Round 3 of the Livingstone Baths Endurance series for lightweight motorcycles delivered the closest finish yet in this hard-fought category, with a winning margin of just 6.112 seconds after four hours and 290 laps of flat-out racing on the Karting Circuit – including a new CBR150 lap record!

Nian du Toit, sharing the Powerflow Salt River CBR150 with Kewyn Snyman, grabbed the hole shot off the traditional Le Mans start to take the early lead from the Project 60 SA CBR150 of young guns Slade van Niekerk and Tristin Pienaar, setting the scene for an epic contest that was to go right down to the flag.

Van Niekerk moved into the lead on lap 14 but was unable to make a break as Du Toit held on for all he was worth. At the one-hour mark, with 70 laps on the board, they were just 1.117 seconds apart, with the Sunscan Solar machine of Max Munton and Jason Linaker, and HSC Racing (Braddon Hutchings, Nicholas Hutchings and Adrian Solomons) third and fourth respectively, two laps down.

On lap 118 Van Niekerk posted the fastest lap ever of this circuit on a Honda CBR150, breaking his own three-year-old sprint-race lap record to set a new mark of 47.698 seconds – which gives you some idea of the pace the leaders were running at.

Midway through the second hour, the HSC CBR150 began to suffer carburetion problems, and after 126 laps and a couple of long pitstops the team withdrew, becoming the only one out of 12 starters not to finish the race – despite a number of huge crashes that left in particular the Olibert CBR150 of father and son Albert and Oliver Hintenaus and the Willies Service Centre machine of William Morries, Wayne Gresse and Nicho Venter looking very second-hand.

Also on lap 126, Powerflow retook the lead by the tiniest of margins and by half-way, 19 laps later, the gap was still only 14 seconds, with Sunscan third on 140 laps and Olibert fourth on 136 (this was before Oli’s monumental tumble exiting the Pits Esses).

That happened on lap 186, and dropped the Hintenaus machine to eighth, as Namibian Ronald Slamet and Andre Calvert on the RSRA entry moved up into fourth.

With an hour to go, Powerflow and Project 60 were still on the same lap, but a minor mishap with a back-marker had opened the gap to almost 39 seconds. Sunscan was still third, and RSRA were consolidating fourth, eight and 12 laps down respectively.

Pienaar’s final stint closed the gap down to a little more than 24 seconds, leaving Van Niekerk with a monumental task in the final half-hour. He put in the ride of his life, reeling in Du Toit metre by metre as the minutes counted down, but in the end six o’clock came just too soon, and he took the flag 6.112 seconds behind the Powerflow machine.

Munton and Linaker came home a creditable third, 14 laps behind the leaders, with RSRA fourth, four laps further adrift. Despite a number of spectacular tumbles, the ambulance was never called for and there were no safety bike periods, which is how the leaders were able to maintain an average speed, including pitstops and refuelling, of just over 72km/h on this tight and tricky circuit.