The last time Greg Gildenhuys took his BMW S1000RR to the historic former grand prix circuit in East London, in the penultimate round of the 2010 South African Superbike Championship, he came away with back-to back victories and went on to win the championship at the age of 21.
On Saturday (September 3) the 22-year-old from Boskruin in Gauteng, will return to the country’s fastest and most intimidating circuit for round six of the 2011 championship as the points leader and intent on repeating the double.
This time he will be aboard a new BMW S1000RR backed by BMW Motorrad, on which he has already accumulated 206 points and a championship lead of 16 points over former champion Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki).
With Morais competing in Germany in the world Superstock 1000 championship this weekend, the tall youngster with the Simoncelli hairstyle has a great chance to increase his advantage as he aims to add a second Superbike title to the pair of Supersport titles he won in 2005 and 2006.
He has not had it all his own way this year, winning only two of the past 10 races as he’s battled to get to grips with the launch control of the BMW Motorrad Motorsport S1000RR. The bike’s brute power and its rider’s skill and consistency have seen him finish second seven times in the other eight races. If he can get off the line smoothly in East London he will be hard to beat.
He can expect strong competition from Chris Leeson (Kawasaki), who already has two wins (in round three in Port Elizabeth) to his credit this season and is third in the standings, 47 points behind Gildenhuys.
Three other BMW riders, on privateer S1000RR superbikes, will be vying for a place on the podium in the two 12-lap races.
Nicholas Grobler (Jonway BMW) is fourth in the championship, 41 points behind Leeson, James Egan (Rocket 88/Ryder Motorrad BMW) is an impressive joint fifth in the standings on 109 points with Julian Odendaal (Kawasaki) in his first season in Superbikes, and Jonathan Willcox (Willcox Consulting BMW) is seventh with 77 points.
With the leading bikes achieving top speeds approaching 300 km/h through East London’s notorious Potter’s Pass and Rifle Range bends, the scene is set for the fastest and no doubt most exciting racing on the WesBank Super Series programme.