It was a great weekend for BMW and the S1000RR superbike at the fourth round of the South African Superbike Championship series at Zwartkops Raceway. BMW Motorrad Motorsport rider Greg Gildenhuys and privateers, Nicolas Grobler and Ryan Ottens took the top three overall positions for the day after a maiden 1-2-3 for BMW in race one and second, third and fourth in race two.
A convincing win and a close second place in race two on Saturday May 26 saw reigning South African Superbike champion Greg Gildenhuys turn a 10-point deficit into a 10-point advantage in his quest for a third successive title. The 23-year-old from Boskruin in Johannesburg now leads his closest rival, Dave McFadden (Kawasaki) by 10 points (171 to 161) with third-placed BMW privateer Nicolas Grobler on 127 points.
Gildenhuys was able to take advantage of fuel starvation problem by McFadden’s Kawasaki ZX10R which saw him pull out after the warm up lap of race one. Gildenhuys won the opening 12-lapper around the tight 2.4km Zwartkops circuit from pole position by a comfortable 5.8 seconds over Grobler with Ottens a further 0.8 sec behind in his maiden podium finish on the RR. In addition, RR riders Heinrich Rheeder, Konrad Viljoen and Etienne Nelson were fourth, fifth and sixth in the Masters category.
An exciting race two saw Gildenhuys, Grobler and McFadden (who corrected his technical issues) all lead at one time. In a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle over the last eight of 12 laps both Gildenhuys and McFadden bettered the Superbike lap record set by Sheridan Morais in November 2011, with the final honors going to McFadden beating Gildenhuys by just 0.1 sec. McFadden took full advantage of the fact that he was on new tires after sitting out the opening race.
Grobler, who has improved with every outing so far this year, finished third after leading the race on laps three and four and recording a personal best lap time in the process before his tires started to lose their grip. Ottens completed a successful weekend in fourth place. Rheeder took the honors in the Masters’ category, finishing eighth overall. Viljoen and Nelson were fourth and fifth in the Masters.
“The BMW was awesome all weekend and if it hadn’t been for the fact that Dave had such a big advantage with his new tires in race two, I’m sure we could have done even better. Forty-five points and the championship lead is a great result,” said a delighted Gildenhuys.
“This has been a great day for the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team and for the BMW privateers – our first ever race 1-2-3 and also 1-2-3 overall for the day,” said a delighted Rob Holder, General Manager BMW Motorrad South Africa. “It was a historic weekend and a trend that we’d love to continue for the rest of the racing season. We went out and showed the competition what we are truly made of and we saw some sensational racing by our BMW riders.”
The next round of the championship will be in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, on June 23.