The Autopage Cellular Yamaha team finished this year’s South African Superbike Championship on the top podium step at AA Kyalami on Saturday (November 22). -

- Team captain and already-crowned 2003 Champion Russell Wood won the year’s final race on his Autopage Cellular Yamaha, to continue a personal tradition. Last Saturday’s victory made it seven years in a row for Wood to win both the national Champiobnship’s first and last races. -

- “It might sound silly, but when a friend made me aware of the trend two years ago, it became important to continue doing it,” Wood said. -

- Last Saturday, the Superbike brigade nearly did not get to compete on Kyalami at all. Their first race was delayed due to oil on the circuit, and then cancelled when a thunderstorm soaked Kyalami as the riders took to the circuit on dry-weather tyres. -

- Finally, the race was held at dusk, with the circuit still damp. At the start, Wood took it easy, running sixth - two places ahead of Autopage Cellular Yamaha team mate Greg Dreyer. Once happy with his Yamaha’s traction abilities, the 2003 Champion went on a charge, scything through the field to take the lead on the fourth lap. -

- Next time around, the race was stopped after Kawasaki rider Garth Norris and his machine parted company in the Esses. At the restart, with six laps left to run, Wood experienced opposition from an unexpected direction. Youngster Sheridan Morias - all of 16 years old - snatched the race lead on his Teazers Kawasaki, with Wood’s Autopage Cellular Yamaha on his tailpipes. -

- A lap later Wood passed Morias - who promptly repassed the Champion a corner later. “That came as a surprise, so I dived him properly on the next lap - and he rode around my outside, taking back the lead again,” Wood said. -

- The scenario was repeated three more times over the race’s final four laps, with Morias emerging in front every time. -

- “Finally, I decided to let him go. I was racing on a very soft tyre compound from Metzeller, and they were beginning to lose grip as the circuit steadily dried”. -

- “I was determined not to fall off in the year’s very last race, while the kid rode on a ragged edge everywhere, obviously more than willing to take huge risks.” “On the day, he certainly deserved to finish ahead of me,” Wood said. -

- Thus, a delighted Sheridan Morias crossed the Kyalami finish line ahead of the Champion. However, Wood won the race, determined by the aggregate times of the final six laps, and the red-flagged four-lap opening stint. -

- Greg Dreyer came in fifth on his Autopage Cellular Yamaha. -

- “It is good to see such talented youngsters progress from Regional racing into the South African Superbike Championship fold - though this particular kid certainly showed a distinct lack of respect for his elders at Kyalami,” Wood said. -

- The 14-times South African Champion dedicated this year’s title to the Autopage Cellular Yamaha team. -

- “These guys are the unsung heroes of motorsport - the public do not see them working at 3am on raceday mornings.” -

- “Without them, no team can operate, and the sport would die at the top level - this year’s final 600cc South African Superbike title belongs to Autopage Cellular Yamaha as much as it appears behind my name,” Wood concluded.