With championship titles hanging in the balance, the fifth and final round of the 2020 Regional Short Circuit series at Killarney on Saturday 21 November was always going to be intense – but it seemed almost as if the frustrations of an incredibly difficult year exploded on circuit in some of the tightest, hardest-fought racing ever.

And yet it wasn’t about the titles, as Slade van Niekerk said when told that he had clinched the CBR150 Junior title with a hard-fought win in his first race of the day. “I didn’t know,” he said. “I just want to race!”

And race they did. Van Niekerk led from lights to flag in Race 1, with Nicholas Hutchings, Jason Linaker and David Lindemann all over him for the first half of the race. Van Niekerk managed to eke a slight but crucial lead in the closing stages to win by four seconds from Hutchings and Linaker – who were just nine thousandths of a second apart at the line after an epic battle for second, with Lindemann fourth, only three seconds further adrift.

The battle for fifth was even closer, as Abigail Bosson blitzed both Gareth Dawson and Billy de Beer on lap three, only for Bosson and Dawson to crash at the rope chicane a lap later, gifting the spot to De Beer.

Race 2 looked set to be an action replay, with Van Niekerk, Hutchings, Linaker and Lindemann all covered by 1.629sec at half distance, while De Beer and Bosson were less than half a second apart in fifth and sixth respectively and Shaun Potter, David Vismer and Robin de Vos were even closer in their fight for seventh.

On lap five, however, Vismer threw it away in Damp’s Dip, bringing out the red flag; while the rest of the reformed on the grid, a bitterly disappointed Van Niekerk took his championship-winning machine into the pits with a sick engine.

Hutchings led from the restart, fending off the attentions of Linaker and Lindemann for four intense laps that ended with all three covered by less than half a second. Bosson gave it everything she had, showing De Beer a wheel more than once, but was unable to make the pass and finished fifth, 0.009sec behind De Beer.

Race 3 was just as intense, with Lindemann, Hutchings and Linaker battling all the way for the lead. Lindemann pulled off not one but two kamikaze overtaking moves in the rope chicane to win by 0.185sec from Hutchings, with Linaker another 0.19sec further adrift.

Ms Bosson caught arch-rival De Beer and passed him for fourth on lap five, holding him off in a superb ride until she missed a gear in the rope chicane on the final lap. Her initial fear was that De Beer would hit her from behind, but he managed to slingshot around her to take fourth by 0.293sec. Twenty seconds later, Shaun Potter held off Robin de Vos to take sixth by less than a quarter of a second.

Lindemann went on to win all three Super Singles races, chased home in Race 1 by Van Niekerk and newbie Ryan Coetzee. In Race 2, Coetzee used the mid-range power advantage of his 400 Kawasaki over Van Niekerk’s 250 Honda to get the better of a race-long battle, taking second by just 0.786sec. Van Niekerk was having none of it in Race 3, however, grabbing second spot off the line and chasing Lindemann all the way to finish a hard-fought five seconds in arrears.

The Supermotard races were a Gareth Gehlig benefit as the Honda rider roared to a triple win over the KTM’s of Regan Mitchell and Rohan Swanepoel. Mitchell fell in the cutover on the second lap of Race 1 and finished a lap down from Gehlig and Swanepoel, but came back fighting to take a fine second in Race 2. Swanepoel got a better start in Race 3 and held second for a lap and a half, but Mitchell caught and passed him on lap two to finish nine seconds down on the winner.

All the riders may be under nine years old but the competition in the Mini Moto/ SuperMotard Junior racing is just as intense as among their older siblings, with David Lindemann’s younger brother Aaron giving class leader Riley Coleman a real run for the silverware on a smaller, slower machine, and Abigail Bosson’s bother Christopher already displaying the talent that comes with the family genes.

Motard rider Coleman won all three races, however, chased hard by Lindemann in Race 1, with Bosson a distant third. Race 2 saw Lindemann take an early lead, only to lose the front end in the hairpin when the engine of his Mini Moto cut out mid-corner. His pit crew (Dad!) got the bike going again, but after it cut out again in the hairpin Lindemann gave up and walked back to the pits, disappointment apparent in every line of his body language, while Coleman and Bosson took line honours.

The bike was running again for Race 3, as Lindemann chased Coleman’s faster Motard for all he was worth, with Bosson hanging in gamely as they finished in that order.

Darren Liebenberg’s Yamaha R6 powered machine was the car to catch in the Formula M races, with Fuaat Gamiet keeping him honest all the way and Ryan Kat struggling with mechanical gremlins that saw him finish two laps down in Race 1.

Gamiet grabbed the lead at the start of Race 2, but spun out on lap two. A lap later, Kat’s car went sick and it was all over bar the cheering as Gamiet, two laps down chased Liebenberg for all he was worth but was unable to unlap himself.

Race 3 was a cracker as Gamiet got the holeshot again and spun out again, but recovered within seconds to pass Kat on lap five and finish 33 seconds behind Liebenberg, with Kat a further nine seconds adrift.

The Superkart races produced some of the closest battles of the season as Ebrahim Salie passed early leader Muneer Salie on lap three of the first race and held on despite a number of challenges to win by less than a second after Taahir Salie went out on lap four.

Race 2 was Muneer’s time to shine after a race-long tussle with Taahir that saw them finish just 0.058sec apart, while Ebrahim’s kart didn’t even finish the first lap. Ebrahim was back for a showstopper Race 3 however, as he and Muneer swopped places on almost every lap, finishing less than a second apart with Ebrahim in front when it counted, while Taahir followed, 20 seconds back, in third.