Separating the men from the boys

The Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Cup was on the road for the first time this season. The Japanese beasts were crated, locked, loaded and on their way down to the Prince George Circuit in East London for Round 3 of the championship. Over my racing career, many of my fellow riders have marveled at the […]

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The Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Cup was on the road for the first time this season. The Japanese beasts were crated, locked, loaded and on their way down to the Prince George Circuit in East London for Round 3 of the championship.

Over my racing career, many of my fellow riders have marveled at the sheer speed at which battle take place around the East London circuit, with a special mention of the infamous Potters and Rifle corners, which separates the men from the boys. With a heightened level of curiosity, I decided to make the 10 hour journey to the Eastern Cape, in order to test whether the Slummies track would really put some hair on my chest.

With Round 3 being an away race for the ZX10 series, the organizers managed to swindle an extra practice day on Thursday, for all the travelling categories. Thus allowing the newbies, like myself and Gareth “Action” Jackson, a chance to get to grips with the 3.9 kilometer circuit.

White knuckles were definitely not in short supply as we watched the other Bridgestone categories, during their first practice session of the day. Almost every front wheel was raised off the tarmac on the main straight, attributed not only to the sheer speeds that are reached on the straight but also a well-positioned rise on the track. And thanks to the rainfall from the previous three days, there was a “river” flowing out of the complex corners, covering the apex through the sweep, which changed the corner approach completely.

With a mental note of the slippery corner and with a few deep breaths, it was time to head out on the track with the rest of the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 riders. All the seasoned competitors fired down the pit lane exit and off into the distance at break neck speeds into Potters and Rifle. Teddy Brooke, Ian Harwood and Jonty Collard demonstrated how it’s done, with insane speeds right out the gate, making the most of the coastal air performance during the practice sessions.

Friday Practice

More riders had arrived at the East London track on the Friday, with the aim of getting their Kawasaki’s setup absolutely perfect ahead of qualifying and the two sprint races on the Saturday. The early morning weather threw a nasty spanner in the works with that grey, miserable, coastal drizzle setting-in just enough to keep the surface slick and the grip dicey. But, as the day went on the weather slowly started to clear allowing for more and more horsepower to be applied. Rob Morf was definitely one of the riders that took advantage of the drying conditions setting great pace in the practice, before his session was cut short due to battery issues which sent him straight into Potters run off and almost up to the Pick ‘n Pay. Sifiso Themba and Ian Harwood could be found throughout the day, battling it out on track and gaining in their lap time with every session.

Race day finally arrived and the weather definitely came to the party with glorious sunshine gleaming across the circuit.

Qualifying

At 08:34 the Eastern Cape came alive with the sound of horsepower as 19 Kawasaki 1000cc superbikes fired out of pit lane and down the main straight at some serious pace. The ‘puddle’ in the complex was a permanent fixture on track for the weekend and ensured the field took the corners a little gingerly in the early stages especially on the freshly fitted Bridgestones. A few laps into the session and it was all to play for, as the times started to tumble at a rapid rate. Graeme van Breda drew a line in the sand early with a seriously hot lap time of 1:22.936. Gareth Bezuidenhout was riding the wheels of his ZX10 but was unable to drop his times under the 1:23 mark, securing him a front row start on the grid with his arch rival Jaco Gous on the number 43 completing the top three. Kyle Robinson was fourth quickest on a welcome return back to racing after a long absence away from the series. Rob Morf made good ground climbing quickly up the qualifying sheet in the closing stages of the session until that tricky damp patch reared its ugly head and got the #55 bike out of shape, sending Morf onto the grass at Beacon corner. Unfortunately Morf’s off-road skills were no match for the sodden grass, ending his fast lap just before the chequered flag came out. Despite the unfortunate detour, Rob was able to qualify in 10th position but had his work cut out for him to get the bike race ready before the first heat. Jonty Collard also suffered some misfortune during qualifying when a stone pierced his radiator. Further down the grid Gareth Jackson and I had managed to find a bit of time in the session in the battle of the newbies and qualified in 15th and 16th position.

Race 1

Just before noon 19 Kawasakis lined up on the Prince George Circuit in anticipation.

Lights On…..Lights Off….

The race was ON! The first three corners resembled the Anaconda ride at Gold Reef City as the ZX10 pilots all looked to maximize the slip stream before making their attack through the complex section. As the field entered the complex section Kyle Robinson and Rob Morf both headed through the grass, as there was just not enough asphalt to accommodate all the motorcycles gliding their way through the bends of the Border Circuit. Rob Morf was unable to rejoin the race due to the after effects of his crash in qualifying being a little more serious than initially thought. Robinson did rejoin and had a lot of work ahead of him to make up for the time lost during his off-road excursion. Van Breda led the field in the early stages ahead of Jaco Gous and Gareth Bezuidenhout. Jonty Collard had Teddy Brooke for company as the two went at it tooth-and-nail ahead of Dale Niewenhuys and Pieter De Vos. On lap two, Abrie Marais disappeared from the field with what seemed to be technical issues, whilst Henk Schuiling followed suite two laps later, as his fuel pump waved the white flag on proceedings. Michael Smit also seemed to have problems but kept circulating with the aim of collecting as many championship points as possible. Back upfront Van Breda managed to pull away from the chasing Gous and Bezuidenhout and kept a comfortable gap right down to the chequered flag. Collard managed to hold off Brooke over the line and Robinson took a hard earned sixth place after his first lap mishap. Dale Niewenhuys had an impressive ride and brought it home just ahead of Pieter De Vos whilst Wayne Spicer got the upper hand against Themba and Harwood which was definitely the battle to watch on track over the 10 laps.

Race 2

At just on two thirty the ZX10 paddock came alive with the sound of horsepower yet again. 18 1000cc superbikes shot down the main straight of the East London circuit refueled, reloaded and ready for action.

Lights On…. Lights Off….

There might have been a bit of creeping on the grid but 18 bikes were off in a flash. Weekend favourite Van Breda didn’t get off the line well and was swallowed up by the field into the first corner. Gareth Bezuidenhout led the field into the complex section with Teddy Brooke and Jaco Gous hot on his heels. Jonty Collard was in fourth place with Van Breda all the way down in fifth with quite a bit work to do. With the event being an all bike day the track conditions just seemed to improve as the day went on and the pace was really hot in the early stages. Gareth Bezuidenhout led the 18 strong field over the line for the close of lap one and looked determined to dethrone Van Breda. Teddy Brooke was up in to second place after a magic start ahead of Gous. Further down the field Ian Harwood and Sifiso Themba were going at it hammer and tongs yet again with Henk Schuiling sitting in their slip stream looking to pounce at any given opportunity. Henk Schuiling managed to swop his fuel tank with Rob Morf between races as Morf was unable to get his bike ready in time for the second heat (an example of the amazing comradery between the riders in this series). Back on track, the front three had managed to break away from the chasing pack and it wasn’t long until Jaco Gous managed to slip his Kawi passed Bezuidenhout. Unfortunately the block pass completely killed Bezuidenhout’s drive onto the main straight which allowed Van Breda through into turn one. Gous defended well through the Complex but unfortunately could not defend through the hair raising Potter’s corner which eventually saw Van Breda get through and take the chequered flag for another race win. Jaco Gous took a hard and well-earned second place ahead of Gareth Bezuidenhout. Jonty Collard finished in fourth place, ahead of Teddy Brooke. Dale Niewenhuys just missed out on the top five but was still able to take home the ‘Rider of the Day’ title after showing blistering pace all weekend.

There were some solid rides further down the field by Wayne Spicer and Pieter De Vos as well as Kyle Robinson who really pushed hard for their top ten finishes. Gareth Jackson left it all out on track with a last lap move to mug JB Schoeman for 13th position on track.

Overall Results

Class A

1. Jaco Gous
2. Gareth Bezuidenhout
3. Jonty Collard
4. Dale Niewenhuys
5. Kyle Robinson
6. Sifiso Themba
7. Gareth Jackson
8. Abrie Marais
9. Clifford Ogle
10. Michael Smit

Class B

1. Graeme Van Breda
2. Wayne Spicer
3. Ian Harwood

Class C

1. Teddy Brooke
2. Pieter De Vos
3. Carl Richback
4. JB Schoeman
5. Henk Schuiling

Another nail-biting weekend came to an end down in the Buffalo City and it was time to cage the beasts and send them back up to highveld as the magnificent Kyalami beckons for the fourth round of the Red Square ZX10 Masters Cup on the 1st of June. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Big thanks to Eric (basswolf007), Paul Bedford and Gillian Herold for bringing my story to life!

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Bud Racing, the champion builders

Since they created the Bud Racing Team in 1995 Stephane and Sébastien Dasse have always been partners with Kawasaki, supporting young talent for more than two decades. What do Marvin Musquin, Gautier Paulin, Dylan Ferrandis and Brian Moreau each have in common? Easy! They all started their professional career with the Bud Racing Team, one […]

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Since they created the Bud Racing Team in 1995 Stephane and Sébastien Dasse have always been partners with Kawasaki, supporting young talent for more than two decades.

What do Marvin Musquin, Gautier Paulin, Dylan Ferrandis and Brian Moreau each have in common? Easy! They all started their professional career with the Bud Racing Team, one of the most famous team structures in the GP paddock which is back in the MX2 GPs this season after several campaigns in the European Championship.

For Stephane Dasse who now runs the team alone after the tragic death of this brother last year, the time was ripe to return to the GPs with French hopeful Brian Moreau. “After his 125 European title two years ago and one season in the European 250 it was time for Brian to race GPs, and that’s why we decided to return to the GPs even if financially it’s much more expensive for a team. We have some support from the promoter, but hopefully Kawasaki believes in our programme and has been able to give us some extra support. We’re really thankful to them, and we hope we can celebrate some podium with them soon,” explained Stephane who didn’t get the results he expected during the early rounds of the series. “For sure we were expecting better results but it’s still early in the season, there’s a lot more races to come and Portugal was a step forward for us. Brian got injured at the first GP of the season and he had to take a break from training for one month, and we must not forget that he’s the youngest rider of the class, only seventeen. From the very start we knew that this would be a learning year for him and he needs time to find his markers.”

The main reason that the team has always been racing the European series is because they work with young riders. It’s a team choice, and for Stephane there’s no reason to change this strategy in the future. “We had some top riders racing with us in the past, like Paulin or Vuillemin, but we get much more satisfaction to build fresh talent from their formative years, trying to teach them the job as they advance from the amateur to the pro level. We like that, and we have a good structure to do that with the workshop, the tracks, the trainer and everything which they need to learn. It’s really interesting, and when the results are coming that’s even more exciting for me,” he reckons, knowing that his job is not only during the race weekends but also all week long. “For sure we have to be like a father sometimes, as they don’t have a driving licence and spend a lot of time in the apartment near the workshop; they don’t even know how to cook their food when they join us. Sometimes we also have to take care of their education even if we are not the parents; I have two young daughters who are the same age as Brian so we know how it is,” he says with a big smile on his face!

Building champions is one thing, keeping them when they start to be successful is another, but Stephane has no regrets at all and derives great satisfaction when he can see improvements in the future. “It has always been interesting to do what we do; we’re proud to have been able to help riders such as Marvin Musquin or Dylan Ferrandis when they were youngsters; we retain a great relationship with them and we also hope to bring Brian to the top. In the past we lost our riders when they started to achieve success on the international stage but we are working more and more with Kawasaki to try to keep them in the future. Brian started on a KX85 and has been with us for six years now; for sure the common goal with Kawasaki is to keep him Green. Our Bud Racing KX250F bike is already very good and we know that we have really good products in the pipeline for our young riders,” continued Stephane, who is also working with younger riders in the youth classes. “At Bud we like to work on the development of the bikes, and we like to work on 65 or 85 bikes because even small refinements can make such a difference. We have always followed this way and we have always supported very young riders; in the wake of Brian we are helping Quentin Prugnières who is leading the 85cc French championship, and also Daniela Garcia who is the fastest young girl in Europe. We want to bring them to the top also.”

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Double win for Courtney Duncan in Portugal

Courtney Duncan had a perfect weekend in the second round of the FIM World Women’s Motocross Championship at Agueda in Portugal to score a double win and take over the red plate of the series leader. Fresh from her first moto win on Saturday the Bike It DRT Kawasaki Kiwi girl emerged from the first […]

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Courtney Duncan had a perfect weekend in the second round of the FIM World Women’s Motocross Championship at Agueda in Portugal to score a double win and take over the red plate of the series leader.

Fresh from her first moto win on Saturday the Bike It DRT Kawasaki Kiwi girl emerged from the first turn in race two on Sunday morning in third place but made a quick pass for second and was content to patiently weigh up a move on the leader. Taking the lead on lap two she immediately moved away from her closest chaser at more than three seconds a lap to eventually take the chequered flag at the end of the twenty-minute-plus-two-lap race with an advantage of more than thirty seconds to clinch her eighth career GP victory. The fifty point haul for the double race victory has taken Courtney to the head of the championship table with a four point advantage over second place as the series takes a nine week break before the next round at Loket in the Czech Republic on July 27/28.

Courtney Duncan:  “I was really happy with the weekend; the goal was to put two solid races together and I did that.  I got blocked in at the first turn in that second race, but I didn’t panic, sorted out a good place to make a clean pass and could race away. I’m just taking it race by race at the moment and not really thinking about the championship, but I’m stoked to get the double win and take the red plate to the next round. We’ve got a nine week break now, so I’ll be going back to New Zealand to keep doing the work and come out swinging at Loket.”

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NEW BURGMAN 125 (UB125)

Suzuki South Africa is proud to announce the arrival of the Burgman 125 (UB125) Available now at your nearest authorised Suzuki Dealership. Recommended Retail Price of R19 800.00 Including VAT.  …

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Suzuki South Africa is proud to announce the arrival of the Burgman 125 (UB125) Available now at your nearest authorised Suzuki Dealership. Recommended Retail Price of R19 800.00 Including VAT.  ...

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Rea Doubles Up Before Rain Stops Play

Jonathan Rea added to his Saturday race win with another decisive victory in the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole race today. Leon Haslam battled hard once again and was sixth. Persistent heavy rain caused the cancellation of all further track action after the WorldSSP race had been completed, hence the scheduled final Imola WorldSBK race did not take […]

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Jonathan Rea added to his Saturday race win with another decisive victory in the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole race today. Leon Haslam battled hard once again and was sixth. Persistent heavy rain caused the cancellation of all further track action after the WorldSSP race had been completed, hence the scheduled final Imola WorldSBK race did not take place.

The Autodromo Nazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola provided another race winning chance for four times champion Rea, but only one opportunity, due to the decision to stop all further track action after the weather conditions turned.

Rea took his chance to win on Sunday in both hands and finished 2.141 seconds ahead of Chaz Davies. He led across the line every lap, as he had done on Saturday, and took his tally of WorldSBK race wins at Imola to nine.

After his breakthrough win on Saturday, Rea’s victory today also netted him more points and he reduced the previous advantage of championship leader Alvaro Bautista, who finished third in the Superpole race.

Haslam found some of the same issues today that he had under braking on Saturday, but worked hard to finish sixth and score more championship points.

In the championship standings Jonathan, in second place overall, has reduced the championship lead to 43 points. Leon is fifth and has a total of 108 points after five rounds.

The Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto in Spain will be the venue for the next round of the championship, between 7 and 9 June, but first there will be a two-day test at Misano, between 29 and 30 May.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was a really positive weekend, to get my feeling with the bike here and be able to really get the maximum out of it. To pick up two race wins makes me really happy. I want to thank all the team for always believing and keeping on pushing. We never stopped believing that this weekend was a perfect opportunity for the chance to win. With our form here in the past, the way our bike works here and the way I ride – it was our chance. So we had to take it and I did, in both races. That was positive but unfortunately race three was cancelled because of the weather which came in. I completely understand and I am sure we will get our chance again.”

Leon Haslam, stated: “I had exactly the same problem as in race one. I could not pass, could not follow the guys. When I had a gap I could go really fast. Compared to Jonathan we are losing under braking but on a positive note, in cornering, in the exits, and how I adapted my style in other areas, we made good steps. Jonathan is very good here and I knew it was going to be a tough weekend trying to adapt my style with the things I have struggled with, but it was a lot harder than I expected. We will take a fifth and a sixth.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was again the top Independent team rider, scoring seventh place today in the ten-lap race. He is now eighth in the championship, mostly thanks to his Saturday race podium finish at Imola. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 11th today, putting him in overall 11th place. Hector Barbera (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 14th in the Superpole race, and is now 21st in the championship rankings after two rounds.

2019 KRT Rider WorldSBK Statistics

Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2019: Races 13, Wins 2, Podiums 13, Superpoles 1
Career Race Wins: 73 (58 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 147 (105 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 17 (13 for Kawasaki)

Leon Haslam:
2019: Races: 13, Wins 0, Podiums 2, Superpoles 0
Career Race Wins: 5 (0 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 41 (3 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 3 (0 for Kawasaki)

6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Tom Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)

Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 129 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 396 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 82 – second overall

#NinjaSpirit

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