Action-packed racing at Killarney extreme festival

15-year-old, Tate Bishop showed the national polo cup field a clean pair of heels in two of the three heats on his first outing.

DAVE ABRAHAMS

Killarney International Raceway’s loyal fans were the real winners at the Extreme Festival on Saturday March 5, as they enjoyed national championship racing – live, loud and up close – for the first time since September 2019.

The headline GTC category fielded a record entry of nine GTC and 16 Supa Cup cars, and delivered the biggest drama of the day when a major pile-up in the kink on lap two of their first race took out four Supa Cup cars – fortunately without injury to any of the drivers – and brought out the red flags.

Defending champion Robert Wolk (Chemical Logistics Corolla) led from the restart to the flag, chased all the way by Daniel Rowe in the works Volkswagen Golf 8 and Bradley Liebenberg’s HYPE Engineering/Sparco/Universal Motorsport S3.

Keagan Masters (Motui/Perfect Circle Polo) led home the SupaCup contingent in eighth overall, after a race-long battle with Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Motorsport Polo) and 2021 Polo Cup champion Leyton Fourie, making an impressive debut in the premier league.

Julian van der Watt (Auto Zone Focus RS) gave the Ford fans something to cheer about as he grabbed the lead on lap one of Race 2 and held off the combined attentions of Wolk, Rowe and talented local GTC rookie Andrew Rackstraw (Investchem Logistics/RDSA A3) to take the win by less than a quarter of a second.

Local heroes thrilled the crowd with three hard-fought wins in the one-make CompCare Polo Cup races, two of them for 15-year-old rookie Tate Bishop (Angri Racing Academy/GAP Polo), and one for Jurie “Umpie“ Swart (Bullion/IT Polo). Race 1 was a cracker, as Swart and team-mate Giordano Lupini fought all the way for second with Dawie van der Merwe (Universal Motorsport Polo); they finished in that order with all four covered by less than a second.

Local riders used their home track advantage in the SunBet ZX10 Masters Cup races as they finished first, second, third and fourth in both races – but that was only after 20 laps of world-class two-wheeled racing on identical Kawasaki ZX-10R superbikes shod with identical Bridgestone tyres, with winning margins as close as six hundredths of a second and elbow-to-elbow racing throughout the field.

Pole-sitter Ronald Slamet pulled a huge wheelie off the start in race 1, handing the advantage to Trevor Westman, with David Enticott and Rob Cragg in close pursuit. Slamet, however, was not about to let the short-circuit veteran get away without a fight, and stayed with him all the way, while Cragg soon came under pressure from multiple Masters Cup champion Graeme van Breda, who demoted the local man top fifth on lap five

The action in midfield was hectic, as places were traded on every lap, but Slamet was closing on Westman at the sharp end. He made his move and grabbed the lead two laps from the end but was unable to shake the tow.

As the two leaders entered the final corner nose to tail, a lap later, a momentary hesitation caused by a back-marker was enough for Westman; the two came up the hill onto the Porsche Club straight almost side by side but it was Westman who had a wheel in front at the moment of truth. Enticott came home a distant third while Cragg slipped past the reigning champion on the final lap to finish fourth.

Slamet pulled another wheelie off the line at the start of Race 2 but controlled it better to dive into Turn 1 ahead of Enticott, Van Breda and Westman. By the end of lap one, however, Westman was up into second, Cragg was third ahead of Enticott and Van Breda had slipped back to 10th.

● Dave Abrahams is the public relations officer for Killarney Raceway.