Zwartkops Raceway, the tight and twisty 2,4-kilometre circuit west of Pretoria, was, as expected, the sternest test of the country’s top riders so far this season when they gathered for round six of the Monster Energy SuperGP Champions Trophy on Sunday.
Hot temperatures – 34 degrees Centigrade ambient and 53 degrees on the track – the slightest of breezes and the longest national championship races staged at Zwartkops for the two-wheeled brigade – double the normal 10 to 12 laps – took their toll.
After comfortably controlling the first of the two 25-lap Monster Energy SuperGP races from the front, SuperPole winner and championship leader Clint Seller (Portable Shade Race! Kawasaki ZX10R) won his eighth race of the season, taking the chequered flag eight tenths of a second ahead of the Black Swan Energy BMW S1000RR machines of Lance Isaacs and Brent Harran.
It was the first time BMW had both of their bikes on the podium together at the same time.
Dylan White (Portable Shade Kawasaki ZX10R) was fourth ahead of Ryan van Aswegen (Gem Auto Services Kawasaki ZX10R) and Nicholas van der Walt (EmTek/Brother Yamaha).
Garrick Vlok (Pre-Empt Fire and Security Kawasaki ZX10R) crashed out at around half distance while having one of his best rides of the season, while another championship contender, Brandon Goode (CJ Auto Kawasaki ZX10R, went down on lap six, but remounted to finish eighth.
Race two was even more dramatic with Seller shocking his fans and rivals as he seemed to make an uncharacteristic mistake and crash on lap two while lying second behind Isaacs, who had got the hole shot at the start. After a long visit to the pits he rejoined the race on lap eight, seven laps in arrears, and looking for valuable championship points.
His afternoon got worse on lap 14 when he collided with Harran and Portable Shade team-mate White, who were second and third at the time, as he attempted to unlap himself. White was forced to retire while Seller and Harran continued.
Isaacs won the race in commanding fashion by over 10 sec from team-mate Harran to give the Black Swan Energy BMW team its first 1-2 of the season. Vlok made up for his race one disappointment by taking third place, his best result of the season, ahead of Goode, Van Aswegen and Van der Walt.
Seller finished eighth and six laps down to earn a valuable eight championship points. He now leads Isaacs by 16 points (236-218) and Harran by 44 points (236-192).
Championship leader Steven Odendaal (Portable Shade Kawasaki ZX6R) won the first of the two 23-lap Super600 championship races by a comfortable seven seconds from Dean Vos (Brother/EmTek Racing Yamaha R6) with Nicholas Kershaw (Tsunami Beach Bar Kawasaki ZX6R) third, a further six seconds in arrears.
Pole-sitter Adolf Boshoff (Toy Store Kawasaki ZX6) recovered from a poor start to move into fourth place before crashing while attempting to pass Vos for third place. It was an impressive debut by the 14-year-old who has graduated to the nationals via the Northern Regions championship. Mathew Scholtz (Portable Shade Kawasaki), second on the grid and second in the championship, led initially but sat up and pulled off the circuit while lying second behind Odendaal with six laps to go. He was classified 11th.
Scholtz made no mistakes in race two, winning his third race of the season after a race-long duel with Odendaal which ended with a wafer-thin 0,105-sec gap at the flag. He consolidated his second place in the championship behind Odendaal. Kershaw was a distant third, over eight seconds in arrears, followed by Vos and Blaze Baker (Russell Wood/Muscle and Fitness Gym Kawasaki ZX6R). Odendaal has 256 championship points after six of the eight scheduled rounds to the 196 of Scholtz and 179 of Vos.
Kyle Robinson (Fantech Kawasaki ZX10R) returned to his earlier dominant form in the SuperM Challenge, winning both 19-lap races and extending his lead to 86 over Justin Gillesen (Portable Shade Kawasaki ZX10). Gillesen, who was a non-finisher in race one and fourth in race two, trails Robinson 217-131. Beau Levey, who raced today on his standard road Kawasaki ZX6R, drops from third to fifth in the championship with 107 points after also posting a non-finish in race one and sixth in race two.
Darien Kayser (Uncle Andy Racing/DNA Motorcycles Kawasaki ZX600R) followed up his impressive back-to-back runner- up finishes in the previous round in Durban in August with more of the same today. In just four outings to date he has accumulated 106 points and is a single point behind fourth-placed Janine Davies (More Money/Enbridge Torque-Sure Consultants BMW S1000RR). Davies finished fourth and fifth in today’s races after starting from sixth on the grid on both occasions.