Steven Odendaal couldn’t stay away from racing while the Moto2 series was on its summer break, so he dusted off his trusty Yamaha R1 and joined the SA Superbike series at Zwarkops Raceway for the Liqui Moly Fifth Round on 26 & 27 July 2019. While Yamaha is very different to the NTS he rides for the RW Racing Team on the world stage, he didn’t have any trouble adapting and went on to take two wins on Saturday after claiming pole position on Friday.
In the SuperSport 600 category, reigning champion Blaze Baker powered his Performance Technologies/The Rossi Sports Bar Yamaha R6 to victory in both heats.
Clint Seller (King Price Xtreme Yamaha R1) led the qualifying standings going into the final session but he could not improve his time in the final 25-minute session. Both Odendaal and Lance Isaacs (SuperBets Gaming Group BMW S1000RR) were, however, able to improve their times with Odendaal taking pole position by 0.148” from Isaacs. Seller had to settle for third. David McFadden (RPM Centre/Stunt SA Yamaha R1) was a tenth behind Seller in fourth with Garrick Vlok (DCCS Coring Yamaha R6) and Dylan Barnard (Barnard Racing Yamaha R1) rounding out the top six.
Odendaal took the holeshot when the lights went out in the first race, leading a group of four that pulled a gap on the chasing pack. He had Isaacs, Seller and McFadden in his wheel tracks until the brakes on MdFadden’s Yamaha failed and he was forced to retire. Shortly after half-distance, Odendaal put in the two quickest laps of the race to open a gap that, although not comfortable, gave him just a little bit of breathing room. He took the win by just over a second from Isaacs with Seller another second further back. Vlok hade a somewhat lonely race to fourth. Byron Bester (Hi-Tech Racing Yamaha R1) and Morne Geldenhuis (Race Craft/NCA Plant Hire Yamaha R1) were involved in a tussle for fifth until Geldenhuis crashed out, leaving the place to Bester. Barnard crossed the line in sixth.
The second race was almost a repeat of the first, with Odendaal leading the way except this time Seller led Isaacs and McFadden. Although the Cape Town-based rider had changed almost his entire braking system between races, the problem that ended his first race recurred and his race came to a premature end. Odendaal had the measure of his rivals and dipped below the 61-second mark around the 2.4km Zwartkops circuit on his way to victory. Seller kept Isaacs at by to take second with Vlok in fourth. Bester and Barnard rounded out the top six.
Odendaal topped the day’s overall standings, with Seller and Isaacs joining him on the podium.
Baker topped the standings in all three of Friday’s qualifying sessions, taking pole position from Kewyn Snyman (Hillbilly Racing Team/CGR Yamaha R6). Jared Schultz (ASAP World/FFC/Brown Property Yamaha R6) saved his best for last, setting his quickest time of the day on his final lap in Qualifying 3 to take third ahead of Dino Iozzo (King Price Xtreme Yamaha R6). Dian Nelson (TRD Motorcycles Yamaha R6) and Taric van der Merwe (Hi-Tech Racing Yamaha R6) completed the second row of the grid.
Snyman was the early leading in the opening race. He was able to hold off Baker until about one-third distance but, once Baker got past, he was able to control things from the front and took the win by almost three seconds. Behind the leading pair, Schultz was joined by Iozzo and they spent the next couple of laps fighting for the final podium position. Iozzo got past with four laps to go and was able to keep Schultz behind him until the flag. Nelson and van der Merwe ended in fifth and sixth.
A better start by Baker in the second heat saw him take a lights-to-flag victory, again chased hard by Snyman. Schultz and Iozzo resumed their Race 1 battle for third, with Schultz again leading in the early stages, but Iozzo was in front when it counted albeit by just over three-tenths of a second. Nelson and van der Merwe had an entertaining battle for fifth with Nelson just ahead at the flag.
Baker took overall victory on the day with Snyman and Iozzo in second and third respectively.
The SA SuperBike series in association with Metzler now heads back to the coast for the sixth round of the 2019 championship. The East London Grand Prix Circuit will host the riders on 30 & 31 August.