Round four of the RST Suzuki South regional Superbike series got off to a soggy start with qualifying being run in pouring rain, with the inevitable results as series leader David McFadden high-sided the RPM Centre/Stunt SA ZX-10R on his second flying lap and Brandon Staffen slid the AJH Cooling/RPM ZX-6R into the mud on its side. That meant McFadden had to start Race 1 from sixth instead of his usual pole and Race 2 from the back of the grid.
The top two slots were in fact taken by 2016 champion Brandon Haupt and his brother Bernard on the two Fueled Racing R1s. Bernard Haupt is actually a very talented off-road racer who occasionally comes down to Killarney and races one of the family’s superbikes just to rev up his brother – their father says the two have been fiercely competitive all their lives.
And that’s exactly what happened in Race 1, run on a streaming wet circuit. Bernard Haupt, whose years of dirt riding made him immune to bikes moving around under him, romped away to win by almost seven seconds from his brother. Multiple 600 Challenge title-holder Hayden Jonas, having carefully dialled in the nimble little Samurai R6 for wet riding, took full advantage of its advanced traction control to bring it home third.
McFadden, meanwhile, made up two places on lap one and then brought the Kawasaki home a conservative fourth, unwilling to jeopardise his overseas riding commitments. Gareth Gehlig (Formula Autos ZX-6R) and Jared Schultz (ASAP World GSX-R600 ZX-6R) finished second and third in the Super600 class, while Rob Cragg (Mad Macs ZX-10R) was the first SuperMaster home in ninth overall.
Race 2 was run on a dry track, as is so often the case at Killarney, somewhat negating Bernard Haupt’s advantage. His brother came off the front row of the grid to grab an advantage he was to hold until the dramatic last corner, while Bernard slotted in behind Trevor Westman’s Mad Macs ZX-10R and McFadden sliced through the field to finish lap one in fourth.
By lap two he was up to second and beginning to reel in Brandon Haupt - but on lap three, at more than 250km/h on the back straight, the main fairing bracket let go and a few very scary moments later, McFadden was riding a naked bike. He took the hint and quietly retired to let the Haupts settle matters between themselves.
By this stage Bernard was up to second, albeit a distant second. It seemed all over bar the shouting when a dark cloud moved across the circuit and dropped a minor cloudburst on Turn 5, just in time for the last lap. Brandon Haupt arrived first at Turn 5 for the last time, braking hard on a dry track – and ran into a wall of water. He had no choice but to go straight off into the dirt, where he managed to keep it upright and rejoin – right behind his brother!
The two came up to the kink leading onto the main straight together, their rear tyres scrabbling for traction, and sprinted for the line, where Bernard held the advantage by less than half a second. They were closely followed by Westman, Gerrit Visser on the Samurai R1 and Jonas, all five covered by less than three seconds. Cragg aced the Supermasters class, just ahead of a superb duel for second in the Super600 class between Staffen and Schultz.
In the absence of JP Friederich, who had opted to concentrate on his Super600 campaign, veteran Paul Medell (Kawasaki ER650) delivered a master class in wet weather riding, walking away to win by 22.5 seconds. Chris Williams (Trac Mac ER650) held second until two laps from the end before being overhauled by Mike van Rensburg – and then got slammed with a 30 second penalty for jumping the start.
That promoted Zante Otto, who brought the Otto Racing R3 home a scant 0.069s ahead of Kewyn Snyman’s Mag Workshop RC390 at the top of Powersport B, to fourth overall. But even that wasn’t the tightest finish of the race as Andrew Liebenberg crossed the line on his homebuilt Calberg CBR471 home third in class, just 0.001s (yes, you read right, one thousandth of a second) ahead of Connor Hagan on the MPH Electrical RC390.
Williams kept Medell honest in Race 2, finishing 1.366s adrift after an exciting chase, with Van Rensburg a distant third, while Snyman narrowly beat Otto to take fourth overall and Powersport B honours for the day.
A very wet Race 1 sharply underlined the advantage held by the lighter machines in bad weather as Byron Evans (Yamaha R6) passed early leader Chri Williams (Trac Mac Panigale) and pulled away to win by 6.465 seconds from Willem Binedell (Dog Box GSX-R600), who also passed Williams on lap two and held on to a tenuous advantage to take second by 0.696s.
After wisely declining to risk the 33-year-old machine in the rain, veteran ‘Danie van Killarney’ Maritz wheeled out his Suzuki 1100 Pre-Sling for Race 2 and showed the entire field of current-model superbikes a clean tailpipe, winning by more than 12 seconds from Williams on the big V-twin. Evans lost out to Binedell for third by just three seconds (and beat Wayne Arendse’s Honda CBR600 by a wheel!) before a 30 second penalty for jumping the start dropped him way down the order.