Even when the track surface is dry, grip levels are lower when it’s cold; this is especially so during the first lap, before the tyres reach their proper working temperature, and the more powerful the motorcycle, the worse it’s affected.
This has the effect of narrowing the gap between the top riders and the chasing pack – and in particular, between the leaders and the top 600s. A rider with the skill and the nerve to exploit this can make up for a significant power deficit; it’s not unusual to see the top 600 Challenge riders mixing it with the leaders on a wet race day.
Another factor to be considered is the infamous ’Killarney weather’. History shows that on the majority of winter race days at the Cape circuit, it has been raining for qualifying, but the rain has stopped shortly before Race 1 and the track is almost always cold but dry for Race 2.
This weather pattern is very frustrating for the riders, since conditions change not only from race to race, but also from lap to lap – but it makes for fascinating viewing for those spectators who wrap up warmly and brave the elements.
Among the riders with proven ability on cold or wet circuits are current and former 600 Challenge champions Warren Guantario, on the Mad Mac’s ZX-6R, and Hayden Jonas, on the Samurai Racing ZX-6R. Expect to see these two closer to the leaders this weekend.
Changing the dynamics
Also likely to make hay while the sun doesn’t shine are on-form Trevor Westman (Mad Mac’s ZX-10R), Gerrit ‘the Ginger Ninja’ Visser, on the Samurai Racing R1, and the only one of the Haupt clan who has entered for this weekend, father Peter, on one of the family’s two Yamaha R1s.
The expected cold weather will change the dynamics of the entire field, but possibly the biggest unknown factor will be Ronald Slamet, who would start as clear favourite on the IS Freight R1 if the weather was warmer. He’s been known to rise magnificently to the occasion under appalling conditions, while on other winter race days he has been seen to struggle.
Expect to see poor times in qualifying from this man, and a heroic comeback during the races. Slamet says he’s ready for this one; will it be enough to give him the wins? You’ll have to be there and see for yourself.