[dropcap]A[/dropcap] large crowd was treated to some of the best motorcycle racing seen in South Africa when the DEOD SuperGP Champions Trophy made its way to the East London Grand Prix Circuit for the second round of the 2017 championship on Saturday, 29 April.
Qualifying on Friday afternoon gave indication of things to come in the SuperGP category. Clint Seller (MiWay Yamaha Racing R1) looked like he had done enough to grab pole position for the first race despite only being able to complete one flying lap before suffering fuel problems. A red flag brought the session to a halt and once it re-started Seller was unable to go out for another quick lap.
Michael White (Consortium Shipping Yamaha R1) came up with his best lap of the day to take pole position, demoting Seller to second with Greg Gildenhuys (Autohaus Towing / Transport.co.za Kawasaki ZX10R) completing the front row of the grid. Lance Isaacs (SupaBets LIR BMW S1000RR), AJ Venter (Team Hygenica Yamaha Racing R1) and Brandon Goode (Linex Yamaha R1) filled the second row.
Venter got a flyer of a start in the opening race, grabbing the lead from the second row of the grid but Seller didn’t take long to work his way to the front and start opening a gap. It looked like he was going to pull away and take a comfortable win, but Gildenhuys had other ideas.
He slowly reeled the former champion in and, in the end, was able to get past and open a slight gap to take the win. Seller came home in second, ahead of Isaacs with early leader Venter having to settle for fourth. Garrick Vlok (Diamond Core Drilling / Shop #74 Yamaha R1) ended in fifth ahead of David McFadden (Sandon Auto / BMW Motorrad S1000RR) who had to work his way up from the back of the grid after he failed to set a time in qualifying.
The second race turned into one of the best Superbike races ever seen in South Africa. Seller started from 20th on the grid as he only managed one quick lap in qualifying and set about working his way through the field. Before half-distance he joined White, Gildenhuys, Isaacs, Venter and Goode at the font of the field. Positions changed almost every corner, but eventually Seller took the flag just ahead of Gildenhuys with White taking third by less than half a bike length from Isaacs. Venter finished fifth ahead of Goode.
Speaking after the race Seller said, “I could have done another 10 laps. We were just having so much fun together. Even if I had finished third I would have had an awesome race but I was lucky to come away with the win, especially considering where we started.”
In the SuperMasters category Heinrich Rheeder (BMW Motorrad / Rheeder Racing S1000RR) had a great day, taking two comfortable wins from Hendrik de Bruin (Yamaha R1). In the opening race they were joined on the podium by Johnny Krieger (Team Hygenica Yamaha Racing R1) while Beau Levey (Motos Blu Cru Yamaha R1) took third place in race 2.
In the absence of Adolf Boshoff (MiWay Yamaha Racing R6), he damaged his hand in a practice crash on Friday, and Steven Odendaal who was in Spain for the opening round of the European Moto2 championship, the other riders had the chance to bag some valuable championship points.
Blaze Baker (Uncle Andy Racing Suzuki GSXR600) looked to be the one that was going to take full advantage of their absence, grabbing pole position from Hayden Jonas (Samurai Racing Kawasaki ZX6). Kewyn Snyman (Otto Racing Kawasaki ZX6) joined them on the front row of the grid. Kevin Redman (Coral Tree Cottages Yamaha R6), Aiden Liebenberg (Shop #74 / Fercor Construction Kawasaki ZX6) and Byron Bester (Hi-Tech Elements Kawasaki ZX6) filled the second row of the grid.
In the opening race Baker took the early lead but a minor mistake saw him slide off the track and into retirement. This left Hayden to control things from the front and take an easy win. Behind him things spread out a bit with Liebenberg and Dino Iozzo (MiWay Yamaha Racing R6) completing the podium. Luke Gaspar (Cre8work Kawasaki ZX6) and Snyman had a great battle for fourth, the former taking the spot by half a second. Redman completed the top six.
In race 2 Baker was back on the grid, thanks to team mate William Friend agreeing to donate some parts from his bike to fix Baker’s damaged Suzuki. He repaid Friend’s generosity with a lights-to-flag win ahead of Jonas. Redman and Jesse Boshoff (Phoenix Payroll Systems Kawasaki ZX6) had a great battle for the final podium position, Redman taking it by two tenths. Malcolm Rudman (Montclair Motorcycles Kawasaki ZX6) and Liebenberg rounded out the top six.
Taric van der Merwe (Evolve Nutrition KTM390) was untouchable in the SuperJunior category, taking both wins by a comfortable margin. In the opening race Riccardo Otto (Otto Racing KTM390) was a comfortable second with Sam Lochoff (Samurai Racing KTM390) third. In race two Otto and Lochoff had a great battle with Otto again taking second, but this time by less than half a second.
The DEOD SuperGP Champions Trophy returns to the track for round 3 at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria on 13 May 2017