Almost five months ago Clint Seller (King Price Xtreme Yamaha R1) won both heats at the second round of the 2020 NGK Spark Plugs SA Superbike championship. The series, which is supported by Bridgestone, returned after the Covid-19 lockdown on 8 August and Seller didn’t let the break worry him. He continued where he left off back in March, taking another two wins to take a slender, 2-point lead at the top of the championship standings. In both races, he was followed over the line by Garrick Vlok (DCCS Coring, Cutting and Sealing Yamaha R1) and David McFadden (RPM Center/Stunt SA Yamaha R1). In the SuperSport 600 class, Jared Schultz (ASAP World Yamaha R6) took both heats from Ricardo Otto (Otto Racing Yamaha R6).
The first of Friday’s three qualifying sessions came to a premature end when Blaze Baker lost the front of his JBR/Rapid Bike Kawasaki ZX10R through turn one, giving himself a concussion and bringing his race weekend to an early halt. He wasn’t the only one to miss the weekend’s racing. Dino Iozzo (King Price Extreme Yamaha R6) broke his collar bone in a training accident on the Wednesday before the event and a day later Brett Roberts (Lights by Linea Yamaha R6) had a massive high-side through turn 7 at Zwartkops, destroying his bike and concussing himself. Conditions were not ideal in the first session – it was cold with a gusting wind – but Seller put down the early marker, eight tenths quicker than Vlok with Damion Purificati (Andalaft Racing BMW S1000RR), the first of the Bridgestone Superbike brigade, in third. Otto was the quickest of the 600s.
It was a little warmer in the second session, but conditions were still not ideal. A collision between Seller and Schultz brought out the red flag to allow the marshals and medical crew to do their jobs. Luckily both riders were not injured although their crews had a lot of work to do to get their bikes repaired in time for race day. At the end of the session, Vlok was quickest with Purificati second and Seller third. Otto again led the way in the 600s.
In the final qualifying session, Vlok set his quickest time of the day to claim pole position from McFadden with Purificati joining them on the front row of the grid. Dian Nelson (TRD Motorcycles Kawasaki ZX10R), who was having his first outing in national SuperBike class, headed the second row with Seller alongside him in fifth. 2018 champion Michael White and his crew spent most of the day tracing an electrical problem that prevented his Dent Carpets Yamaha R1 revving beyond 2000 RPM. They solved the problem shortly before the final session and he was able to do enough to claim sixth on the grid. Otto’s time in the final session was good enough to give him seventh place on the grid as the leading 600 bike with Luca Bertolini (Izinga Worx/Willcom Racing Yamaha R1), the second of the Bridgestone Superbikes, in eighth. The only lady rider in the field, Nicole van Aswegen (Gem Auto/Andalaft Racing Ducati 1299) completed the third row of the grid. Schultz’ second session time set before his crash was good enough for tenth with Hein McMahon (BDJ Freight BMW S1000RR) and Brian Bontekoning (Jaguar Power Products Ducati) rounding out the top twelve.
After the hard work by his crew to get his bike back on the grid after Friday’s accident, Seller thanked them in the best way possible, charging off the line in the opening race. He was up to second by the end of the first lap and half a lap later took the lead. Vlok didn’t let him get away but, despite a few attempts, couldn’t find a way past, eventually having to settle for second just under four-tenths behind the defending champion. McFadden, who was still getting to grips with some of the new parts on his bike, had a lonely ride to third ahead of a great dice between White and Purificati which eventually went the way of White by a couple of bike lengths. Otto was the early leader in the 600s, but Schultz worked his way past on the third lap. The Capetonian took the class win and sixth overall ahead of Bertolini with Otto in eighth. McMahon was next up ahead of Bontekoning who won the battle of the Ducatis, leading van Aswegen across the line by just three-tenths of a second. Nasief Wadvalla (Fast Bike Racing Yamaha R1) finished in twelfth. Ian Thomas (SA Compressor Hire Kawasaki ZX10R) spent the early part of the race in a scrap with Sifiso Themba (King Price Extreme Kawasaki ZX10R) but was able to find a way through just after half distance. He was then able to open a gap and ended in thirteenth. A first lap incident spoilt Nelson’s fourth place on the grid and he dropped to the back of the field, eventually coming home in fifteenth.
When the lights went out to signal the start of the second race, it was McFadden that reacted quickest, grabbing the hole-shot to lead the way from Seller and Vlok. Purificati lost the front at turn five on the opening lap, dropping him to the back of the field and leaving Nelson, White and Bertolini to fight for fourth. Up front, Seller was looking for a way past McFadden. He got a move to stick on lap five and was able to pull away to take a comfortable win. A couple of laps later, Vlok got past McFadden to move into second, where he stayed until the finish. Once White got past Nelson he was able to open a slight gap, which he held until the flag. Nelson ended in fifth ahead of Bertolini, the leading rider in the Bridgestone Superbikes, with Schultz, again the leading 600, in seventh. McMahon went one better than he did in the opening race, taking eighth ahead of Bontekoning who had Wadvalla and Van Aswegen in his wheel tracks. Otto had to settle for twelfth ahead of a recovering Purificati with Thomas again getting the better of Themba.
In the day’s overall standings, Seller took the national NGK Spark Plugs SuperBike class from Vlok and McFadden. Two wins gave Schultz the overall SuperSport 600 win ahead of Otto while Bertolini took the Bridgestone SuperBike win from McMahon and Bontekoning.
The next round of the NGK SA Superbike series is scheduled to take place at Red Star Raceway in September although, with the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, this could be changed.
Published by NGK SA Superbikes
Picture Caption: Clint Seller leads Garrick Vlok
Photography by: Paul Bedford