Five S1000RR motorcycles finished in the top seven in both races at the third round of the 2011 South African Superbike Championship series. Having enjoyed back-to-back victories at the Killarney circuit in Cape Town during round two of the 2011 series last month, it was RR rider Greg Gildenhuys who again led the way at the Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante circuit, with a second place in qualifying followed by second in race one and third in race two — giving him third overall for the day.
After dominating the last round at Killarney in Cape Town eight weeks ago, the 21-year-old from Boskruin in Gauteng was looking to add to his impressive list of 10 wins in the last 15 Superbike races since he gave the RR its maiden victory at the same venue last year. However, his winning run came to an end as he battled to overcome a tendency to make poor starts off the grid and consequently gave himself too much work to do to catch and pass the eventual double race winner for the day, Chris Leeson on a Kawasaki ZX10.
That said, Greg still managed to demonstrate his undeniable class by closing down Leeson’s lead to just two tenths of a second at the end of the first 12-lap race, after dropping to ninth at the first corner of the opening lap. His task was even bigger in race two as he slumped to 10th on the first lap after another poor start, but did well to close to within less than a second of second placed Julian Odendaal by the time the checkered flag was waved on a hot and windy autumn afternoon in South Africa.
“I’m battling to get to grips with the BMW’s launch control,” admitted Greg Gildenhuys after the day’s racing was concluded. “I can’t afford to give away nine and 10 places at the start to my rivals, particularly as riders like Chris Leeson and Sheridan Morais are proving to be so competitive on their new bikes, so we’ll be doing a lot of practice starts before the next round.”
Fortunately, Gildenhuys at least had the consolation of knowing that, in the absence of former national champion Morais for round three (with whom he was tied on 90 points after the first two rounds) he has been able to extend his championship lead over the Kawasaki rider to 36 points and 25 ahead of Chris Leeson.
Privateer BMW riders Nicolas Grobler (Jonway BMW) and James Egan (Thundersport/Ryder Motorrad BMW) shared impressive fourth and fifth places behind Leeson, Gildenhuys and Julian Odendaal in the two races, while Jonathan Willcox (Willcox Consulting BMW) and Steven Coetzer (Casamia Biscuits BMW) finished sixth and seventh on both occasions.
The next round of the South African Superbike Championship will take place on Saturday, June 4 at Phakisa.