Stewart MacLeod, Kawasaki ZX10R Masters, Kawasaki ZX10R

Kawasaki ZX10R Masters: think pray smoke*

We have reached the third last motorcycle racing event on the Kawasaki ZX10R Masters Cup calendar. From here it is off to Killarney Raceway (Cape Town) on the 19th of October and then back to Zwartkops Raceway for the final spectacular showdown on the 30th of November 2013. See you all there!

Back to the past weekend’s races. At the Kawasaki ZX10R camp, things were busier than usual. Within minutes after arriving at Kyalami Raceway/pit complex, the Kawasaki Masters were setting up camp for the weekend, and quickly too. The best part is I was fortunate enough to witness a mass of chaos unfolding into something organised and energetic (it is like evolution on a very small scale). Out comes the Kawasaki ZX10R superbikes (30 in total), the bike-stands, toolboxes, tyre warmers, helmet fans, race helmets, race suits, race boots ... and of course the stretched out camping chairs. This is one item on their lists that has significant value. Mostly used for sleeping/meditation, introspection and communication. It becomes the focal point over the whole garage floor; a broadcasting centre where all their race-thoughts are projected from. Here friends and family group together as they animatedly share in all the vibrant and lacklustre moments.

Back to evolution: If you are motivated, things happen in a flash, and THEY ARE motivated these scoot jockeys. After almost a month away from the beloved black, they have finally reached THIS point on the calendar. Elated expressions tell me that they have left worldly troubles behind. And it doesn’t matter where you stand, JB’s (Schoeman #23) laughter reverberates thought the whole garage, livening up the scored grey pit floor and dull white walls unequivocally.
After their diligent efforts, their minds return to reality, to what lies ahead: two practice sessions; two gruelling official race events of eight laps each (excluding accidents and of course the blistering sun). This is hard work, but they love doing it.

Kyalami is the perfect race circuit, as some of the front runners border on 230kph down the short pit straight—FACINATING!
And before anybody asks, you have to be very fit for this type of spectator pleaser. Under these severe conditions, it is a must. These Masters aren’t youngsters anymore. Veteran Andre van Vollenstee #82 is almost 60 and if he keeps this up for another few years, I will personally phone the Guinness Book of Records. This season has seen him extending a few quick slaps at fellow Masters, but let’s not go into details. So, to hold on to that handle bars at such high speed, takes a lot of everything that is good for you.

On Friday I spotted (through my camera lens) a few Masters hanging out at the pit wall: Johan le Roux #44, Stuart Russell #83 and one of the twins Rodney McLachlan #42, who appeared to be: thinking, praying and smoking.*

Before any Masters can leave the black behind on Saturday afternoon (after the races), they all have to face what lies ahead: winning, losing, accidents, the hysterical crowd (not to mention the wives), and high ambient temperatures. Then there is still pride, reputation and fierce competition midst the six frontrunners. (Stewart is basically doing most of the running, a great deal in fact. It has become a tale of Moby Dick, if you ask me.) How we even out the creases is our own prerogative.

On the starting grid the front order are set for serious Kawasaki superbike racing, especially now with the track appearance of Graeme van Breda #41. This would be his maiden attempt at a top podium spot so late in the season. On his knight-rider-black Kawasaki, he straddles in fourth on the starting grid, preceded by terrier Pieter de Vos #17. Could he be the liberator, the next Captain Ahab that will reel the elusive MacLeod in? Well my dear readers, patience is the key word. This will only come evident in the 2014 Kawasaki season. For now, we have to celebrate the sweet success of a long and arduous season with—Stewart "Mac Attack" MacLeod. He is the undisputed 2013 Kawasaki ZX10R Masters Champion. To his dad Norman, his motorcycle racing teammate, Paul "Maverick" Jacobs #37, to his immediate family, SEW Eurodrive, Red Square, EWeld online, Bridgestone—CONGRATULATIONS!

As the swirls of heat waves rise form the exhaust pipes and overheated black below, so too does some of the slight animosity towards neighbouring race mates, as their focus returns to the red lights ... In both races Stewart took top podium spots, with a best lap for the day of 01:43.891. Places two, three, four, five and six, belonged to Gavin Lightfoot #32, Pieter de Vos, Graeme van Breda, Johan le Roux and Paul Jacobs.
The order of the second race was in slight contrast to the first, with Graeme van Breda, speedily moving up a rung, into third place, bumping Pieter to fourth.
With his confident style Stewart MacLeod "wheelied" past spectators to except a well-deserved second chequered flag for the day.

Race one middle order belonged to Jaco Gous #43 (10th), Carel Brits #40 (13th) and Stuart Russell #83 (15th). Back order brought home Sid Farinha #57 (20th), Stewart Christie #65 (24th), and in 30th place, Cheetah Clinton Watson #55.
Race two relegated Tony Klem #13 to 12th, Peter Clark #64 (13th), Raymond Keel #33 (15th). Back order Appanna Ganapathy #77 came in at 24, Chris Marais #30 (27th), and in 28th place, Paul Webber #28.

In the parc fermé they removed their helmets carefully, unzipping their race suits with a profound expression of confidence. THEN! It is as if they give birth to themselves, they appear like moths (without the wings) out of their race-cocoons, with sweat running in torrents, surrounded by a myriad of devotees, except for Stewart MacLeod (not a drop of sweat, even his hair sported a salon look). Under the fierce rays of the summer sun and out of their boiler suits, comes a momentary cooling relieve, thanks to an abundance of Red Square—RELOAD!

As I stood outside this sphere of spent energy, laughter and enjoyment, I couldn’t stop wondering about the three "wise" men at the pit wall on Friday. At that specific moment they have left something behind worthy of contemplation. Maybe we have to think, pray, smoke, to sometimes balance our minds (not so much the smoking, but that’s Rodney); to be able to gauge want lies ahead on the winding roads of life (and the racetrack); to be able to do 230kph when the rest just applause; going beyond the norm, where few will tread. —Godspeed!

STARTING GRID LINE UP: Tony Klem #13, Pieter de Vos #17, Johan Fourie #19, Kyle Robinson #18, JB Schoeman #23, Peet de Lange #26, Frans Saunders #27, Paul Webber #28, Chris Marais #30, Gavin Lightfoot #32, Raymond Keel #33, Paul Jacobs #37, Carel Brits #40, Graeme van Breda #41, Rodney McLachlan #42, Jaco Gous #43, Johan Le Roux #44, Stewart MacLeod #46, Bertus Myburgh #50, Gavin Wagenaar #54, Clinton Watson #55, Sid Farinha #57, Peter Clark #64, Stewart Christie #65, Appanna Ganapathy #77, Andre van Vollenstee #82, Stuart Russell #83, Justin Gillesen #84, Steven Smit #85, Robbie Breakspear #88.

RESULTS RACE ONE: (1) Stewart MacLeod (best lap: 01:43.891), (2) Gavin Lightfoot, (3) Pieter de Vos, (4) Graeme van Breda, (5) Johan Le Roux, (6) Paul Jacobs.

RESULTS RACE TWO: (1) Stewart MacLeod (best lap: 01:45.295), (2) Gavin Lightfoot, (3) Graeme van Breda, (4) Pieter de Vos, (5) Johan Le Roux, (6) Paul Jacobs.

Words & Photos: Adriaan & Martine Venter (Extreme Festival, Kawasaki ZX10R Masters Cup, Kyalami Raceway, South African Motorsport, 2013/09/14, 120 images) Main Image: Stewart MacLeod, Kawasaki ZX10R. *www.rainmakerbell.com does not condone smoking (but it's a reality). SMOKING CAN KILL YOU. For more information, please phone +27 (0) 11 720 3145, or visit Cansa—click here

Extreme Festival, Red Square Kawasaki ZX10R Masters, images: 63/120

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