Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Masters:
Graeme Van Breda #41
—1 + 2 for the day.
—Killarney International Raceway, Western Province Motor Club.
Kyle Robinson #18
—2 + 3 for the day.
To Alette: proud mother and enthusiast
—Pieter De Vos, Graeme Van Breda (Bridgestone Cap), Gerald Van Heerden, Kyle Robinson, and mother Alette.
RED SQUARE STARTING GRID LINE UP:
Graeme Van Breda, Kyle Robinson, Pieter De Vos, Johan Le Roux, Stuart Russell, Jaco Gous, Raymond Keel, Tony Klem, Sid Farinha, Abrie Marais, Jason Joshua, Mike McSkimming, Sanjiv Singh, Chris Marais, Hannes De Vos, Peter Clark, JB Schoeman, Ian Harwood, Michael Smit.
Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Masters: (REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING). CONSUME WITHIN 3 DAYS.
There are certain lines in life that you just don't cross; then there are those that you need to cross, driven mostly by curiosity. Off into a world of uncertainty, I wait patiently in-line at OR Tambo for my ticket; Killarney (Raceway) beckons in the far distance, under the gazing blue eyes of Table Mountain. I earnestly believe that it’s going to be a great weekend.
There's an old man standing in front of me at the wrapping section (OR Tambo). He wants his golf clubs covered in plastic. The assistant uses just about a whole roll of sticky tape to complete the task. In my opinion the protective layer is more worth than the clubs. We start a conversation. He is from Cape Town, returning home. In the same conversation I told him about my reason for visiting the Mother City, also inviting him in the same breath to the Extreme Festival. Maybe I will see him there. We shake hands, and off he goes ... The Red Square Kawasaki Masters have just gained another fan. Back in the early '90s, Dire Straits released a single called: Heavy Fuel (Click Here to Watch).
The lyrics ran something like this: / Last time I was sober, man I felt bad/ Worst hangover that I ever had/ It took six hamburgers and scotch all night/ Nicotine for breakfast just to put me right/ My life makes perfect sense/ Get me in a fight I like dirty tricks/ My chick loves a man who's strong/ The things she'll do to turn me on/ I love the babes, don't get me wrong/ Hey, that's why I wrote this song/ 'cause if you want to run cool/ You got to run/ On heavy, heavy fuel/ ... In some sense, Mark Knopfler knew what waited for me.
Cigarette smoke coils in my wake as I step out of the rented Hyundai H-1 into a refreshing Red Square Kawasaki garage. It immediately reminds me of the cult film: Cheech & Chong, Up in Smoke (Click Here to Watch). With such disregard for small warnings, how will they fair at the track when bigger things arise: NO SMOKING. NO FUELING INSIDE THIS BUILDING. EXCESSIVE NOISE IS BAD FOR YOUR HEARING PLEASE WEAR EAR PROTECTION. Not too well I guess.
The Killarney pit area is quiet this time of day. Testing only starts at half-past-four. To my surprise, and too many others too, some wingless angel had already unloaded the Red Square lorry. Nineteen Kawasaki ZX10R superbikes are all filed neatly down both sides of the garage. This industrious angel better also bring his good fortune to race weekend, which stretches over Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
As the sun falls off behind the horizon, leaving only a bright orange hue behind, I stare out of the Trackside Pub & Grill's first story window, acknowledging that Thursday has almost entered yesterday. I return to our noisy table. Everybody hastily orders well deserved (cold) drinks. Johan Fourie and best pal, JB Schoeman, hit the Brandy & Coke ... constantly. Thank God (and I say this with respect), Pieter is our designated H-1 driver. Tony (Klem) swigs Windhoek Light. He's only having a few. Winning is more important to him, than a thick skull the next morning. Peter Clark sits back and enjoys his Castle Light more than today’s test run. He might not be one of the top runners, but he brings some kind of joie de vivre to the club. Chris Marais, fancies the dry side of life, hitting back a few Savannas. Cowering behind Chris, is Johan Le Roux. He has the mind of a teenager, and the capacity of a Dromedary. Jameson & Coke, is the only drink that brings out his superfast alter ego.
The poor blond waitress is in for a long night, hoping the tip is worth it. The Kawasaki Masters carry an expression of eagerness on their faces. They all look forward to a weekend of hard racing.
This weekend could also be the true decider of who will bear the ZX10 Crown.
Pieter looks troubled, as if he is carrying the world on his shoulders. For a brief moment I realise his burden: there are so many fans, friends and well-wishers that would like to see him wearing it. This will not be easy, not at all. Only a great miracle can pull him through. With three heats left till 7 November, I can truly understand his plight. I return to the window with my sparkling water, there is almost nothing left of Thursday on the horizon. My eyes scan the twilight sky, hoping to see vital signs of some form of extra-terrestrial life, De Vos is gonna need it.
It is 4am Friday morning, and I'm already awake. In the next room an alarm clock goes off, and nobody presses the snooze-button on the damn thing! This is how our lives function: reminders and queues. But before everyone knew it I was in the kitchen, making coffee for everybody. As fresh as a daisy, I’m looking forward to a whole day of continuous thunder ...
Killarney's a very old racetrack. The first thunder to hit her surface was in '47. Her facade bears the scars of more than 60 years of motorsport. They say it is an international circuit, but I doubt it. Maybe in her younger days, when she was still a beaut. Nowadays, everything seemed to have sagged; she still keeps the men (or the occasional women) happy. Down her main straight, you still hear the superbikes and burly production cars scream out loud for her attention. At 253 kph (down the main straight), she might show you mercy, but not, if your attention is divided.
The Kawasaki Masters grab every opportunity to understand her coarse skin, trying to caress her every curve, maybe, just maybe, she will favour their advances. Killarney spans over three kilometres have 11 turns and two straights. What will the outcome be on Saturday?
I stick my head through the main straight fence. To an outsider this cannot be explained: the power and thunder these superbikes exert are absolutely phenomenal.
Pieter plays it seemingly brave, his main straight efforts borders on insanity. The "Terrier" pays no head to the yellow-line, and on almost every lap, ventures into this forbidden area. This line warns riders of an imminent pit wall collision. He is the only rider that follows his race line consistently, without flinching.
For a moment it gets quiet, the Masters are done for the day. Johan Le Roux can't wait to get the first cold one down, and may I say, it is not a Red Square. Told you he is a distinguished Jameson man. With his mind switched to night-owl mode, I can only imagine what he plans for after dark.
Two-four-one-zero gets repeated in ad nauseam. We sit in the KFC drive-thru. JB (Schoeman) tries his best to pay for a (bulk) Zinger order. We are hungry, it is late, the wind blows holes through my rib cage, and still our Hyundai H-1 is parked at the serving hatch. "Two-four-one-zero, yes, Two-four-one-zero ..." repeats JB over and over. Eventually his card got declined, no surprise. Another minute in this drive-thru, and the police would've surely evicted us for illegal squatting. After this hilarious incident, I felt much better, rejuvenated, not tired at all.
Saturday: The Red Square garage is much busier than Friday. Most are working on their ZX10R Kawasakis. This is one race meeting they all look forward to. Things need to be in tip-top shape.
The whole fraternity favours Killarney over Zwartkops Raceway. Is it Table Mountain in the backdrop that makes it so luring, or is it because they are all on a short vacation, away from their wives? Or is it the racetrack itself? Then I remembered what Pieter said: "Killarney is a very tactical track; your mind has to be there, all the time." With 19 riders on the grid, spectators can look forward to something spectacular.
The sun beats down at its normal pace, heating the track to a perfect temperature, and making for riding conditions out of this world. And as they roll in slowly to form the first starting grid of the day, white labels on their Bridgestone Battlax R10 tyres, goes round and round, indicating that they are all on fresh rubber ...
Just before the red lights drop, I block out the high pitch thunder for a moment, letting my imagination drift on the warm eddies. I look over my shoulder to see if I can spot any aliens, but to no avail. This heat is going to be a hard one. With their visors flipped closed, they wait impatiently for the red lights to drop. Their stern faces will change shortly. Turn one is a very fast and dangerous left-hander. With 10 gruelling laps, I feel my own heart pounding in my throat. May the best man win.
Heat one moved by so quickly. In a blink everything was over. Faster than this does not exist, well not here anyway. The chequered flag recorded Graeme (01:14.719), Kyle and Pieter in the top three spots. Over my right shoulder Les Van Breda was overjoyed in his own manner. A whole year of hard work has finally paid off. Trust me, Pieter and Kyle tried their best, but it was not good enough. Maybe next year boys, maybe next year.
Places four, five and six were occupied by: Johan Le Roux #44, Stuart Russell #83, and Jaco Gous #43.
Klem, did not even make it past Raymond Keel in seventh place. Once you fall in his wake, chances are very slim that you will pass him. Whatever kept him in eighth is anybody's guess. Afterwards a lame crank excuse did not sell it for me. He made it back to heat two however, only to complete two wilting laps. Somewhere else on the Killarney racetrack, the grand old lady took Michael Smit to bed, only completing eight laps before he spilled. To my amazement, Jason Joshua, ended up eighth from 11th in heat one.
—The Van Breda pit crew pulls black double knit T-shirts over their euphoric heads. At the back it reads: "2015 ZX10 Cup Champion. Van Breda #41." In the words of Frank Sinatra: "I did it my way."—CONGRATULATIONS!
After heat one I was sort of lacklustre. Graeme took what he came for. What is truly left to fight for? Nothing really. But I must give Pieter his due, he made a considerable effort (in heat two), to shame Van Breda to a second place. Kyle ended up in third, followed by Johan Le Roux, Stuart Russell and Jaco Gous.
"REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING. CONSUME WITHIN 3 DAYS." reads the label. There is nothing to refrigerate, absolutely nothing. The Red Square Masters are always cool; they are the coolest there is. Six and 7 November (2015), will be the last time to see them in action at the illustrious Zwartkops Raceway. The year will draw to a spectacular close, and they will do one heat of twenty gruelling laps. Ninety Rand will get you in, students only R60, and under 12s—FREE.
I’ve had the rare opportunity to spend three splendid days with them. This is truly one of the best motorcycle racing outfits to work for. I have consumed more than I’ve bargained for. Will I do it again? Yes! In some sense I feel like Hunter S. Thompson. I might not write a book soon, but maybe one day I will.
And on this glorious last note, I would like to thank Johan Fourie (Manager), Lynette Fourie, Pieter De Vos and JB Schoeman, from the bottom of my heart, for making the stay so pleasant. Then I would also like to thank the wingless angel, Hannes De Vos. He surely is the main load bearing pillar, of the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Masters Cup. —Godspeed! •
—2015 Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Cup Champion—VAN BREDA #41.
Michael Smit #49
—In better days.
Jaco Gous #43
—Leading the Red Square superbike train.
Mike McSkimming #71
—Entering the fast and furious Killarney pit straight.
Mr Jameson #44
—Tall glass, plenty of ice, double Jameson, Coke—Sláinte!.
Chris Marais #30
—Not in a million years.
Tony Klem #13
—8 + 18 for the day :-(
—Title Sponsor: Red Square. Frontier Diamonds, Fantech, Rand Blower, Lani Industrial, TRP Distributors, BTS Electrical, IVID, Van Breda Motorcycles, Avidan, 1st Tek Electrical, Silverton Bolt & Nut, Dent Doctor Witbank, Platinum Auto, iSolve Business Solutions, Fuel Gas Catering—
Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Masters, Extreme Festival, Killarney International Raceway, Western Province Motor Club, Milnerton, Cape Town, South African Motorsport, 2015/10/24.