Motorsport / 25 March 2018, 7:10pm / Dave Abrahams
Cape Town - Reigning South African champion Clint Seller became the first rider ever to lap the 70-year-old Killarney International Raceway in less than 70 seconds on two wheels on Saturday when he posted a lap of 1m09.944s during the final race of the day, the second SuperGP race for production-based litre-class sports-bikes.
And he wasn’t the only one: local teenage hotshot Kewyn Snyman raised the bar for the Super300 class with a lap of 1m24.529 on his way to winning Race 2 and overall class honours for the day.
But Lady Luck was no lady for Seller; despite qualifying on pole, a lights-to-flag win in Race 1 and a new lap record, he was denied a clean sweep by a little cast-aluminium linkage weighing no more than 50 grams.
Race 1 was a Seller benefit; looking cool and controlled (or as controlled as anybody can be at 290km/h on a notoriously bumpy circuit) on the King Price R1, he got the best of the first-corner traffic jam and literally never looked back, moving away from the battle for second by a couple of tenths on every lap to finish five seconds clear of the field.
Regional champion David McFadden got a poor start on the RPM Centre ZX-10R, but by the end of lap one he was fourth behind Darren Upton (Motul GSX-R1000) and Brandon Haupt (Fueled Racing R1).
He passed Upton on lap two to get to grips with arch-rival Haupt and from there it was Game On as the two local riders carved each other up on almost every corner, swapping places on almost every lap, until Haupt pulled off a kamikaze late-braking move on the last lap to lead his rival across the line by 0.031s.
Eleven seconds later Upton led Michael White (Consortium Shipping R1) across the by about the same margin after another superb dice, followed by Trevor Westman (Madmacs ZX-10R), Jean-Baptiste Racopeau (VanBros ZX-10R) and Dylan Barnard (Shop #74 R1).
The start of Race 2 was even more chaotic, as McFadden dived through into the lead on lap one, followed by Seller, Haupt and White, but Seller powered past on lap two and on lap three laid down that epic 1:09 lap to break free of the pack.
By lap 11 he was three seconds clear when Morne Geldenhuis (NCA Plant Hire R1) went tumbling into the dirt in Turn 1, bringing out the red flags. Apparently badly bruised, shaken and mildly concussed, he was taken to hospital for a complete check-up, while the rest of the field re-formed on the grid.
The re-start was to be a five-lap sprint, making the start even more crucial - but as they leapt off the line it could be seen that there was something wrong with Seller’s Yamaha. The linkage between the shift-shaft and the quick-shift rod had snapped off, leaving Seller stuck in third gear - but worse still, he had to keep the revs down to avoid overheating the engine.
So all he could do was to cruise round at the back of the field and hope to salvage some points - which he did, because his stellar performance in the first 10 laps meant he was classified sixth on aggregate.
Meanwhile, it was all happening at the sharp end, as White and Upton made the best of Seller’s unexpectedly poor start to go to the front, followed by Haupt and McFadden.
McFadden made the pass of a lifetime to go from third to first in Turn 5 on lap two and Haupt, thinking “If he can do it…” moved from fourth to second at the same place a lap later and rode the wheels off the Fueled Racing R1 for three laps to take the fight to McFadden.
He showed the Kawasaki rider a wheel several times but was unable to make a pass, coming home 0.164s adrift, followed by White, Upton, Westman, Racopeau and Super600 rider Karl Schultz, who’d been offered a ride on one of the Motul GSX-R1000s on the Friday and was out there having the time of his life.
There’s only one thing worse than tackling an up-and-coming star rider at the top of his game on a bike he likes and trusts, and that’s taking the fight to him on his home circuit. Take nothing away from Adolf Boshoff (Uncle Andy Racing GSX-R600) and Blaze Baker (King Price R6), who rode out of their skins and put up two superlative dices for second, taking a second and a third apiece.
But there was no getting close to multiple Regional 600 Challenge winner Hayden Jonas on the Samurai Racing R6, who qualified on pole and romped away to win the first Super600 race by 2.5 seconds and the second by an emphatic 6.7 - a huge margin at this level of racing.
Fourth in both races was Jared Schultz (ASAP World GSX-R600); he held off a race-long series of attacks by Brandon Staffen (AJH Cooling ZX-6R) in Race 1 but managed to get clear of superb three-way dice for fifth in Race 2 between Staffen, Byron Bester (Hi-Tech ZX-6R) and Aiden Liebenberg (Fercor ZX-6R) that saw them finish in that order, with just 0.622s covering all three machines.
As is common in Grand Prix racing, the lightweight class produced the closest racing of the day.
Zante Otto qualified the Otto Racing R3 on pole, and led the field into a three-way epic in Race 1 with Dino Iozzo (King Price CBR500) and Kewyn Snyman (Mag Workshop RX390) and that saw Iozzo hold off a last lap double whammy to win by 0.002s from Otto and 0.012 from Snyman.
And just 1.5 seconds later Tyreece Robert held off Connor Hagan by less than half a second to take fifth.
Snyman's KTM developed a clutch problem on the line at the start of Race 2; he stalled and was last away, a long way down and seemingly out of contention. But while Iozzo and Otto got into it again at the front, changing places at least once a lap for the whole fifteen laps, Snyman sliced through the field, bringing Taric van der Merwe with him, to join the fun at the end.
Otto led from Snyman and Iozzo going into the final lap, but got blitzed by all three of the boys in Turn 2; she finished fourth behind Snyman, Iozzo and Van der Merwe - less than a quarter of a second behind the winner!