David McFadden saved the best for last as he set the fastest time in all three qualifying sessions and then went on to take two dominant heat wins at the final round of the 2020 NGK SA Superbike championship which was held at the Aldo Scribante Racetrack on 30 & 31 October. Unfortunately, Brett Roberts crashed out of the opening heat just as he started to close the gap to the top two SuperSport 600 bringing his race weekend to a premature end.
McFadden went to Port Elizabeth on the back of a double win in the regional championship at Killarney, an event he used to test the work he had been doing with his medical team to prevent the recurrence of a nerve injury that put paid to his championship chances when he was forced to withdraw from the second race at the penultimate national round. With this problem solved and a few improvements to the Stunt SA/Lights by Linea Yamaha R1, McFadden was confident he could deliver a good result and so it proved. He was immediately quick in Friday’s qualifying sessions, making sure of pole position with a time just over half a second quicker than his closest rival. In the first heat, he was never challenged and was able to manage the gap in the second half taking victory by nearly eight seconds. He had to work a little harder to get to the front in the second heat after going wide at the final corner of the opening lap and letting Clint Seller through into the lead. He moved back to the head of the pack a couple of laps later and then opened a gap which grew to almost 10 seconds by the time the flag came out to signal his second win of the day.
Speaking about his weekend, McFadden said, “From the start of session one on Friday, I had a great feeling on the bike and could feel the improvements we had made to the mapping with the Rapid Bike system. This made the bike a lot smoother to ride I could focus on dialling the suspension in.”
“In the first race, I managed to holeshot and led from start to end. I pushed for the first five laps until I got a big enough gap, then just rode to manage the gap eventually winning by 7.8 seconds.”
“In race 2, the plan was the same. I got the holeshot and lead the first lap until the last corner where a small mistake led to me running wide and allowing Clint Seller through. I followed him for a few laps then made a pass and pulled a gap of 9.6 seconds. The perfect weekend. I was the only rider to lap in the 60s laps during qualifying, race 1 and race 2.”
“2020 has been a mixed-up year. I started the year with a double win and ended the season with a perfect weekend, pole position and a double win with some tough weekends in between. I look forward to working hard in the offseason to start 2021 off strong. I can’t thank everyone that has been behind me the last few weeks keeping me motivated to never give up on the dream. All the non-stop work with specialists to solve the issue and work to fix it has paid off. I also need to thank all the sponsors for their help and support. Without them, it would not be possible. Roll on 2021.”
Unfortunately for Roberts, his weekend didn’t go as well as McFadden’s. He was on the pace in the qualifying sessions, lining up third on the grid with a lap time less than half a second away from the second-placed rider. A poor start dropped him down the field but he made his way back through and was just starting to close the gap to second when he lost the front through the high-speed Hangar corner. While Roberts emerged largely unscathed, the same cannot be said for his Lights by Linea Yamaha R6 and he race weekend was over.
Commenting on the youngster’s final outing in his first season on a SuperSport 600 bike, team principal McFadden said, “Overall I was really impressed with Brett Roberts’ pace this weekend. All of Friday he worked well on race pace and developing a great race rhythm. We had a good feeling for a strong result, unfortunately, he crashed out of race 1 destroying the bike. Looking at the positives for his first-ever race at Port Elizabeth lapping with a 1.02.2 is extremely impressive. During the offseason we will work hard to have him in a stronger position for 2021.”
Published by: RPM Center
Picture Caption: David McFadden on his way to victory in the second heat
Photography by: Paul Bedford