Classic Racing

The Classic TT race South Africa

Peter McBride kicks things off for us:

Redstar raceway played host to this year’s South African Classic TT. An amazing event organised and hosted by the good people at the Classic superbike racing association, with two rounds this year, Phakisa and then Redstar Raceway. Classic motorcycle racing enthusiasts were spoiled indeed. Classic racing is rapidly gaining a following in South Africa and this event was a real testament to the success this type of racing is starting to enjoy and a credit to the people who have worked so hard to get the series to this point.

As a petrol head, it was difficult to decide where to go to catch the action on the track or cruise through the pits and try to chat to the owners of the many and varied exotic race bikes. The racing was hugely entertaining to watch, the highlight for most was Isle of Mann TT legend, Michael Dunlop making an appearance and winning both his Heat races on the day aboard a GSXR 750 SRAD that was built to basically WSBK spec for its time. What a pleasure to have a giant of the sport mixing it up on local tracks and taking time with the general public, shaking hands and taking photos all day. Well known Commentator Steve Parrish was on double duty for the day, commentating some of the racing and turning some laps on an old school 500 cc two stroke Suzuki. The Suzuki team enjoyed their time in SA using the whole event as an important shake down for the highly competitive Classic TT on the isle of Mann in a few months. So, the bike preparation was taken very seriously indeed.

AJ venter did us proud on his home track and had an incredible race against Dunlop on a Mcskimming built Suzuki scud missile. AJ is really a man we can take great pride in as a motorcycle community, flying the SA flag proudly in all his endeavours, but at the same time doing everything he can to promote grass roots racing and building the motorcycle racing community. 

The people who really made this event the tremendous success it was, were the many dedicated and passionate bike builders. Some of whom have either held onto bikes from years gone by and carefully kept them in tip top shape…. or the real mad men who decided life in South Africa is not already challenging enough and took on restoration and rebuilding projects for so many exotic and beautiful bikes. Until you attempt to restore an old bike yourself, it’s impossible to explain properly what a maddeningly frustrating process it is. But also, so important that these bikes that form an important part of motorcycling history are kept breathing for us to enjoy. Personally, the TZ350 built by Theo Harris is a favourite, absolutely immaculate and with the twin leading shoe front brake a real throwback to what many would say was a golden age of motorcycle racing. 

What a pleasure to attend an event where the core focus was not just the hardcore pursuit of trophies and chequered flags but a celebration of all things two wheel and petrol. For any motorsport enthusiast in SA , the South African Classic TT has to get put into your calendar.

Red star raceway’s facilities are top class, great food, good music from Dave Abbot, Hein Kok and the boys. The good people at the Classic superbike racing association need to take a bow for putting together another world class event.

Deon VDL, our track photographer and local racing enthusiast tells us about his experience of both rounds:

I think a great year of racing is set forth by a great start and a great start is what we have been given. It was given to us in the form of not one but two epic race weekends in a row. It started at Phakisa Freeway. Raceday a special kind of excitement rendered me almost speechless. This was a day that was going to bring a lot of joy and some special memories. Once again S.A is graced by the presence of legends, we had the honour to host some of the United Kingdom’s best Classic TT and Isle of Man racers.

Names like Michael Dunlop, Ian Simpson, Howard Selby, Steve Parrish and more had their winning bikes on our shores and were ready to see if our S.A boys can keep up with what they brought. The battles were fierce, not a single rider giving ground as they pushed the limit of man and machine. An incredible display of racing kept the fans on their feet as honour was at stake between the two countries.

At Phakisa in the F1 class No.6 Michael Dunlop who qualified fourth on the grid still managed to take the win in both races as well as 1st overall. No.22 Ian Simpson started his day in sixth on the grid and had a great day taking 2nd, No.1 A.J Venter took the last podium spot in 3rd. No.96 Matthew Herbert took 4th and No.57 Paul Jacobs followed in 5th place. No.24 Howard Selby, No.691 Gary van den Berg, No.28 Adrian McCarthy, No.2 Gordon Grigor and No.28 Jarred Miller filled the slots to make up our top 10 riders.

The F2 and F3 class racing saw a spectacular display of two stroke magic. An amazing YAMAHA 350cc two stroke piloted by No.1 Phillip Atkinson gave a great display that had him in pole position and took him to a perfect day staying in 1st place from there on. No.71 Michael McSkimming started sixth on the grid and powered his way to take 2nd in both heats. No.91 Fergal McAdam and No.41 Lionel Stanley Black battled it out with McAdam clinching the 3rd spot and Stanley Black in 4th followed by No.78x Douw Coetzee in 5th. No.59 Gary Edwards, No.174 Ewould Pienaar, No.46 Marlo Ferreira, No.29 Sarel Pottas and No.41 Dyl Pinkerton concludes our day’s top 10.

Next up was RedStar Raceway, a track loved and enjoyed by all.

An incredible performance by the RedStar team led to an incredibly awesome Raceday. The fans were in full force filling the pavilions and showing their support. Friends and family gathered for an unforgettable raceday. Not a single person there was disappointed. A family rich environment that caters to all made it easy to stay happy as the day built into excitement and brought us a mind blowing day at the races.

RedStar once again had the crowds on their feet throughout the entire day. The F1 class’s race got real as No.6 Michael Dunlop took pole position with No.1 A.J Venter only 0.276 seconds off Dunlop’s pace. A battle ensued between these two riders, Venter and Dunlop not giving into the other rider from start to finish and also claiming the battle of the day. The title taken by No.6 Michael Dunlop walked away with both race wins with No.1 A.J Venter breathing down his neck taking 2nd overall. No.22x Ian Simpson had another great day as he took 3rd for the day. No.96 Matthew Herbert with great racing of his own finished 4th and No.28 Adrian McCarthy got away with 5th. Our top 10 also included No.24 Ian Simpson, No.28x Jarred Miller, No.2x Gordon Grigor, No.67 James Barson and No.71 Andre Venter.

The F2 and F3 class yet again had the YAMAHA 350cc two stroke of No.1 Phillip Atkinson absolutely dominating the day. Another perfect day for Atkinson had him in pole position that made him unstoppable in both heats taking a comfortable 1st overall. No.78x Douw Coetzee and No.71 Michael McSkimming rode hard throughout the day with Coetzee taking 2nd and McSkimming walking away with 3rd. No.91 Fergal McAdam missed the podium coming in 4th place followed by No.29 Sarel Pottas in 5th. Everybody fought hard to be in the top 10 but only five more racers had the privilege, no.59 Gary Edward, No.7 Etienne Louw, No.337 Lee Duton, No.170 Roberto Janse van Rensburg and No.143 Darren Mortimer were the riders to achieve top 10.

After two mind blowing race weekends the fans were very pleased with the outcome and experience set forth by both riders and race tracks. So now we have to wait until next year for the U.K and S.A riders to battle it out on our home grounds. Fortunately, we still have a heap of racing to come and keep us all excited and entertained for the rest of the year. 

Until we see each other at the next race, take care and stay safe. 

Stefan vd Riet our staff photographer is a newby to classic racing and this is what he has to say:

A motorcycle race, unlike anything I’d seen before. What a cool experience. The whole day was very well organised and packed with fun things to do and see, from the plethora of kickass retro bikes to the crazy high speed drifting and all the fantastic food that the Redstar Cafe offers.

I was tripping over my jaw half the time walking through the pits checking out all the old-school bikes and hearing them fire up. 

They had a superbike racing session in between the Classic tt heats with modern 600s and 1000s flying around the track. Even though these guys looked a lot faster, they didn’t look nearly as cool as the classics, and definitely didn’t sound as awesome as the variety of classic machines trumpeting down the straight. It was a race day that really fires up the petrol head in you. As an added bonus we got to see some motorcycle legends tearing it up on the track, Dunlop vs Venter carving through the twisty Redstar Raceway was the highlight of the day, so cool!

What an amazing event, we can’t wait for next years event to roll around…

Words: Peter McBride, Stefan vd Riet, Deon VDL
Pics: Black Rock CS, Deon VDL, Jenna Lee Venter, Rene Swart

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