|Posted on May 2, 2018 at 6:25 PM|
Heavy wind, close racing and new lap records were the highlights at the third round of the 2018 SuperGP Champions Trophy which took place at the East London Grand Prix Circuit in the Eastern Cape on Saturday, 28 April 2018. Clint Seller (King Price Extreme/Bikefin Yamaha R1) won both of the SuperGP heats while his teammate Blaze Baker (King Price Extreme/Bikefin Yamaha R6) did the same in the Super600 class. Taric van der Merwe (Evolve Nutrition Yamaha R3) and Dino Iozzo (King Price Extreme/Bikefin Honda) shared the Super300 wins.
Seller was quickest in all of Friday’s practice sessions, so it was no surprise when he set the two fastest lap times during the afternoon qualifying session giving him pole position for both of Saturday’s races. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Michael White (Consortium Shipping/Ridgeway Sports Bar Yamaha R1) and David McFadden (RPM Centre/Stunt SA Kawasaki ZX10R). Daryn Upton (Uncle Andy Racing Suzuki GSXR 1000 headed the second row of the grid with Dylan Barnard (Shop #74 Yamaha R1) and East London local Jason Lamb (Spindrift Trading 96 cc Kawasaki ZX10) alongside him. The third row was occupied by Damion Purificati (Amalgam Welding Shop BMW S1000), Travis Naude (Kawasaki ZX10R) and Gavin Upton who was out on brother Daryn’s spare Suzuki GSXR1000 after his Turn Skill Engineering / Shop #74 Yamaha R1) suffered mechanical maladies.
Seller was soon into his stride in the opening race and opened up a comfortable lead, which he was then able to manage, early on in the race. White and McFadden were his closest challengers until McFadden’s clutch let go about a third of the way through the race. White couldn’t close the gap to Seller and settled for a safe second place and the championship points that go with it. Daryn Upton brought his Suzuki home in third while Barnard got the better of an early race duel with Lamb to take fourth. Naude and Purificati had a race-long duel that went the way of Naude. Gavin Upton ended in eighth.
While Seller had things largely his own way in the first race, the same cannot be said in the second. He and White were never more than a couple of bike lengths apart with the gap at the line just 0.029” in Seller’s favour although White did have the consolation of setting a new Superbike lap record. McFadden did manage to get the clutch in his bike repaired in the gap between races, but his day came to a premature end when he crashed out of third place after just a couple of laps. Lamb and Barnard then took over the battle for third with Barnard seeming to have the upper hand until his race also came to a premature end with four laps remaining, leaving Lamb to take the final podium spot. Naude, Purificati and Daryn Upton, whose bike was stuck in fourth gear, rounded out the top si.
Baker has always enjoyed riding at the East London Grand Prix Circuit and showed that in Friday’s qualifying with a time nearly three-quarters of a second quicker than Hayden Jonas (Samurai Racing Yamaha R6) with Adolf Boshoff (Uncle Andy Racing Suzuki GSXR600) a further two tenths back in third. Aiden Liebenberg (Shop #74 / Fercor Construction Kawasaki ZX6) headed the second row from Byron Bester (Hi-Tech Racing Kawasaki ZX6) and Jared Schultz (Uncle Andy Racing Suzuki GSXR600), who was promoted one position after Brandon Staffen (AJH Cooling/Keating & Jansen Kawasaki ZX6) was sent to the back of the grid following a technical infringement during the qualifying session. Kevin Redman (The Computer Shop / Ginger Arrow Racing Yamaha R6), Dain Nelson (TRD Motorcycles Yamaha R6) and William Fried (Uncle Andy Racing Suzuki GSR600) rounded out the front three rows of the grid.
The opening race was red flagged early on when Luca Balona went down had at Potters Pass. Luckily, he was OK although the same cannot be said for his Armadillo Concepts Fibre Tech Kawasaki ZX6. At the restart, Baker grabbed the early lead and looked like he was going to run away with it, but Boshoff has other ideas, slowly closing the gap until it came down to a sprint for the line out of the final corner. Baker’s Yamaha had just enough to hold off Boshoff to take the win. Jonas couldn’t stay with the leading duo and had to settle to for third ahead of Bester, who got the better of a race-long battle with Liebenberg. Schultz just managed to hold off Staffen to take sixth with Nelson in eighth.
Baker was running away with the second race, setting a new Super600 lap record on the way, when the red flags came out after Redman crashed heavily. He repeated that after the re-start and had again built up a lead of over three seconds when the race was red-flagged for a second time. When the times of the two halves of the race were added together it was Boshoff and Liebenberg who joined Baker on the podium. Bester and Staffen ended in fourth and fifth respectively ahead of Jonas, who had an off-track excursion in the opening segment of the race. Schultz, Nelson and Friend rounded out the top six.
Iozzo and van der Merwe traded fastest lap times in the Friday qualifying sessions before Iozzo grabbed pole position in qualifying with van der Merwe just behind him. Kewyn Snyman (The Mag Workshop KTM RC390) joined them on the front row. Ryno Pretorious (Pretorious Blomme Yamaha R3) just bettered Zante Otto’s (ORT-Online Yamaha R3) time to take fourth with Tyreece Robert (Uncle Andy Racing / Motol KTM RC390) on the outside of the second row. Dominic Doyle (Techron Systems KTM RC390), Luca Coccioni (Monroe Racing RSA Yamaha R3) and Deegan Claassens (Nine Nine Racing Kawasaki Ninja 300) filled row three.
With the changes to the 2018 calendar, three Super300 races were run on the weekend, the first of which took place late on Friday afternoon. Two of the riders that should have been challenging for the podium were eliminated early on when Robert and Otto, who was leading the race at that stage, crashed out at Cocabana, this after Snyman somehow stayed aboard his KTM after having a wild ride through the grass when he was forced wide at Potter’s Pass. When things settled down, the dice at the front was between van der Merwe and Iozzo with van der Merwe taking a narrow victory at the end of 10 hard-fought laps. Snyman set the quickest lap time of the race as he worked he way through the field, eventually taking the final step on the podium. He led home a three-way fight between Doyle, Pretorious and Coccioni, the trio separated by just over a tenth at the line. Chase Hulscher (Uncle Andy Racing / Motol KTM RC390) and Claassens rounded out the top eight.
The strong wind on Saturday morning blew the light-weight bikes around far more than their heavier counterparts in the bigger classes, necessitating some set-up changes for many of the riders. Race 2 again had Iozzo and van der Merwe fighting it out at the head of the field swapping positions all the way through. This time it was Iozzo who had his wheel in front at the line, taking the win by 0.032”. Snyman and Pretorious diced for the final podium spot early on, but Snyman was able to pull away slightly in the latter stages to take third. Coccioni ended in a somewhat lonely fifth ahead of Doyle, Hulscher and Claassens.
The third race could have gone to any one of four riders. Van der Merwe, Iozzo, Pretorious and Snyman thrilled the East London crowd, changing positions almost every corner. In the end, it was van der Merwe who crossed the line first ahead of Pretorious and Iozzo with Snyman in fourth. The leading quartet had opened a substantial gap to the chasing pack, but that didn’t mean the racing was any less intense. The duel for fifth between Coccioni and Doyle also went down to the wire, Coccioni taking it by just 0.049”. Hulscher and Claassens again finished in seventh and eighth.
The BOTTS class also had three races at the event, with Thomas Brown (Rehab Racing Ducati) taking the first race win from Mick Landi (Rehab Racing Ducati) and James Harper (Moto Uno Ducati). Race 2 also went to Brown, this time from Harper and Alan Hulscher (Moto Uno / Aldor Steel Fabrications Ducati). Hulscher took victory in the final race with Harper and Brown following him home.
BSMC Unlimited Superbikes
On top of riding in the SuperGP class, Jason Lamb also did duty in the regional class, where he took both race wins. Kevin Redman and Pierre le Roux (Buffalo Service Centre Kawasaki ZX10) followed him home in the first race with le Roux and Garrit Nel (Conlon & Associates Kawasaki ZX6) joining him on the podium in the second.
The SuperGP Champions Trophy now heads to the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit where the SuperGP and Super600 competitors will showcase their talent as part of the SA Bike Festival which takes place between 25 and 27 May.
Published by: Paul Bedford
Categories: FMN News South Africa