Cape Town – SuperGP, the new national motorcycle series, comes to Killarney for the first time this weekend with practice and qualifying on Saturday 17 May and two races for each of three classes on Sunday.
Headlining the programme will be the SuperGP bikes, near-standard litre-class sports machines bikes. To keep costs down, the rules for this class allow only very limited modifications – in fact one armchair racer was heard to remark that these bikes were probably more standard than most of the streetbikes you see on a Sunday morning breakfast run to Rooi Els.
Thus far, reigning SA Superbike champion Clinton Seller (Kawasaki ZX-10R) has been setting the pace in this category, with the similar Kawasaki of Brent Harran and Capetonian Lance Isaacs on a BMW S1000RR to keep him honest.
Also among the riders who will enjoy a home-track advantage at Killarney are reigning Regional title-holder Ronald Slamet (Mike Hopkins ZX-10R) and under-rated privateer Gerrit Visser, who is running his Kawasaki ZX-10R permanently in SuperGP trim.
While this puts him at a disadvantage in Regional racing, where the bikes are run to the more traditional SA Superbike rules, which allow a wider range of upgrades from standard, it has enabled Visser to compile baseline settings for the bike at Killarney which will serve him in good stead.
Teenager Nicholas van der Walt, in contrast, dismisses home-track advantage as a factor, saying that he can consistently beat some riders on their own turf who can outrun him when they come to Killarney.
He’s also riding a Yamaha R1 under the banner of Johannesburg-based Emtek Racing, for whom this will be an ‘away’ meeting anyway. Nevertheless, this immensely talented young man bears watching, as do his team-mates, Dean Vos and Cam Petersen, each of whom competes in the Super600 class on a Yamaha R6.
Here they’ll have to deal with a fired-up Hayden Jonas (Kawasaki ZX-6R), who has been dominating the Regional 600 Challenge and will give a good account of himself in Super600 as well.
Whether he – or any other local 600cc rider - will be able to take the fight to the established aristocracy of this class - current SA Supersport champion Petersen, and Kawasaki stars Stephen Odendaal and Anthony Shelly, is a big ask; we’ll see about that when the red lights go out on Sunday morning.
The final class of racing on the SuperGP cars is actually a combination of conventional SA Superbike machines, big twins and near-stock ‘run wot ya brung’ privateer bikes.
None of these genres has yet attracted sufficient entries for a stand-alone race of its own, and in some ways it will be a pity when they do. The mixed types and capabilities of the motorcycles in SuperM racing as it stands leads to some fascinating contests between surprisingly closely-matched riders on wildly dissimilar bikes.
Which can also be said of all the classes in this inaugural season of SuperGP; it’s the first time that a South African all-motorcycle racing series has been run according to World Superbike rules. Anything could happen and probably will.
Although the meeting is not being organised by the Western Province Motor Club, the club’s membership cards will be valid. However, certain areas normally open to members will be restricted.