Ultra-close competition, brilliant spectacle and gut-wrenching bravery typified Rounds 7 and 8 of this year’s South African Superbike Racing Championship at the East London Grand Prix circuit on Saturday (May 24). The national title lead changed hands in the process, while a huge Eastern Cape crowd was royally entertained. The two-wheeler brigade gave notice of things to come during Saturday morning’s Official Qualifying session, which saw the times of the top nine riders covered by less than a second. At the start of the opening race pole-sitter Shaun Whyte (First Technology Yamaha) charged into the lead, closely followed by Arushen Moodley (First Technology Yamaha), Russell Wood (Autopage Cellular Yamaha) plus Cell C Suzuki riders Trevor Crookes and Stewart MacLeod. The First Technology team’s glory was short-lived - halfway around the opening lap both Whyte and Moodley hit oil while braking for the Cocabana corner and they crashed in unison. That left Wood and Crookes to fight for the lead, with MacLeod, Gavin Ramsay (Kreepy Krauly Yamaha), Greg Dreyer (Autopage Cellular Yamaha) and Hudson Kennaugh (Cell C Suzuki) in close attendance. Wood and Crookes swapped the lead three times during the next six laps, while a hard-charging Kennaugh took his Suzuki into third place behind them. It all came to a head in the very last corner of the race, with Crookes and Wood trying desperately to beat each other into the pit straight. As they fought for the corner’s inside line, Hudson Kennaugh dived past both of them on the outside, to snatch the lead in a manoeuvre that will long be remembered. Kennaugh hung on to win for Cell C Suzuki, with Wood’s Yamaha second and Crookes’ Suzuki third - all covered by less than half a second at the finish line. Stewart MacLeod passed the flag fourth on his Suzuki, ahead of Gavin Ramsay’s Kreepy Krauly Yamaha, Greg Dreyer’s Autopage Cellular Yamaha plus the Kawasakis of Greame Van Breda and Sheridan Morias. The second race was a fraught affair, with Kennaugh, Wood and Crookes waging a three-sided war at the front throughout the ten laps. All three riders led, with Wood finally winning from Crookes by two-tenths of a second, and Kennaugh three-tenths of a second further adrift. MacLeod again finished fourth. He was narrowly ahead of a heroic Arushen Moodley, who scythed through the field from the back of the grid for fifth place on his First Technology Yamaha. The respective sixth-, seventh- and eighth places went to Greg Dreyer, Gavin Ramsay and Shaun Whyte on his first Technology Yamaha. Following a post-race inspection, the event stewards excluded MacLeod’s Suzuki from the day’s results for a technical infringement. The day’s results left Russell Wood in the Championship lead on 126 points, versus the 99 of Shaun Whyte, Hudson Kennaugh’s 98, Trevor Crookes’ 78, and Arushen Moodley’s 75.
Original article from Car