The Autopage Cellular Yamaha team is back on the top rung of local Superbike racing, following the season’s two fastest races at the East London Grand Prix circuit last Saturday (May 24). The occasions were rounds 7 and 8 of the 2003 South African Superbike Racing Championship. With the East London circuit doubtlessly South Africa’s most daunting race circuit, it yet again brought out the best in the country’s top two-wheeler speed exponents. Following Saturday mornings Official Qualifying session, the times of the top nine riders were covered by less than a second. Autopage Cellular Yamaha team captain Russell Wood shared the front row of the grid with the First Technology Yamaha equipe’s Shaun Whyte and Arushen Moodley, plus Cell C Suzuki racer Trevor Crookes. At the start of the opening race Whyte and Moodley charged into the first two places, with Wood and Crookes in close attendance. Drama struck halfway around the lap - braking for the Cocabana Corner at the end of the main straight, both Whyte and Moodley hit a streak of oil, and they crashed in unison. After that Wood and Crookes fought tooth and nail for the lead, with Cell C Suzuki youngster Hudson Kennaugh right behind them. Matters were settled in the very last corner of the race. Wood and Crookes desperately tried to beat each other into the pit straight and stuck to the corner’s inside line, which allowed Kennaugh to pass them both on the outside of the bend. Kennaugh hung on to win from Wood and Crookes, with the three riders covered by four-tenths of a second over the finish line. “I knew that I had to block Crookes on the inside, but that left the outside, quicker line open to Kennaugh. He was extremely brave to pass us both on the outside, and deserved to win,” Wood said afterwards. The second race saw Wood, Crookes and Kennaugh all take turns in the lead, tackling the 230-km/h Potters Pass sweep side by side on various occasions. At the end of the day, Wood led when it mattered - crossing the finish line two-tenths of a second in front of Crookes, with Kennaugh another three-tenths adrift. The results saw Wood regain the overall lead in this year’s most prestigious South African two-wheeler racing Championship. Meanwhile, Autopage Cellular Yamaha’s still-injured Greg Dreyer rode two steady races, scoring fifth-place Championship points on both occasions. Fighting in the midfield, the team youngster Charles Grassie managed a 13th and 16th place on the day. “It feels good to top the points ladder again, but without the mistake by First Technology Yamaha’s Shaun Whyte it would have been a lot harder. I can not afford to depend on other riders’ mistakes to fight for the title - from here on, every point will be desperately fought for,” Wood said after the meeting. The next round of this year’s South African Superbike Championship will take place at AA Kyalami on Saturday, June 26.

Original article from Car