With no less than 48 starters in the headline Mike’s Place Clubmans Saloons opener, the stage was set for an eventful day’s racing at the second leg of Power Series Round 1 presented at Killarney on Saturday February 27.
And so it proved, with crashes and off-track excursions galore, oil spills and traffic jams – and some epic racing.
Danie van Niekerk in the Wingfield Motors BMW E36 passed Niyaaz Modack’s Class F MIM Carriers BMW E46 M3 on the final lap of the first Clubmans’ race to snatch victory by 0.007sec (seven thousandths of a second!) after an eight-lap battle that saw them change places on almost every lap.
Third, five seconds adrift, was Sulaiman Effendi’s nimble little Jimmy Motorsport/MCHD BMW E30.
Baby Jakes (BMW 535i) led the Class B field home in 10th overall, Willem Swart (WFS Motors Jetta CLi) won Class C and Gary Smith’s Truckport Logistics BMW E36 took Class D honours, while Tristan Vercuiel (All Scale Golf Mk1) won Class E and Modack took Class F.
Mansoor Parker (Armien Levy Motorsport BMW E30) took the early lead in race 2 but dropped back in the final stages to finish fifth behind Van Niekerk, Johnson, Huggett and Alberts.
However, there were only 34 finishers out of 44 starters in Race 2.
Two teenage riders making the big step up from the Powersport Motorcycles 300cc Class to the 650cc Class took the fight to the established riders in the bigger category, producing some of the closest, most hard-fought racing yet seen in this highly competitive class.
Some hard work behind the scenes by the riders themselves had produced a near-record 19 starters, setting the stage for two epic races.
Slade van Niekerk, out for the first time on the Project Sixty60 ER650, and short-circuit rival Jason Linaker, making his 650cc Class debut on the RST ER650, got into a five-way battle for the lead in race 1 with defending 650cc Class champion Trevor Westman (Roxstar Ninja 650), veteran Paul Medell (Kawasaki ER650) and Supermotard hero Franco Flach (Kawasaki ER 6N) that saw them swopping places on almost every corner until Medell’s Kawasaki broke its conrod at the end of the back straight on lap six and he ran off the circuit.
From there on Van Niekerk, Westman, Linaker and Flach went at it even harder, finishing two laps later in that order with less than a second covering all four.
Race 2, sadly without Medell, delivered another cracker as Van Niekerk, Linaker, Westman and Flach fought it out in every corner, drafted down the straights and carved each other up like a Sunday roast for eight nail-biting laps, finishing in that order with Flach in fourth less than half a second behind the leader.
The South Motorcycle One Hour Superbike Endurance Race was virtually a Haupt family benefit, as Brandon Haupt led almost from lights to flag, riding solo on his 2018 Regional championship-winning Fueled Racing R1. He covered 45 laps in the hour and posted the fastest lap of the race at 1min13.503.
Older brother Bernard and father Peter, meanwhile, finished third on Peter’s brand new 2020 Fueled racing R1M, one lap behind the Mad Macs ZX-10R of Rob Cragg and Donovan Le Coq, the only team to finish on the same lap as the winner after a superb ride by the two SuperMasters riders.
Sadly, two top contenders failed to finish. Late entry David McFadden, riding solo on his father Norman’s StuntSA R1, suffered fuel pressure issues that forced him to withdraw while running second on lap 10, rather than risk destroying the engine.
Kewyn Snyman’s Mad Macs Motorcycles ZX10, meanwhile, picked up an electronic gremlin that took all its rider aids offline.