Ultra close racing, brilliant spectacle and debut victories for a new marque typified the opening rounds of this year’s SA Motorcycle championships at Kyalami on Saturday (Ferbruary 23).
Both the Unlimited Superbike and 600 Supersport categories provided excellent excitement, boding well for the rest of the season.
Friday’s unofficial practice session saw the elimination of a top Superbike contender when Robert Portman stepped off his Emtek Yamaha R1 at some 200 km/h through Kyalami’s Turn Two.
He suffered several broken ribs plus severe bruising, and took no further part in the weekend’s proceedings.
Chris Leeson (Motorrad BMW S1000 RR) grabbed pole position during Saturday morning’s official qualifying session.
He shared the front row of the starting grid with Clinton Seller (Portable Shade Kawasaki ZX10), Nicholas Grobler (Pta North Kawasaki ZX10R) and Dylan White (Emtek Yamaha R1).
Leeson fluffed his start in the opening race, while White’s Yamaha suffered electronic maladies.
That left Seller in the lead, followed by Grobler, Ryan Ottens (Motorrad BMW), a recovered Leeson and Clinton Pienaar (Superbike Magazine BMW).
Leeson got his head down, passed Ottens and Grobler on consecutive laps and set after Seller.
He could not close the gap, and a delighted Seller took the season’s first victory.
He led home Leeson, Grobler, Ottens, Pienaar and Stephen Steenkamp (Pta North Kawasaki).
The second race saw Leeson and Seller engage in full time war, eventually diving through corners side by side, with Grobler in close attendance. It boiled down to the very last corner, where Seller got a wheel in front and hung on to the line. He won from Leeson and Grobler, with the three riders covered by four tenths of a second. Ottens, Pienaar and Steenkamp rounded out the top six places.
The 600 Supersport qualifying saw the Portable Shade team’s all new MV Augustas take the quickest two laps, ridden by Cam Petersen and Brent Harran. They were joined on the front row by Lance Isaacs (Pta North Kawasaki ZX6R) and Nicholas Kershaw (Race Bike Rentals Kawasaki). Petersen snatched the lead at the start of the opening race and he was never headed again.
Behind him Brent Harran and Lance Isaacs fought long and hard, with Isaacs eventually crossing the finish line a single bike length ahead. Dean Vos (Emtek Yamaha R6), Nicholas Kershaw and Gareth Davidson (TK Imports Kawasaki) filled the next three places. Race two was a carbon copy of the first, with Petersen again leading from lights to flag.
Isaacs again snatched the second place from Harran, with Vos, Kershaw and Davidson rounding out the top six.
The next round of the South African Motorcycle Championship will be held at the Western Cape Killarney circuit on Saturday, March 23.