Greg Gildenhuys wrapped up his and BMW Motorrad’s third consecutive South African Superbike Championship in style at the penultimate round in Cape Town on Saturday, September 22. The 23-year-old from Boskruin near Johannesburg rode his BMW S1000RR to victory in both races, beating off a determined challenge from Nic Grobler, who was also on an RR.
Gildenhuys was quickest in qualifying for the second round in a row, but Grobler led race one for the first three laps before the champion took control and went on to win the 10-lapper by just 0.05 sec. Chris Leeson was a distant third on a Ducati (8.5 seconds behind Grobler) while BMW privateers Trevor Westman and Ryan Ottens finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Gildenhuys started from second on the grid in race two alongside pole-sitter Grobler and led the 12-lap race for the first three laps. Grobler, who was later penalized 30 seconds for a jump start, took over the lead on lap four. The two riders put on another great show for the fans, circulating in close company as they pulled away from the rest of the field. Gildenhuys regained the upper hand on the 10th lap but Grobler, looking for a maiden Superbike win, hung on to finish in second place on the track—just three-tenths of a second behind Gildenhuys—only to be relegated to seventh.
In a strong show of force by BMW, privateers Ronald Slamet and Wustman finished third and fourth, with Ryan Ottens taking the checkered flag in sixth on his RR, ahead of Grobler.
Gildenhuys now goes to the final round at Kyalami in October with a lead of 83 points over Grobler, with a maximum of only 50 points available in the last two races of the year. A delighted Gildenhuys, who is the first rider to win three Superbike titles in South Africa, paid tribute to BMW and his team for providing him with a championship-winning bike and said his third title was just as satisfying as his first two.
“I’m stoked,” he said. “Winning the championship three times means a lot to me. It’s never been done before. Nic pushed me hard today. I was worried he’d beat me and I had to push really hard at the end.”
The triple champion, who also won back-to-back Supersport championships before moving up to Superbikes, will take extra confidence with him when he travels to Magny-Cours to compete in the final round of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup on October 7, as part of the World Superbike Championship program. He has been invited by the BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet SBK team to stand in for the injured Italian Lorenzo Baroni and will ride an RR alongside championship contender Sylvain Barrier of France, who currently leads the series by a slender three points after scoring another podium finish at Portimão in Portugal on Sunday, September 23.
“It will be an honor to represent South Africa in France,” said Greg. “I’ve raced at Magny-Cours before, when I rode for the Pedercini Superbike team in 2007, so even though we don’t get a lot of practice time before the official qualifying sessions, I’m confident I can give a good account of myself.”
The final round of the SA Superbike Championship is at Kyalami on October 27, with the final FIM Superstock 1000 Cup race taking place in France on October 7.