The 2020 Livingstone Baths 8 Hour endurance race for lightweight motorcycles took place at Killarney International Raceway’s Karting Circuit on Saturday December 12.
Conditions were perfect, with bright sunshine and a light south-easterly wind.
The circuit itself was clean and stayed that way throughout the event.
Despite the usual crashes, just one rider required hospital treatment (and he was back before the end of the race) and only three short safety-bike periods interrupted eight hours of racing, filled with epic comebacks, dramatic changes of fortune and heart-warming camaraderie.
International SuperStock star David “McFlash” McFadden put the Honda CBR150 of pre-race favourites Team RST, led by British rider Jonny Towers and including Kewyn Snyman and short-circuit hotshot Jason Linaker, on pole with a 48.780 second qualifying lap.
A scant quarter second slower were the similar machines of Team IMI (Aran van Niekerk, Nicholas van der Walt, Mike du Toit and Sean Powell) and Team 60 (8 Hour veteran Trevor Westman, short-circuit champion Slade van Niekerk, Michael White and Greg Geldenhuys).
Van der Walt got the best of the traditional Le Mans start and grabbed the early lead with McFadden all over him like a cheap suit, followed by the Team HSC CBR150 shared by Nicholas Hutchings, Franco Flach, Max Mandix and Abigail Bosson (one of only two women in the race) and White on the Team 60 machine.
White, however, set off like a man on a mission. He passed Hutchings for third on the third lap, took second from Mc Fadden on lap eight and was reeling in the leader when he threw it away big time in the Pits Esses on lap 14, changing the entire shape of the race after only 11 minutes.
In addition to the usual handlebar and footpeg damage, for which the team were well prepared, the Team 60 CBR150 bent its front suspension in the crash, forcing crew chief Allan Westman to rush home and fetch a spare set of forks from another bike. All in all, White’s mishap cost them almost an hour and a half and they rejoined stone last, 100 laps behind the leaders.
Two laps later, Allan Kessell crashed the Jack Hammer’s CBR150 , injuring his elbow and reducing the team to just two riders, Rob Boyd and Craig Rabie.
Meanwhile, McFadden took over the lead on lap 19 and held it until the crew was forced to pit to replace a flat battery near the end of the first hour.
The honours of the day went to RST as team principal Jonny Towers took the flag after a near-record 551 laps in eight dramatic hours. Second were hard-working IMI on 540 laps with HSC third on 529 and making history as the first team in the 38-year history of this endurance classic to put a young woman on the podium – Abigail Bosson, 15-year-old daughter of legendary racer and exhaust designer, the late Chris Bosson.
But perhaps the most surprising result was that after eight hours of flat-out racing, crashing, bashing and breaking, all 20 starters were still running at the end.