The 40th running of the Livingstone Baths 8 Hour endurance race for lightweight motorcycles on the Kart Circuit at Killarney on Saturday 17 December delivered spectacular crashes, exciting comebacks, impressive new records – and not a single outing for the Safety Bike in eight hours of flat-out racing.

Thanks to some inspired MacGyvering in the pits all but three of the 26 starters (including all three two-strokes) were still running when Clerk of the Course Neva van der Merwe brought the chequered flag down on a long day of drama and excitement.

But the glory went to the riders of Project60 SA, the ‘dream team’ of 8 Hour veteran Trevor Westman and Short Circuit graduate Slade van Niekerk, who were riding with the names of two fallen riders, Keagan Johnstone and Clint Kymdell, emblazoned on the fairing of their Honda CBR150. 

They became the first two-man team ever to win an 8 Hour event at Killarney and the proud holders of the new ultimate course record – 556 laps of the one-kilometre circuit in eight hours, an incredible average of 51.798 seconds per lap including pit stops! It was Westman’s 14th win at this event, and certainly the one he will be proudest of.

The Powerflow team of Dakar hero Albert Hintenaus, Nian du Toit, Paul Medell and JP Friederich grabbed the lead off the traditional Le Mans start but Van Niekerk went to the front on lap three and, apart from a brief period during the first rider change, that’s where they stayed for the rest of the race.

The first hour, as always, produced the biggest crashes as the riders frantically jockeyed for position but by the second rider change the race had settled down to a fast, smooth pace, with the top eight teams all circulating at under 51 seconds. Project60 had completed 77 laps, with Powerflow just 14 seconds adrift on the same lap and Moto da Corsa VBR (Aran van Nierkerk, Nicholas van der Walt, Jordan Agliotti and Keith Agliotti) third, one lap down.

A solid second hour saw Project60 on 142 laps, three laps ahead of Powerflow and five laps clear of Moto da Corsa, but by the end of the third hour InFocus Fleet Service (Justin Priday and brother-in-law Donovan Le Cok) had moved up to third a lap ahead of Moto da Corsa.

At the halfway mark Project60 had reeled off 278 laps to Powerflow’s 273, while Moto da Corsa were back up to third on 271 while InFocus had lost their focus slightly, slipping back to fifth behind Jack Hammers (Rob Boyd, Rob Cragg and Craig Rabie), who were fourth with 266 laps on their scoresheet.

With two hours to go the gap had opened to nine laps, as Westman and Van Niekerk kept up their punishing schedule of turn and turn about on the Project60 SA Honda. Their tally was 417 laps, with Powerflow on 408 and Moto da Corsa on 405.

The final hour of the 8 Hour always provides a little extra drama; all the riders are exhausted, concentration slips and mistakes creep in – but Westman and Van Niekerk just kept reeling off the laps. In fact, Van Niekerk posted the fastest lap of the race, a blistering 47.876 seconds, in his last stint on the bike, less than half an hour before the end!

Their final tally of 556 laps broke the old record by five laps – which is as much to the credit of their crew and the smooth running of the event by Neva van der Merwe and her team as it is to the riders’.

Powerflow were second on 546 laps, with Moto da Corsa third, three laps further in arrears. The first two-stroke home was the Trac-Mac Yamaha YZR85 of Tiaan Terblanche, Juan Liebenberg, Andrew Liebenberg and David Goosen, 10th overall on 499 laps.

Mention must also be made of No Rush Racing (John Craig, Jimmy Pantony, Gerrit Visser Sr and Gerrit Visser Jr), who ran as high as fifth until they were hit by mechanical gremlins that dropped them down the order to finish 13th. Craig has taken part in every one of the 40 editions of this event, while Pantony has missed only one. And finally, the only lady in the 2022 8 Hour, Zante Otto, who led the Bulldog Racing team of Brad Bodsworth, Shaun Harris and Andre Syme (none of whom had ridden a CBR150 prior to this event!) home in 15th overall, with 469 laps to their credit.