Motorrad BMW HP4 makes Free State debut after KZN win
Buoyed by his best performance so far in his debut year with the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team in East London five weeks ago, Chris Leeson makes his first appearance of the year on the new BMW HP4 at Phakisa Freeway in the Free State for round six of the South African Superbike Championship.
In only their fifth outing together, around the daunting and picturesque East London Grand Prix Circuit on June 29, Leeson and the HP4 showed their true colours, winning race two after reluctantly conceding the opening battle to championship leader Clint Seller by no more than a wheel’s length. In the process Leeson recorded the fastest lap by a motorcycle ever recorded at the historic circuit.
Leeson and the BMW have improved with every outing as the team under the direction of BMW Motorrad general manager Rob Holder has got to grips with the electronic suspension that sets this superbike apart from its rivals.
After 10 races at Kyalami, Killarney, Aldo Scribante, Zwartkops Freeway and East London, Leeson (192) trails Seller (215) by 23 points – less than the value of a race win – and is more confident than ever.
“It was very close and exciting in East London and I really should have won both races,” said Leeson. “Phakisa is another challenging circuit on two wheels and I expect another tough battle with Clint and Nic Grobler (third in the championship with 178 points) this weekend.
Leeson’s BMW Motorrad Motorsport team-mate Ryan Ottens will also be giving the Free State fans their first sight of the new HP4 after scoring two hard-fought sixth places in East London to retain his fourth place in the championship on 130 points. He was pipped to the flag in both races by Dylan White, the two riders swopping places and finishing just tenths of a second apart.
“East London was a big step forward for me and the HP4,” said a happy Ottens. “I’m improving with each race as we get to grips with the new bike and I’m looking forward to making more progress at Phakisa.”