By Clifford Ogle
The chequered flag has just waved the end of the 2018 Kawasaki ZX10R Cup season and what a season it was! Sven Grune and Graeme van Breda put on a great show all season long, battling and swapping paint right down to the last race weekend for top honours. As always, the 20-plus strong field kept us on the edge of our seats throughout the season at all the major racing circuits across the country.
According to the ZX10 Masters Cup website “The Kawasaki ZX10R Masters Cup was the brainchild of well-known racer Louis van Bergen. The Cup started in 2007 as a one make Kawasaki series and one brand tyres. Headed up by champions Greg Dreyer and Gavin Lightfoot, the recipe became a huge success. Over the years the cup has seen the participation of other national stars such as the late Gavin Ramsay, Danie Maritz, Brad Stark, Stewart Mcleod, Graeme van Breda and the late Jannie Stander, to name a few. 2019 will be the 13th year the cup will be running since its inception”.
The recipe is a simple one, keep the bikes as close to stock standard as possible with very limited modifications (slip on exhaust, rear-sets, levers, gearing, DNA air filters, ECU flashing and body kits) with all bikes competing on only 1 set of Bridgestone R10 tyres for qualifying, Race 1 and Race 2, over the race weekend. This leaves it all down to the rider who wants to twist the throttle the hardest to take the ultimate glory rather than the rider with the biggest cheque book. It also brings everyone closer together on the track which makes for good racing right down the grid.
The Club has its very own constitution, which has been approved by MSA and its purpose is to provide guidelines to the running of the cup. The general rules for each member is aimed in terms of sportsmanship, the upkeep of the good name of the cup and it’s sponsors and, most importantly, the wellbeing of the series. This has worked well in terms of attracting big name sponsors and keeping them locked in. Red Square and Bridgestone have yet again committed to the series and have signed right up until 2020, which also guarantees another 2 seasons of ZX10 action on DSTV, giving riders the opportunity to offer their personal sponsors a great platform to advertise their brand.
Over the last few seasons I have been competing in the Bridgestone Thunderbike series, which also makes up part of the Extreme Festival, and to be honest, I have always been in awe as to how the single manufacturer series is run. The grid is always full by locking in riders for a full season of racing as opposed to one hit wonder, wild-card rides creating carnage; spiced up with a bit of politics when it comes down to earning championship points, which has plagued other 2 wheels categories for years. Instead, the camaraderie between the racers is thriving and seen as more of a racing family.
The overall image that the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Cup has built up over the last 12 seasons is just supreme. I have even seen ZX10 pilots run out of talent and take a tumble in qualifying (with a very sad looking Kawi coming back to pitlane in pieces) but are back on track in time for race 1, due to their track rivals or pitlane pals having pitched in where they could with spare parts. It really is something special.
With the demise of the National series there is a lot of rumours and whispers out and about as to where the national racers will be swapping paint and burning rubber next year. One of the more widespread rumours doing the rounds, is that the National Gladiators may be joining the Extreme Festival and could even possibly be joining the Thunderbike series, which would make the cost of a privateer, like myself, trying to compete in a national series quite tricky! There is also talk of a new series coming to town, which is an exciting prospect as the aim is to be more of an open championship, in terms of rules and rider cost. However, this will have no TV coverage, no set calendar and still it is in the early stages of development. It is therefore more a case of wait-and-see, before making the switch. Plus, open rules still brings the cheque book racing issue back into the equation.
As I rapidly approach the 35 years of age milestone, I have started to do a little bit more research into the Kawasaki series as I am now finally of legal age to join the grid. What has really impressed me in my information search is how much Kawasaki is putting back into racing, ensuring that the racers are well looked after and motivated by keeping racing as affordable as possible (which is very rare on the road racing scene). I don’t think anyone else is doing this at this stage and I can assure you, in my quest for sponsorship over many seasons, they are the only ones in the Superbike category who are really taking up an interest at regional and national level.
A once-off membership fee (for the year) on acceptance into the club gets you entry into every scheduled race on the calendar. This beats the pain and suffering of selling body parts and organs on the black market once a month to pay the fluctuating entry fee, which can easily jump over the R4000 mark for a premium circuit like Kyalami. New green machines are subsidized, if you are looking at racing a brand new machine, and any ZX10R qualifies for the racer a discount on genuine Kawasaki parts, which makes the running cost over a season minimal.
My personal favorite though, are the logistics on offer. When racing the away events on the calendar, like down in the coastal regions, the organizers have an allocated vehicle to transport all the racers bikes down to the track, which takes out the logistical nightmare of trying to balance work, travelling and getting everything to the track and back after the race weekend. All you need to do is crate your bike and like magic it arrives at the circuit and then back in Joburg a few days later.
It really is a no brainer for me at this stage, as who wouldn’t want to be a part of the best racing series in South Africa? So, as I am writing this article I am putting my current race bike up for sale, putting in an active search on all the online bike find websites and filling in my membership application, as it just makes sense to go green in 2019!
Photos by Neil Phillipson / Racetrackpics.