Gildenhuys shines at Zwartkops
GREG GILDENHUYS: Part of an historic BMW 1-2-3 at Zwartkops Raceway. Image: MOTORPICS
A convincing win and a close second in Race 2 of Round 4 at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday saw South African Superbike champion Greg Gildenhuys (BMW S 1000 RR) turn a 10-point deficit into a 10-point advantage in his quest for a third successive title.
The 23-year-old from Boskruin in northern Johannesburg now leads his closest rival, Dave McFadden (Kawasaki), by 171 points to 161 with third-placed BMW privateer Nicolas Grobler on 127 .
It was a great weekend for BMW and the S 1000 RR superbike with Gildenhuys, Grobler and fellow privateer Ryan Ottens taking the top three overall positions for the day after a maiden 1-2-3 for BMW in Race 1 and second, third and fourth in Race 2.
FAILED TO START
Gildenhuys, showing the best form of his career, won the opening 12-lapper around the tight 2.4km Zwartkops circuit from pole by a comfortable 5.8sec from Grobler with Ottens a further 0.8 behind in his maiden podium finish on the big BMW. Heinrich Rheeder, Konrad Viljoen and Etienne Nelson were fourth, fifth and sixth in the Masters category.
An exciting Race 2 saw Gildenhuys, Grobler and McFadden each leading with McFadden, who failed to start Race 1 after a fuel starvation problem, pipping Gildenhuys to the finish line by a tenth. McFadden took full advantage of the fact that he was on new tyres after sitting out the opening encounter but still had to contend with an inspired and courageous Gildenhuys who threw everything he had at his main championship rival.
In a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle over the last eight of 12 laps both riders broke the Superbike lap record set by Sheridan Morais in November 2011 with the final honours going to McFadden.
Grobler, who has improved with every outing in 2012, finished a fine third after leading the race on laps three and four and recording a personal-best lap before his tyres started to lose grip. Ottens completed a successful weekend in fourth. Rheeder took the honours in the Masters’ category, finishing eighth overall. Viljoen and Nelson were fourth and fifth in the Masters.
'GREAT DAY FOR TEAM'
A delighted Gildenhuys said later: "The BMW was awesome all weekend and if it hadn’t been for the fact that Dave had such a big advantage with his new tyres in Race 2, I’m sure we could have done even better but 45 points and the championship lead is a great result.
“This has been a great day for the BMW team and for the BMW privateers. Our first race 1-2-3 and 1-2-3 overall for the day,“ said a delighted Rob Holder, BMW Motorrad's general manager.
Round 5 of the championship will be in Durban, kwaZulu-Natal, on June 23.