Pretoria - Michael White and David McFadden delivered a showstopper in Race 1 of the 2018 SuperGP series at Zwartkops on Saturday, swopping places several times in the early stages before White was able to pull a small but vital gap and secure only the second SuperGP win of his career.
Sadly, McFadden’s chance of a return match later in the day was negated when one of the Super600 machines blew its engine, spreading oil over a large part of the circuit. There was just so much the marshals could do with cement and brooms, and the rest of the day’s programme had to be abandoned.
The drama started early on Friday when Clint Seller practically destroyed his King Price Extreme/ Bikefin R1 in a high-speed crash during practice. Undaunted, he went out on his spare bike and posted a personal best time around the tight and twisty 2.4km Pretoria circuit - only to be told that, due to SuperGP’s strict cost-cutting regulations covering spare machines, it didn’t count and he’d have to start from pit lane…
Charging through the field
That handed pole to White’s Consortium Shipping/Mano Coal R1, with McFadden (RPM Centre/Staunt SA ZX-10R) and Morne Geldenhuis (Hi-Tech Racing R1) completing the front row. And it was those three who made the early running, as Seller began his charge through the field.
But the fairytale ending was not to be, as Seller crashed out early on. He was able to remount and ride the bike round to the pits, but his race was run.
Meanwhile, at the sharp end, White and McFadden were banging elbows while Geldenhuis held a watching brief in third, unable to reel them in but ready to pounce if either made the slightest mistake. And that was the final order, as White eked out a tiny but crucial advantage.
Behind them, Darryn Upton (Uncle Andy Racing GSX-R1000) got the better of brother Gavin (Shop #74/Turn Skill Engineering R1). Gavin, however, took the honours in the SuperMasters ‘race within a race’, ahead of Thomas Brown’s Extreme Print Ducati.
The riders did a three-lap recce of the circuit before the start of the second race, but the consensus was that track was unsafe and race two was cancelled.
Adolf Boshoff (Uncle Andy Racing GSX-R600) and Blaze Baker (King Price Extreme / Bikefin R6) were so evenly matched that they qualified on pole for Race 1 and Race 2 respectively, with Aiden Liebenberg completing the front row of the grid in each case.
And the drama started in the second corner of lap one, as Baker lost the front end of his Yamaha and slid out; he remount and rejoined the field, but stone last with a mountain to climb.
That gave 2016 Super600 champion Boshoff a clear run at the flag, to take the win by more than eight seconds from a five-way battle for second between William Friend (Uncle Andy Racing GSX-R600), Liebenberg, Ricardo Otto (ORT-Online ZX-6R), Hayden Jonas (Samurai Racing R6) and Byron Bester (Hi-Tech Racing ZX-6R).
Friend and Liebenberg fell back out of contention early on, while Otto looked set for a podium finish until his bike cried enough with a lap to go, handing second to Jonas, with Bester third. Jarred Schultz (Uncle Andy Racing GSX-R600) led a Cape Town trio over the line to finish fourth just ahead of Brandon Staffen (AJH Cooling / Keating & Jansen ZX-6R) and Gareth Gehlig (Formula Autos ZX-6R),with three covered by less than half a second.
Baker and Boshoff were fighting for the lead on the second lap of Race 2 when Boshoff crashed out coming onto the pit straight. But by then there was oil all over the place; Jonas and Bester slid off in quick succession and the red flags came out - but with only two laps completed, no result could be declared.
Capetonian Kewyn Snyman, making his national debut on the ORT-Online RC390, threw down the gauntlet in no uncertain terms in qualifying, lapping the circuit 1.4 seconds quicker than anybody else and relegating Chase Hulscher (Uncle Andy Racing / RAD KTM RC390) to the uncomfortable position of “best of the rest”, ahead of Zante Otto (ORT-Online R3) for the first race and Savannah Woodward (Monroe Racing RSA R3) for the second.
Snyman walked away to a comfortable eight-second win in Race 1; as in qualifying, the fight was all behind him, with five riders battling it out in a fight for second that was only decided in the final corner, with Dino Iozzo (King Price Extreme/Bikefin CB500) taking second by little more than a tenth of a second from Hulscher, Taric van der Merwe (Evolve Nutrition R3), Woodward and Otto.
Zwartkops’ Turn 2, the lowest point of the circuit, claimed two more victims as Hulscher and Woodward collided early in the second race, bringing out the red flags. Woodward was up and running for the restart but Hulscher’s Katoom wasc too badly bent to continue.
Snyman gave Otto Racing another emphatic win, with Iozzo a lonely second, ahead of a catfight for the final podium position, as Woodward beat Otto to the line by just 0.041s. Unable to ‘ride like the girls’, Van der Merwe and Tyreece Robert (Uncle Andy Racing RC390) rounded out the top six.