The recurrence of an old injury and a crash during the first race meant that the RPM Center team left Red Star Raceway without taking as many points as they had hoped to after the fourth round of the 2020 NGK SA Superbike championship on Saturday, 26 September.
An intermittent electronic problem that the team couldn’t trace meant that David McFadden had to use his old spec Stunt SA/Lights by Linea Yamaha R1 but he was still able to qualify in fourth place and line up directly behind his main championship rival Clint Seller on the grid.
McFadden dropped to fifth at the start of the first heat but soon worked his way back up to fourth and set about closing the gap to the riders in front of him. Unfortunately, the recurrence of an old nerve injury left him with no strength in his right hand which made it difficult to apply the brakes. After running off the track as a result, he decided to stop the chase and circulate to get as many points as possible, which he did by finishing fourth in the SuperBike category.
The second race was similar to the first, in that McFadden was running in fourth chasing the leaders when the acute pain and lack of strength in his right hand returned. With his own and fellow competitors safety in mind, he decided to withdraw from the race.
Brett Roberts (Lights by Linea Yamaha R6) had never been to Red Star Raceway before Thursday and knew he had a lot to learn about the tricky 4-kilometre layout. He steadily improved his times through Friday’s qualifying sessions, ending as the third quickest of the SuperSport 600 bikes, and comfortably ahead of some of the 1000cc bikes.
Roberts was having a great dice with some of those SuperBikes in the opening race when contact between him and Nicole van Aswegen resulted in both of them crashing out of the race. Luckily, the damage to his bike was largely cosmetic and his crew were able to get it repaired in time for him to take his place on the grid for the start of the second heat. He was cautious in the opening stages but, as his confidence returned, he improved his lap times, finishing third in the SuperSport 600 class and eighth overall.
Reflecting on the day, McFadden said, “Overall not the weekend we had hoped for after coming into the weekend with high expectations. Although it took longer to get up to pace in the three qualifying sessions on Friday, we were working a lot on making sure the bike was set up for the races, not just pure single lap pace. After qualifying at the head of the second row of the grid, I knew a good start would put me in the mix. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the start I was hoping for and had to work hard to move up the field before an old nerve injury flared up and caused me to run off the track when I couldn’t brake properly. Once I got back on track I decided to just circulate and bag as many points as possible. After three or four laps of the second heat, the lack of feeling in the brake lever caused by the nerve issue caused me to run off again. This time the problem was worse than in the first heat, and I decided to retire as a matter of safety.”
“I have already spoken to my doctor and hope to have the nerve issue sorted out before the next event. This week he will be doing MRI and nerve conduction test to get to the root of the problem. If all goes according to plan, I will be back and fighting for wins at the final event.”
The next outing for the team, the final round of the 2020 NGK SA Superbike Championship, takes place at the Aldo Scribante Racetrack in Port Elizabeth on 30 & 31 October.
In addition to the sponsorship from Stunt SA and Lights by Linea, the team acknowledges the support received from RST, Nix Graphics, Arata by Racetec, Forma Boots, TBR Engineering and Schuberth Helmets.
Published by: RPM Center
Picture Caption: The recurrence of an old nerve injury hampered David McFadden’s efforts
Photography by: Paul Bedford