SuperGP Champions Trophy: effloresce
Is it possible to describe a whole superbike racing weekend in just one word?
The N12 (towards Witbank) stretches right into the sunrise. Flocks of birds cross the skyline, animating the quiet hour; their black contrast creating an almost monochromatic wonderland with the trees and steamed up landscape.
Slowly the vibrant orange rolls over the horizon, I squint my eyes for a second or two; Petula Clark sings with a confident voice about bright lights and a place that we can escape to (if this world gets too much): Downtown (?). I will follow her prominent advice. Red Star Raceway beckons on the horizon; this will be my downtown for the next two days.
Round two—of the SuperGp Champions Trophy—is about to kick-off.
Red Star is a very hard, very difficult racetrack to negotiate (at high speed of course). You have to be mentally strong, and on top of that super fit. This ribbon of black reaches quietly (until the superbikes awaken it) into a beautiful Delmas countryside. Four-point-two kilometres of squiggly black stuff: thirteen turns; five very fast straights; and to top it off: they are racing it anti-clockwise—a superbike racetrack favoured by most.
It is still very early. A few hang around the pit complex with steaming cups of coffee. The restaurant has only the regular granular kind, so I guess no sale today. Two mornings without real Arabica coffee will not kill me ...
Privateers keep rolling in; the "grand" lot has already set up camp: Yamaha on the one side; Kawasaki on the other, and to divide this quiet animosity, there are: Johan Otto #69 (KTM RC8R 1190), Ivan van Niekerk #59 (ex BMW S100RR), sporting his brand new Kawasaki ZX10R (thanks Dad!), partnering with Brent Harran #77 (Kawasaki ZX10R) and Mathew Scholts #120 (Kawasaki ZX6R), in the middle.
Saturday features three free practice sessions: SuperGP, Super600 and SuperM. There is also a Superpole to look forward to, the apex of a hard day’s work. From half nine till four spectators can enjoy a full day of FREE motorcycle action, a hors d’ oeuvre, as the French would say. A few spectators pitched, the rest I guess was on lawnmower duty, impatiently waiting for Sunday. I was amazed at the amount of spectators that arrived for this prolific Sunday event. Never in the past have we seen so many people at one motorcycle racing event (except for the 24 Hour). Today we will see more collection taken at the gate than at Church. May the best man win, may the rest (that follows his spent fuel vapour trail) enjoy it immensely. Godspeed!
Superpole delivered the following results: On pole, Clint Seller #1 (Kawasaki ZX10R), with a best time of: 01:54.345. Tight on his Pirelli back tyre was: Brent Harran #77 (01:55.180), Kawasaki ZX10R; Lance Isaacs #38, BMW S1000RR; Dylan White #23, Kawasaki ZX10R, Brandon Goode #71, Kawasaki ZX10R; Garrick Vlok #64, Kawasaki ZX10R, Ivan van Niekerk #59, Kawasaki ZX10R; Ronald Slamet #68, Kawasaki ZX10R; Robert Portman #86, Yamaha R1; Ryan van Aswegen #33, Kawasaki ZX10R and Nicholas van der Walt #42, racing a Yamaha R1.
The only two in my book that can truly stand up to Clint "Evel Knieval" Seller are Brent Harran and Lance Isaacs. Lance has the most race days under his belt, the most track experience.
After a long day in the hot sun, and an annoying westerly wind (which gave rise to race dreams and a Vox Telecom advertising banner (?)), I return to the Red Star pit complex. The day ended beyond my expectations. Today ... is a good day to die. After a few refreshments, after a few animated chats, I returned to whence I came from, away from Petula Clark’s Downtown.
Sunday: Damn! And I miss the sunrise (normally I don’t). The vista is all white washed, with the sun already high in the sky.
SuperM is up first at ten: Kyle Robinson #18; Justin Gillesen #46 (he will definitely have a go at Kyle); Teddy Brooke #93, Kawasaki ZX10R. Then there’s the only lady in the SuperM team: Janine Davies (née Mitchell), straddling a very powerful BMW S1000RR. Two six-hundred race-bikes will also join the fray: Darien Kayser #89, Kawasaki ZX6R, and eighteen year old Kevin Redman #76, racing a Yamaha R6.
On the Super600 front, 17 scoot jockeys will eagerly populate the Red Star starting grid. With favourites like: Cameron Petersen #1, Yamaha R6; with his identical twin Blaze Baker #51 (according to the official race programme), racing a Kawasaki ZX6R; Anthony Shelley, Kawasaki ZX6R. Then there is Dean Vos #49, Yamaha R6; Mathew Scholtz, Kawasaki ZX6R; Stephen Odendaal #44, Kawasaki ZX6R; and Michael White #58, Kawasaki ZX6R. Saturday saw Michael taking a bad spill in turn one/two. Sunday, at the other end of the spectrum saw Rickey Lee Weare #34 crashing in turn 13 ... Karma maybe? With his (Michael) race-bike all duct-taped together (to keep its integrity of course), the young man was ready for another massive attack. He might not have had the best looking 600cc Kawasaki on the black, but he surely had the most beautiful brolly girls. 'Next time girls, remember the umbrellas.'
The main event of the day, the epicentre of the SuperGp Champions Trophy, is the SuperGP racing event. The thundering thousand CCs are what we came to see: Clint Seller, Dylan White, Robert Portman, Ryan van Aswegen, Nicholas van der Walt, Garrick Vlok, Lance Isaacs and Ivan van Niekerk.
Further down the race programme: Ronald Slamet. He might be new to our inland racetracks, but, he surely sports a lot of vital talent. Let’s keep this scoot jockey in focus. Then there is Brent Harran, and at the bottom of the page, Brandon Goode.
The SuperGP racing was not as close as I would’ve liked it to be. The competition was somewhat fierce, the sweat real, but not close enough: Seller and Isaacs toyed with each other down the back straight and through the quick turns (3/4/5), down at the bottom of the racetrack (in my opinion). Race two saw Seller retiring early to the pits. Harran banked big time on this opportunity and raced his heart out. THIS was the best race meeting of the day. Initially Isaacs blew hot air up his neck. As the laps ticked off, the gap between the two grew with each passing. Elated Harran received the chequered flag in a best time of: 01:54.830. Isaacs throttled a best time of the day: 01:54.710. He even fared better than Sellers’s first-race lap time: 01:54.732. There is light in the proverbial tunnel for the BMW race team.
Round two of the Mpumalange SuperGp was executed to precision. Gas Sports did a fine job with this Red Star meeting; most will whole heartily agree with me. A standing ovation is what they truly deserve.
The masses came and went (event though I found the ticket prices a bit over the top, and the extra twenty to access the pits). But still, the racing was out of this world. Birds flocked the skyline, the sunset blinded me as it slowly reeled the orange rays in, to proclaim this day done. I drove back truly satisfied, enjoying a different Sunday than usual. Regrettably, I will miss the next few away race events; please don’t despair, until the SuperGP thunder returns to local shores.
One word comes to mind; one word to describe a successful superbike weekend, here’s to Gas Sports—EFFLORESCE! —Godspeed! •
SuperGP Champions Trophy SuperGP: Ronald Slamet #68
—Red Star Raceway.
Lance Isaacs #38
—BMW S1000RR. With Brandon Goode in die backdrop.
Brent Harran #77
Brandon Goode #71
Clinton Seller #1
Brandon Goode #71
—Backdrop: Ronald Slamet #68, Ivan van Niekerk #59.
SuperGP Champions Trophy, SuperGP, Red Star Raceway, South African Motorsport, 2014/04/27.