East London: The second round of the SuperGP South African motorcycle championship at the East London Grand Prix Circuit provided some thrilling racing, well as a number of surprises, which is to be expected at this classic circuit, where fortune often favours the brave but mistakes are severely punished.
Michael White (Consortium Shipping R1) put in a flier after qualifying was interrupted by a red flag to grab pole position from championship leader Clint Seller (MiWay R1) with Greg Gildenhuys (Autohaus ZX-10R) completing the front row.
But when the lights went out it was AJ Venter on the Hygenica R1 who got a flying start off the second row of the grid to lead the pack down to the first corner. That didn’t last long, however, as Seller soon worked his way to the front and began to pull away.
Then Gildenhuys broke away from the pack and, with clear track in front of him, began reeling in the pink Yamaha, passing Seller in the closing laps to take a hard-earned win, with Lance Isaacs (SupaBets S1000 RR) completing the podium in third and, as always, first home of the SuperMaster veterans.
Early leader Venter trailed home fourth, ahead of Garrick Vlok (Diamond Core R1) and Capetonian David ‘McFlash’ McFadden (Sandton Auto S1000 RR), who was unable to set a time in qualifying and had to work his way up from the back of the grid.
Exactly the same thing happened to Seller in the second race; grid positions for Race 2 are taken from your second-fastest lap in qualifying so, since fuelling gremlins and a red flag meant that Seller could only post one flying lap in qualifying, he had to start from the back of the grid.
The race turned out to be a classic, as Seller carved his way through the field by half-distance to join early leader White, Gildenhuys, Isaacs, Venter and Goode in what became a six-way battle for the lead, with positions changing on almost every corner.
But it was Seller who was (just) in front of Gildenhuys when it counted, with White third by less than half a bike length from Isaacs; Venter and Goode rounded out the top six.
Seller said afterwards: “I could have done another 10 laps. We were just having so much fun together. Even if I’d finished third we’d have had an awesome race but I was lucky to come away with the win – especially considering where I started!”
There were more shake-ups in the intermediate class; with Steven Odendaal in Spain for the opening round of the European Moto2 series, Adolph Boshoff (MiWay R6) looked like the man to beat – until he crashed in practice on Friday and damaged a hand, ruling him out for the weekend.
Blaze Baker put the Uncle Andy GSX-R600 on pole, with Capetonians Hayden Jonas (Samurai Racing ZX-6R) and Kewyn Snyman (Otto ZX-6R) alongside him on the front row of the grid.
Baker took the early lead in Race 1 until a minor mistake saw him slide off the track into retirement, leaving Hayden to control things from the front and take an easy win from Aiden Liebenberg (Fercor ZX-6R) and Dino Iozzo on the second MiWay R6.
A race-long dice between Luke Gaspar (Cre8work ZX-6R) and Snyman went all the way to the flag, with Gaspar in front on the line by less than half a second, while Kevin Redman (Coral Tree R6) rounded out the top six.
Baker was back for Race 2, thanks to team-mate William Friend taking some parts from his bike to fix Baker’s battered Suzuki. He repaid the favour with a lights-to-flag win ahead of Jonas, while Redman and Jesse Boshoff (Phoenix ZX-6R) put up a superb dice for the final podium spot, with Redman ahead at the flag by just 0.2s. Malcolm Rudman (Montclair ZX-6R) and Liebenberg rounded out the top six.
Taric van der Merwe walked away with both one-make RC390 races; Ricardo Otto finished a comfortable second in Race1 with Sam Lochoff third. The Samurai racing youngster raised his game in Race 2, taking the fight to Otto and missing out on second by less than half a second.