The Livingstone Baths 4 Hour Endurance race at Killarney’s Kart Circuit on Saturday 10 September turned out to be an epic battle between the top two teams that kept the spectators on the edge of their seats all the way to the flag.

They were Project60 SA’s Team Wayward (Trevor Westman, riding with an injured elbow after a huge crash earlier in the day, and Slade van Niekerk) and NDT Racing, fielding Nian du Toit (who is better known at Killarney as a very versatile car racer but in fact has a solid background in off-road motorcycle racing) and Missile Motorcycles’ former SSP300 national champion Kewyn Snyman, with veteran SA Superbike champion Greg ‘Tumble’ Dreyer as their reserve rider.

But it was Nicholas Hutchings on the first of four HSC Racing machines who led the 12-strong field off the Le Mans start and into the first session, setting a near-sprint pace of well under 49 seconds a lap, with Snyman for NDT and Van Niekerk on the Team Wayward CBR150 in hot pursuit. Snyman relegated Hutchings to second on lap 22, and Westman forced his way past 10 laps later – which may have been an early warning of disaster to come because just four laps later HSC 72 rattled to a stop in Hoal’s Hoek with a blown motor.

Snyman posted the quickest lap of the race – a blistering 48.399 seconds in lap 40 but Team Wayward were having none of it, never more than a few seconds behind. At the end of the first hour NDT had completed 71 laps to Team Wayward’s 70, with Hillbilly Racing (Peter Hill, Robin de Vos, Nasief Smart and Jacques Ackermann) third on 67.

A superbly consistent second hour saw the No.14 Honda of father and son Klint and Max Munton, and Willy van Niekerk, move up to third, ahead of HSC 74 (Wynand Donaggi, Torrin Wainwright and Jandre Koekemoer) and Hillbilly Racing – but NDT and Team Wayward were on the same lap, just 12 seconds apart after 142 laps, and eight laps ahead of the Munton machine.

At this point Donaggi’s knees gave out (racing a machine as small the Honda CBR 150 requires a lot of body English) and HSC asked, and received, permission for Nicholas Hutchings, lead rider of the ill-fated HSC 72, to replace him.

Halfway through the third hour, however, the Team Wayward CBR150’s chain jumped off the rear sprocket. Van Niekerk pushed the bike back to the pits and crew chief Alan Westman reset the rear axle adjustment, lubricated the chain and got the bike back on the track in just over three minutes – but three minutes at this pace was four laps, a huge deficit when the two lead teams were so evenly matched!

Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Westman from going out and giving it horns – by the end of the third hour he’d made up a lap. NDT were on 212 laps, Team Wayward on 209, the Muntons were holding a solid third on 202 and the Hillbilly CBR 150 ‘Lucky Lucy’ was seven laps further adrift on 195.

After three solid hours of racing the two leading teams were still lapping in the low 48’s, while nobody else was quicker than 50 seconds. Team Wayward threw caution to the winds and did everything they could to close the gap during the final hour, but to no avail – they were still three laps down at the flag.

The last hour produced plenty of drama for HSC Racing, however; HSC 74 was running a solid fourth behind the Muntons when Nicholas Hutchings suffered his second terminal mechanical infarction of the day and, to add insult to injury, the fourth and last HSC machine, the No.2 CBR 150 of Abdul Essack, Adrian Solomon, Ryan Coetzee and Michael Jocelyn, ran out of fuel less than two minutes from the flag while they were running a creditable seventh! HSC 74’s blown engine, however, only cost them one position; they moved down to fifth behind NDT, Team Wayward, the Muntons, and Hillbilly Racing. Despite HSC’s mechanical carnage, 10 of the 15 starters were still running when Clerk of the Course Neva van der Merwe brought out the chequered flag after four hours of non-stop drama, and 12 were classified as finishers.