Reigning South African Superbike champion put on a peerless display of precision riding around the high-speed Phakisa Freeway near Welkom on Sunday to claim back-to-back victories in the opening round of the Monster Energy SuperGP Champions Trophy
Riding a PS Race! Kawasaki ZX10RR, the former national Supersport champion’s domination included fastest qualifying time around the 4,24-kilometre Free State circuit – a favourite among the country’s bike racers – fastest Superpole time to secure the coveted pole position on the starting grid and best lap in both 15-lap races to set the first-ever SuperGP lap record.
He was given a good run for his money by Nicolas Grobler (BMW S1000RR) and Brent Haran (Kawasaki ZX10) in race one, but the gap at the finish was a comfortable 7,6 seconds to Grobler and 9,5 seconds to Haran. Former Supersport champion Lance Isaacs (BMW S1000RR) was fourth, ahead of three-times former Superbike champion Greg Gildenhuys, also on a BMW. Gildenhuys did well to recover from a fall in the early stages while chasing Haran and dropping to the back of the field.
Race two was also a relatively easy win for the champion, who finished 5,4 seconds ahead of Grobler, while Gildenhuys turned things up a notch to cross the line third, just three tenths of a second ahead of Dylan White (PS Race! Kawasaki ZX10). Gildenhuys’ overtaking manoeuvre on Whyte to take the final podium spot was one of the highlights of a great day’s bike racing. Isaacs was a distant fifth and well ahead of sixth-placed Haran.
The two Monster Energy SuperGP races were the headline act in a great new all-motorcycle national championship series that is being modelled on the FIM Superbike World Championship, with free practice and qualifying on Saturday and racing on Sunday. Weather conditions were perfect for bike racing, with overcast skies and a light breeze.
The Super600 category delivered two equally exciting 12-lap races in which Steven Odendaal (PS Race! Kawasaki ZX6RR) took both victories. He got a bit lucky in the opening race when Darryn Binder (Suzuki GSXR) fell on lap three while leading a seven-way battle for the podium positions which included Odendaal, Anthony Shelly (PS Race! Kawasaki ZX6RR), the Kawasaki ZX6RRs of polesitter Mathew Scholtz and Nicholas Kershaw, and the Emtek Yamaha R6s of reigning Supersport champion Cameron Petersen and Dean Vos.
Then Loumari Grobler (Kawasaki ZX6RR) crashed on lap six, breaking a collarbone and causing the race to be stopped. Odendaal made the most of the re-start to open up a gap on his rivals, but Scholtz reeled him in to finish just over a second behind at the chequered flag. Both riders dipped under the I min 41 sec lap mark with Odendaal recording the fastest lap and setting the first Super600 lap record of 1 min 40,392 sec..
Shelly was a distant third, over five seconds in arrears, after coming out on top of a great battle for the final podium position with Petersen. Kershaw was fifth and Vos sixth.
Shelly made an uncharacteristically bad start to race two which left Odendaal, Scholtz, Petersen and Vos to fight it out for the honour of leading. The first three pulled away from the field with Odendaal crossing the line after 12 laps 2,4 seconds ahead of Scholtz, who in turn had to fend off an inspired ride by Petersen. Looking more like the champion he is, Petersen closed to within three seconds of second place on the podium and in the process set the fastest lap of the race.
Binder recovered well from his race one fall, but struggled with a bike that was not as good as it had been before the crash. He finished fourth, over eight seconds behind Odendaal, but a comfortable two seconds ahead of Vos. Shelly was sixth.
Ryan Ottens dominated the SuperM category on a BMW 1000, recording the fastest time in qualifying on Saturday and taking comfortable wins in both 12-lap races. Kyle Robinson (Kawasaki ZX10) was second in both races, a distant 13 seconds in arrears in race one and just 1,2 sec behind in race two after Ottens shadowed him from the start and waited nine laps before making his move.
Janine Davies (BMW S1000RR) made history by becoming the first lady rider to compete in a national championship race for 1 000 cc bikes and set the bar high for those who would follow her by taking the third spot on the podium in both races. She was pushed hard by up-and-coming youngster Kyran de Lange (Triumph 675) and Teddy Brooke (Kawasaki ZX10) in both outings.
De Lange, who impressed on the smaller capacity Triumph among the 1 000 cc bikes, was fourth in race one ahead of Brooke and fifth in race two, when Brooke got the better of him. Colin Lehmann (Kawasaki ZXR) was sixth in both races.
The next round of the Monster Energy SuperGP Champions Trophy is scheduled for Redstar Raceway in Mpumalanga on April 26 and 27.