Ronald Slamet (IS Freight R1) and Gerrit Visser’s Samurai R1.
Another lap, however, and McFadden was controlling the race from the front as usual, with Westman, Slamet and Visser in close formation. Westman began to lose ground in mid-race, while Slamet punished his tyres in an attempt to catch McFadden, closing down to within 1.6s at the flag.
Westman held off a determined late charge from Visser, who’s improving with every outing on the new Yamaha, to take third while, four seconds later, Jonas got the better of Warren Guantario by less than a quarter of a second after a wheel-to-wheel dice between Killarney’s two fastest 600 Challenge riders that had the crowd on its feet - and the riders grinning from ear to ear.
The start of the second Superbike race was, if anything, even more confused, as Jonas went round the outside of the Turn 1 melee to grab the lead - only to be blitzed down the back straight by the superior straight-line speed of Van Den Berg’s Fireblade. Slamet put in a superb opening lap, moving up to third ahead of McFadden, Kewyn Snyman (Otto Racing ZX-6R), Enticott, Westman and Visser.
But McFadden was not to be denied, moving ahead of Van den Berg on lap two and walking away at close to a second a lap to win by 4.5s from Slamet, whose tyres, overcooked in Race 1, rapidly lost grip, Westman, who was less than half a second further adrift at the finish, and Visser.
Fifth and sixth overall, and once again the top 600s, were Jonas and Guantario, after another superb duel that saw them finish only 0.723s apart.
JP Friederich and his Calberg SV650 have stamped their mark on this class, and Round 6 was no different as he romped away to win by almost 20 seconds. Behind him, however, Paul Medell and Chris Williams on near-identical Kawasaki ER650’s produced the dice of the day, swopping places on almost every lap, with veteran Medell just 0.103s ahead when it counted.
Sam Lochoff’s new Samurai ZX300 was the first Class B machine home, 1.7s ahead of Gareth Dawson (KTM RC390) with Wesley Jones third in class on the Samurai RC390.
Race 2 was even more exciting, as Friederich came home 13 seconds ahead of another big dust-up between Medell and Williams, with the latter ahead at the flag this time, by less than a quarter of a second.
The Class B battle went right down to the wire, with Dawson, Jones and Lochoff swopping places on almost every lap, and finishing in that order within 0.132s.
The first Clubman race was a cracker, with the top four - William Binedell on the Dog Box GSX-R600, Fran Engelbrecht (Motorcycles & Bits GSX-R750), Jacques Brits (Lize Signs S1000RR) and Owen Francis (Lance Isaacs S1000RR) - finishing in that order within 2.038s, only for Engelbrecht to be penalised 30 seconds for jumping the start, which dropped him down to seventh.
There were no penalties in the second race, however, as Brits came through two laps from home to win by 2.553s, with Engelbrecht holding off a last lap charge from Binedell by the smallest margin of the day, a scant six thousandths of a second, and Francis less than half a second further adrift at the flag.