root - February 15, 2023

Dave Abrahams

The tension and drama accompanying epic contests, spectacular crashes, and memorable close finishes defied round 1 of  the 2023 Power Series presented by Wingfield Motors at Killarney International Raceway on Saturday 4 February.

Topping the bill in the Thermo Fires Clubmans Saloons were Steven Heydenrych, out for the first time in the I Marketing/FAT Racing Skyline, and ‘giant killer’ Raaziegh Harris’ Cool Touch Racing Golf 1. Harris set the bar with a 1min 21.174sec qualifying lap but was unable to maintain that pace in Race 1, as the all-black Nissan grabbed the lead from lights out and held it to the flag.

Harris hung on for the first four laps but fell back to oval-track veteran Jesse Huggett (Rico Barlow Racing/Philwest Jetta 2) in the closing stages to finish third, just ahead of Class B leader Daanyaal Coetzee (A&M Plumbing BMW E46 M3), after Shane Smith (Truckport Logistics BMW E46) charged through the field up to third with a lap to go and then went out on the last lap.

Race 2 was red-flagged seconds after the start when Ewald Weiland (Alfa Romeo GTV) spun in Turn 1, right in front of Bruce Meyer’s Cape Industrial Flooring Polo. The resulting collision opened the side of the Alfa like a tin can and and double-flipped the Polo onto its roof. Both drivers were lucky to walk away unhurt.

Heydenrych led from the restart, controlling the race from the front while Harris held off both Huggett and a hard-charging Craig Rapp (BMW 328) until three laps from the flag, when Rapp powered through to take second very briefly, and Harris went out. Huggett, always a threat at the death, demoted Rapp to third a lap later and it was all over bar the shouting.

Defending champion Jurie ‘Umpie’ Swart (Bullion IT Polo 6) dominated both Alert Engine Parts GTi Challenge races despite an unexpected and very determined challenge from up-country rival Clinton Bezuidenhout (Volkswagen Polo) in his first GTi Challenge outing, who just got the better of Nathan Victor (Summit Racing Polo) for second place in Race 1. Zaki Hendricks (Volkswagen Polo 6R) was the Class B leader in fourth overall, while Matthew Rowe (Veldt Reared Golf 1) led the Class C ‘brat pack’ home.

Swart pulled steadily away from the field in Race 2 to win by 6.4 seconds from Bezuidenhout, with Schalk Geldenhuys third after Victor went out on lap two. Kyle Visser (Charl Engineering Polo) stole Hendricks’ Class B thunder in fourth overall, while Rowe improved one place to win Class C in seventh overall.

Swedish visitor Kennet Persson in his thundering McLaren M6B and new entry to the Laude Classic Cars category Nian du Toit (Ford Capri Perana) turned the established order on its ear as they battled with Franco Donadio (Ford Escort Mk1) and Michael Hitchcock’s Cross Cape Forklift Services Mustang. They finished Race 1 in that order, within 2.051 seconds after eight superb laps.     

Du Toit’s Perana then added some extra drama to Race 2 when its oil-filter adapter let go coming out of Turn 2 on lap six. To his credit Du Toit controlled the resulting misbehaviour and got off the circuit immediately. But his race was over, leaving the door open for Donadio and Hitchcock to get really serious about second in a dice that went all the way to the flag and ended with Donadio just 2.223 seconds behind the McLaren and less than a second ahead of Hitchcock.

Even a fuel-pump failure couldn’t stop Missile Motorcycles’ Kewyn Snyman from taking the overall honours for the day in the Triumph Superbikes category on his new old bike. To clarify: although it was the first time this machine had been ridden in anger, it’s actually a ninth-generation Honda CBR1000RR dating from 2008. Snyman explained: “I’ve always liked the ’08 Fireblade for its smooth power delivery and handling, and I wanted to prepare one for regional Superbike racing – so here it is!”

And it worked. Snyman qualified on pole and led every lap of Race 1, chased all the way by defending champion Malcom Rapson on the Racebase GSX-R1000, while Hilton ‘Wild Man’ Redelinghuys (888 Motorcycles ZX-10R) and David Enticott (Motorwise/Sarum Engineering/Iron Horse Racing ZX-10R) debated third and fourth.

But the highlight of the race was the battle for sixth overall between the three ‘young guns’ of the Bridgestone STC650 series – each in his Superbike racing debut – as Slade van Niekerk (Project Sixty SA ZX-6R) blitzed Tristin Pienaar’s RS Trailers R6 on the last lap to take 600 Class honours by a scant 0.042sec, with Jason Linaker in hot pursuit on the RST CBR600.

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