Round two of the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 kicked off on the 9th of March 2019 at the Zwartkops Raceway as part of the action-packed Extreme Festival series. The entry list was a strong one with over 20 particularly fast ZX10R’s all signed up to compete in the two (10 laps) sprint races.
The Extreme Festival schedule was a full one, with three different bike categories joining the program. To accommodate for all the categories, only three sessions were allocated on the Friday for official practice. This, however, did not deter the competitors by any means and by the second session the riders were already on the pace and climbing.
New Bridgestone R11’s were fitted, heated (for maximum grip) and rolling down pit lane at 08:11 am on Saturday morning. 22 Kawasaki’s hit the Zwartkops tarmac all looking to get as close to the start line as possible. With qualifying underway, Graeme Van Breda was the man to watch. Two laps into the session he started to hit his markers which saw the lap times tumbling at a rapid rate under the 1:04 bracket and into the high 1:03s. By the 11th lap van Breda had secured pole position with a lap time of 1:03.649, ahead of Gareth Bezuidenhout and Jaco Gous who completed the front row. Michael Smit, Jonty Collard and Teddy Brooke completed row two. The rest of the field from 7th to 20th were all within 3 seconds of each other which meant we would be looking forward to some close racing that afternoon.
With the riders briefed and buzzing on Red Square Reload, it was time for all the battle of the masters to commence on track. 22 bikes fired out of pit lane and took their place on the grid.
Lights on….Lights Off…
And the race was on! The frantic race was short-lived as Action Jackson disappeared into the midpack, opening-corner carnage of turn two only to magically reappear a split second later in a puff of dust on the ground. Unfortunately, his aggressive start didn’t pay off this time. The race continued on a yellow flag until Johan Le Roux looked to attack into turn six but unfortunately hit the back of Collard’s bike putting Le Roux into the dirt and with this the race was red-flagged. Le Roux seemed to be unconscious on the track by the time I came round on the slow down lap but was promptly loaded into the medical vehicle, alongside Action Jackson and transported to Unitas Hospital.
The now 20 rider field lined up on the grid and waited…and waited….and waited some more. Luckily the sun wasn’t beating down or there would have been some cooked pilots in cowhide on the grid. After the fantastic marshal team at Zwartkops had cleared away all the debris from the initial carnage, the race was set to start again. We were given two sighting laps to ensure our Bridgestone tyres were sufficiently heated for the battle ahead.
Lights on…Lights off…
Van Breda made his way to the front and led the Kawasaki crew through the opening corners of the race with Gareth Bezuidenhout in second, ahead of Jaco Gous. As the laps were being ticked off, Van Breda took control of the race and managed the gap. The battle for the top ten positions was fierce with Greg Bezuidenhout, Stewart Christie, Morne Potgieter and Rob Morf all looking to one-up each other at any opportunity. The chequered flag came out after nine grueling laps to wave Van Breda home ahead of Gareth Bezuidenhout and Jaco Gous. Michael Smit took a solid fourth ahead of Teddy Brooke and Jonty Collard. Further down the pack, Wayne Spicer got the better of Andre Van Vollenstee and Ian Harwood who took a hard-earned 14th place with Ruan Oberholster rounding up the top 15.
After a lot of backwards-and-forwards between the marshals and race representatives, and a few shuffles in the schedule following a number of surface inspections, it was finally time to go racing. Eventually at 16:40 20 ZX10R’s lined up on the grid ready for action.
Lights On….Lights Off…
And race two was underway, with a less frantic start than race one, but full of hard passes made in the hairpin of turn two. Van Breda had the lead ahead of Gous and Bezuidenhout with Michael Smit and Teddy Brooke hot on their heels. The field gingerly made their way around the top end of the circuit and tiptoed through the cement dust of turn seven. The times were slightly slower in heat two but Greg Bezuidenhout, Rob Morf and Morne Potgieter left it all out on track with yet another ding dong battle for the final top ten places, which sparked quite a bit of excitement in the grandstands. Van Breda crossed the line first after 10 laps to take the double win for the day ahead of Gareth Bezuidenhout and Jaco Gous. Smit and Brooke finished in the top five ahead of Collard and Christie. Further back Dale Niewenhuys took the top 15 spot in a closely contested battle with Oberholster and Fritz.
The Red Square ZX10 Cup are back in action at the fast-flowing East London Circuit on the 27th of April 2019. For a lot of the new rookies this will be their first time down at the coastal circuit which will make for very exciting racing. I would like to wish all our crash test ZX10ers a speedy recovery and hope all will be fit and healthy in time for round three!!