Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Cup Riders using all of the track and more

Photo credit: RacePics

After the long break the time had finally come for the 2019 racing season to get going.  The all-bike “Day of the Champion” race day traditionally kicks off the Zwartkops racing categories, and 2019 was no different.

Photo credit: Paul Blackburn

Official practice was scheduled on the Thursday morning leading up to the weekend, where a strong field of riders turned up to the circuit to test the track conditions, following the recent track resurfacing in the off-season. More importantly, the practice allowed for some much needed track time on the new Bridgestone R11 tyres, which are now the newly allocated tyres for the series.

Qualifying

Due to a few unfortunate, and unforeseen, circumstances I was a non-contender for this round and setup camp on the grandstand for the season opener. The track conditions had kicked up quite a bit of concern for the two-wheeled racers leading up to the weekend and news of a bit of oil on the circuit dropped by some of the classic cars, which raced on the Saturday, seemed to create added tension in pit lane. The series organisers were however quick to spring into action with a thorough “clean up” operation just before the ZX10 qualifying got underway.

Photo credit: RacePics

Twenty two Kawi’s lined up in pitlane ready for action, with the aim of getting as close to the starting line as possible. The field initially took their time, sussing out the track and scrubbing in their Bridgestone tyres before making the final push for the fastest lap.  Graeme van Breda was the man to watch putting his Stefanutti Stocks machine on pole position, Gareth Bezuidenhout took second place narrowly missing the fastest lap by 0.18 seconds and Michael Smit completed the front row. Jonty Collard, Jaco Gouws and Appanna Gunapathy headed up the second row ahead of seasoned ZX10 racers Teddy Brooke, Johan Le Roux and Greg Bezuidenhout. Fresh face Morne Potgieter took the final top 10 spot whilst Sifiso Themba was in the mix in 15th place and Ruan Oberholster in 20th.

Race 1

Twenty one Kawasaki ZX10R’s left pitlane making their way around the 2.4km Zwartkops circuit trying to get as much heat into their Bridgestones as possible before lining up on the grid in their allocated positions.

Photo credit: Paul Blackburn

Lights on…. Lights off…

The field absolutely roared through turn 1 at tremendous pace. Race favourite Graeme van Breda hit the front early and looked extremely aggressive ahead of the 20-strong field who jostled for position in the opening laps. Gareth Bezuidenhout got a magic start and looked to keep van Breda honest in the early stages. New comers to the series, Morne Potgieter and Gareth Jackson settled into the pace very quickly and battled hard with the likes of series regulars Apanna Gunapathy, Andre van Vollenstee and Jacques Ackerman.

Photo credit: Paul Blackburn

On lap 4 Gareth Bezuidenhout disappeared from the timing screens and was out of the race, seemed that he had picked up a technical issue which ended his race early, it was a great pity as the race was really building up to a grand stand finish. Van Breda brought his Stefanutti Stocks ZX10R comfortably home to take the race 1 win ahead of Jonty Collard in a solid 2nd place with Michael Smit completing the podium. Gunapathy took the top 5 spot with Stewie Christie taking the top ten place. Petrus Lafras Fritz just missed out on a top 15 finish but definitely won the biggest battle on track with McLachlan, Oberholster and Ian Harwood.

Race 2

Last dance of the weekend!! The all Kawasaki grid looked racey and ready for battle.  Twenty ZX10’s lined up on the grid and waited for the signal.

Photo credit: Paul Blackburn

Lights on….Lights off…

The second heat was on! Graeme van Breda led the field out of turn 4 and had already managed to pull two bike lengths on the chasing pack. 3 laps in and the race pace had really heated up as the pack had started to come to terms with the new R11 Bridgestone tyres. The pace was evident by the speed that Sifiso Themba travelled through the kitty litter and into the tyre wall at turn 4, luckily walking away without any injury.

Photo credit: Paul Blackburn

Up into turn 5, Gareth “Action” Jackson also decided to explore more of what Zwartkops had on offer by running onto the gravel. Luckily for Jackson the red flag came out for the Themba crash, which put him back on the grid in the track position the lap before. Van Breda had to do it all again after clocking out in the early stages.

Nineteen bikes back on the grid….Lights on….Lights off….

Race 2 was on……again and Van Breda had hit the front early. Up into 5 there were ZX10’s everywhere all looking for the fastest line through the turn. Van Breda cleared off again at the front leaving Collard, Smit, Gouws and Le Roux to battle each other tooth-and-nail for the final podium positions. With 2 laps left to go of the day’s final race, the red flag made yet another appearance to bring the proceedings to a halt.

Photo credit: RacePics

Stuart Russel had gone down at the exit of turn 6 in a massive high side. I was actually amazed that he managed to get up and walk after such a horrific crash. The race was classified as complete with enough laps being ridden in order for the results to be official.  Graeme van Breda took the overall win for the day after 2 convincing wins in both heats.  Jonty Collard and Michael Smit completed the podium ahead of Jaco Gous and Johan Le Roux. Unfortunately Morne Potgieter was hit with a 30 second penalty for a jump start which pushed him down to 15th place.

Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Masters – Overall Results

Pos. No. Class Name Sponsor Race 1 Race 2 Laps Tot. TM
1 41 B Graeme van Breda Stefanutti Stocks 10:56.5061 08:44.641 18 19:41.147
2 11 A Jonty Collard CTek Racing 11:04.7395 08:54.740 18 19:59.480
3 49 A Michael Smit 11:05.0259 08:56.393 18 20:01.419
4 43 A Jaco Gous 11:05.7137 08:57.710 18 20:03.424
5 77 A Appanna Ganapathy ART Racing 11:17.4171 09:04.716 18 20:22.133
6 82 C Andre van Vollenstee 11:20.8715 09:09.805 18 20:30.677
7 44 C Johan Le Roux Avidan Trading 11:36.043 08:59.795 18 20:35.838
8 10 B Greg Bezuidenhout 11:36.0675 09:05.140 18 20:41.208
9 65 C Stewie Christie 11:29.0299 09:12.913 18 20:41.943
10 21 A Gareth Jackson Morphine Racing 11:28.4835 09:17.583 18 20:46.067
11 25 A Morne Potgieter 11:21.5571 09:32.301 18 20:53.858
12 70 A Jacques Ackermann FG Distributors 11:28.7243 09:25.758 18 20:54.482
13 90 B Wayne Spicer Wellness Group 11:36.6011 09:19.344 18 20:55.945
14 28 C Petrus Lafras Fritz Rutpin 11:52.5237 09:30.104 18 21:22.628
15 24 B Ian Harwood TRP Distributors / Berik 11:53.0869 09:29.837 18 21:22.924
16 42 C Rodney McLachlan 11:52.5669 09:32.939 18 21:25.506
17 34 A Ruan Oberholster 11:52.8677 09:34.598 18 21:27.466
18 79 C Colin Preller 12:04.4769 09:45.045 18 21:49.522
19 83 C Stuart Russel Fuel Gas Catering 11:35.1811 08:12.342 17 19:47.523
20 63 A Sifiso Themba 11:35.4855 03:35.758 13 15:11.244
21 22 A Gareth Bezuidenhout 4:22.5489 4 04:22.549

 

Photo credit: Paul Blackburn

The “Green Machines” are back in action again at “The Big Z” on the 9th of March for the 2nd round of the Red Square Kawasaki Masters Cup. I have finally been able to get my hands on my very own Kawasaki and I am looking forward to making my series debut against these racing savages. Hope to see you all trackside at the next one!

A big thanks to Racepics.co.za for bringing my story to life!