South African Superbike National Championship
Round 1 Result
Kyalami, Johannesburg, 23 February 2013
Issued on: 24 February 2013
PODIUMS FOR BMW MOTORRAD MOTORSPORT IN OPENING ROUND
There were podium finishes for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team in each of the two races of the opening round of the 2013 South African Superbike Championship at Kyalami on Saturday.
Former national Supersport champion Chris Leeson made a promising start to his first year with the factory team with pole position in qualifying, two second places and a fastest lap on the 2012-spec BMW S 1000 RR
The 23-year-old from Walkerville in Gauteng was to have made his BMW debut on the new HP4 superbike, but the team settled on the older bike that carried Greg Gildenhuys to a third successive SA championship last year after the late arrival of the software.
Team-mate Ryan Ottens elected to ride his new HP4, but without the latest electronic race kit. The 24-year-old from Fourways in Gauteng finished fourth in both races on the stock standard production bike.
Leeson got his race weekend off to a great start on Saturday when he set the fastest time in official qualifying, three tenths of a second ahead of Clint Seller (Kawasaki). Ottens qualified fourth, but started seventh after being penalised for a rules infringement.
A poor start in race one saw Leeson fall back to third behind Seller and Nicolas Grobler (Kawasaki). Leeson passed Grobler on lap three, but by then Seller had gained an advantage of over three seconds. The BMW rider put his head down and set about closing the gap, reducing it to 1,4 seconds as they chequered flag came out after eight laps
Ottens finished a lonely fourth and was followed home by BMW privateers Clinton Pienaar (Superbike Magazine S 1000 RR) in fifth place, Ivan van Niekerk (Recon Engineering S 1000 RR) in seventh and Heinrich Rheeder (Big Boss Auto S 1000 RR) in eighth.
The second race over 10 laps was a much closer affair and one of the best dices of the opening day of the 2013 Super Series. Seller and Grobler again got the better of Leeson at the start, but this time the three were locked together in a high-speed train throughout a thrilling race, covered by half a second and at times almost three abreast through the frighteningly fast turns 1 and 2.
Leeson moved up into second place on lap five and took the chequered flag just 0,024 sec behind Seller and 0,442 sec ahead of Grobler. He set the fastest lap of the race on lap six as he challenged Seller for the lead.
Ottens was again fourth with BMW privateers Pienaar fifth, Rheeder seventh and Van Niekerk ninth.
Leeson was happy with his BMW debut. “It’s an awesome bike. I can’t wait to race the HP4. I made a hash of the start in the first race and I battled to get into a rhythm as I fought with Nic for second place. This allowed Clint to get away and all I could do was play catch-up.
“The second race was much better and we had a good battle. I’m confident with the HP4 we’ll be able to challenge for race wins.”
Ottens enjoyed his first ride on the factory HP4. “Even though we didn’t have the full race spec and electronics it was better than the S 1000 RR I rode last year. We had a good result considering the bike was stock standard. I liked the launch control. It made it easier to get off the start line quicker.”
The next round of the championship is at Killarney circuit in Cape Town on March 15 and 16.