Don’t ask me what took so long because the answer is, I have no idea? This past week I stumbled across our National Motorcycle Championship. I was scrolling through channels on TV and found the highlights on Ignition TV, so I thought I would give it a watch and see what I was missing. I was absolutely blown away!
I could not actually believe what I was watching, I was glued to the action, it was some of the best racing I have ever seen. Unfortunately, they were just highlights. I wish I could have seen the race live, start to finish, but I plan on doing just that at the next round at Red Star Raceway. However, I needed more and sooner rather than later. I have been so fixed on just MotoGP and WSBK that I never took the time to consider what has been going on in our national championships. It really is such a pity that I have been missing out on this action for so long, but then again, in a way it’s great because I get to discover everything for the first time again, learn about the different riders, tracks and so much more.
I decided to start this ‘new’ journey by heading down to Red Star Raceway and catch the 8 hour endurance action. RideFast magazine, the magazine in which I got articles published recently, don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging, it’s just something I never thought I would get done so I am extremely happy that I can say that happened. As I was saying though, RideFast had a bike competing in the race. I was particularly interested to see how they got along. They have a beautiful 2016 Kawasaki ZX10R that they have been working on for awhile, their project bike, as they call it. It’s a gorgeous machine.
I got to the track bright and early as I wanted to catch the vibe around the start of the race. I got there early enough to see qualifying, which was a nice bonus. RideFast qualifying in a solid ninth place with twenty-four bikes on the grid, and not pushing too hard remembering they did have an 8 hour race ahead of them. The start, as it is in any race, was exciting. There is always that tension at the start, even if you have 8 hours of racing ahead. Getting a good start is a good way to settle the nerves. The team in Pole position got of to a disastrous start while RideFast got a off to a flyer and were out near the front going in to the second corner. From there it would be a long slog, 8 hours of tough riding ahead. Tactics are key in this form of racing and it’s a tough balance, pushing for position and good time while thinking of tyres, energy and all the other factors that play a part in an endurance race.
Each rider taking part in the endurance part of the race, which was any team with one bike and multiple riders, would have a 45 minute stint on the bike at a time, going over the 45 minutes would lead to a penalty. The other part of the race was the relay, where a team had multiple riders all on their own bike. A few of the National Championship riders entered the relay race in order to get some “unofficial” testing at the track ahead of the next round of the SuperGP, which will be held at Red Star. Watching some of those guys go around the track was just amazing. At the end of the pit straight, Steven Odendaal, who is also doing South Africa proud overseas in the European Moto2 championship, was going sideways into the first corner and absolutely flying around the track! It is great to watch a rider who is at an international level still riding in the national scene, setting the standards and pushing our national racing to the next level. Did I forget to mention he is leading the European Moto2 championship? All the while still holding on to second in the SuperGP, Super600 Championship. We may soon be seeing more South African’s in MotoGP.
There were a few top names taking part in the race and that made for awesome racing, not only that but I can only imagine what an experience it must have been for the amateur riders to share the track with these guys. Back to the race itself and the ZX10R of RideFast was going well. I must add, it made a beautiful sound down the start, finish straight.
They were looking really smooth and that resulted in a second place finish in the endurance class, RSR Stars taking first. The relay and overall winners were team Juveniles.
All in all it was a great day out, a taste, for me, of what is to come. Red Star Raceway is by no means the high class facility when compared to the newly renovated Kaylami, but it’s what it needs to be. It’s a race track, and from what I could tell, a really enjoyable one. The feel of the place was great. You really feel like you are a part of what is going on, you are right in the thick of the action, on top of pit lane, and that adds a certain charm. I can’t wait to go back, and I will be soon as I make my way to the National Championship, SuperGP races on the 30th of July.
I look forward to learning more about our local racing scene. Then I can comment more on what’s going on. For now I’m going to enjoy the ride and soak up all I can. It seems that our local racing scene is growing. This years endurance race apparently double in size to previous times. I think there is a growing interest of late with a number of South African riders making a name for themselves out on the international circuit. I for one only hope that this interest keeps growing and that more of our talented riders are noticed on an international level. I would also really love it if the interest could grow to a point where the races are televised live so that we can all enjoy the action through out the season and get to know our national championship as well as the riders and teams involved. Until then I will do my best to get out to the races and learn more as I go.
This is my word on the South African national motorcycle racing scene…so far.