But tech­ni­cal­i­ties and of­fi­cial­dom will de­ter­mine the fi­nal re­sult

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - DEREK WILSNAGH

CAPE Su­per­bike rider Lance Isaacs may have to wait un­til his vic­tory in the In­ter­file SA Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onships is of­fi­cially con­firmed but, win or lose, very few would be­grudge “Sir Lancelot” his day in the sun.

In one of the tight­est bat­tles for the ti­tle ever seen in this cat­e­gory Isaacs pre­vailed only be­cause he man­aged to re­tain fo­cus in the face of, at times, psy­cho­log­i­cal may­hem – and mul­ishly re­fused to con­tem­plate de­feat.

The “en­emy” was bud­ding Su­per­bike tal­ent Greg Gilden­huys whose switch to the world-con­quer­ing BMW ma­chine early in the sea­son spelt huge trou­ble for the high-aim­ing Bikefin Honda out­fit, ram­rod­ded by ace tuner Brad Anas­sis.

“The BMW ba­si­cally comes off the showfloor with a World Su­per­bike team rac­ing spec. Their elec­tron­ics give them trac­tion con­trol, wheelie con­trol... ba­si­cally ev­ery aid a racer needs so that the bike be­comes eas­ier to ride,” ex­plains Isaacs.

“As our bike didn’t have any of those aids, I had to ride my ass off to beat them.”

Isaacs’ mantra of ‘go big or go home’ does not need to be ex­plained to any trackside ob­server, it’s ob­vi­ous from his body lan­guage on the bike – and why the out­spo­ken dy­namo has a sub­stan­tial na­tional fol­low­ing.

His de­ter mi­na­tion, for in­stance, was no more ap­par­ent than at East London, one of the fastest cir­cuits in the world, where he lit­er­ally rode the rub­ber off his tyres to stay with Gilden­huys, keep­ing spec­ta­tors and tele­vi­sion view­ers glued to the edge of their seats.

Even­tu­ally, with his bike en­ter­ing the corner side­ways and leav­ing tracer-like rub­ber lines, even Isaacs’ cat-like skills could not cope with the laws of physics and in the sec­ond race the Honda spat him into the dust.

Even so he got up to fin­ish eighth, but knew his ti­tle pre­ten- sions were in tat­ters.

Nev­er­the­less, at the fi­nal race­day at Kyalami last week­end, an un­daunted Isaacs again tried ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to pres­surise Gilden­huys, get­ting a light­ning start and forc­ing the BMW pi­lot to come and fetch him.

To his credit, this Gilden­huys did and Isaacs had to swal­low an­other run­ner-up podium, the ti­tle now gone un­less his ri­val did some­thing stupid in the last race.

The Capeto­nian’s sup­port­ers will say the pres­sure paid off, op­po­site camps will stick to Gilden­huys’s claim that the ABS brak­ing sys­tem failed, but the fact is, af­ter Isaacs had aced an­other blis­ter­ing start, the BMW rider lost the front of his bike in a turn while chas­ing and had to re­tire his dam­aged ma­chine – gift­ing the ti­tle to Isaacs.

So why the wait for of­fi­cial recog­ni­tion?

Well, at East London, a pos­trace protest saw the scru­ti­neers pick up a tech­ni­cal in­fringe­ment on the BMW, and Gilden­huys was dis­qual­i­fied.

That was sub­se­quently over­turned with his points re­turned. A counter ob­jec­tion was lodged against the Honda, who in turn re­tal­i­ated by ob­ject­ing against the over­turn­ing of the BMW dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion. With both cases now await­ing for ar­bi­tra­tion, who said races were de­cided on the cir­cuit!

How­ever, Isaacs says he is not in the least concerned about the off-track an­tics as he knows the Honda has been 100% le­gal all sea­son. “But that is now for MSA to de­cide.

“We started the sea­son con­fi­dent but a bit wor­ried be­cause we knew the BMWs were go­ing to be re­ally hard to beat as they were clean­ing up around the world.

“As it turned out, only in South Africa were Honda able to beat them and that forced BMW to come up with a counter, and that back­fired, as seen at East London. Say­ing the Honda is il­le­gal, that’s bull****.”

Isaacs said Bikefin Honda has to take most credit for the ti­tle.

“You have no idea how hard those guys work. The me­chan­ics only work on the race bikes, noth­ing else.

“Technology moves for­ward all the time and they have worked flat out at de­vel­op­ing our race bikes ev­ery sin­gle day. “The ef­fort they put in... “Yamaha, for in­stance, never came up with a de­cent bike this year, nor Kawasaki, though we hear they have a re­ally spe­cial bike for next year. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how that goes. It looks like a very open sea­son ahead.

“But we are con­fi­dent we will again do well and be in the run­ning for the cham­pi­onship.

“For that mat­ter, Honda have been telling us for some time they will be bring­ing a top bike out soon, I just wish they’d hurry up!

“So there should be some great new bikes and a lot of rid­ers and teams switch­ing. The rac­ing should be re­ally good next year.”

Isaacs says any ti­tle win is spe­cial but this one has been been par­tic­u­larly tough.

“I had to stay fo­cused and keep my eye on the prize which at times was dif­fi­cult (when things weren’t go­ing right).

“But it is all about dis­ci­pline and fo­cus and in the end we got it right as a team.”

LANCE ISAACS: Su­per­bike champ

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