A dramatic last lap race two error by eight-times world champion Stefan Everts handed Grand Prix of South Africa victory to Josh Coppins, who beat the Belgian in race one but looked set for a distant second in the final outing – until Everts waved to the Sun City crowd with just a few corners to go...
CAS Honda rider Coppins and L&M Yamaha star Everts dominated both races, with race one witnessing a superb duel between the pair after a slow starting Everts had caught Kiwis Coppins and Ben Townley.
Townley would fall from contention shortly after, leaving the straight Coppins/Everts battle. Coppins shadowed the #72 until lap 13 when he took the lead, but Stefan snatched it straight back and it would take Josh until lap 17 of 20 to make what would be the final pass for the lead. He then held on despite intense pressure from Everts right to the flag.
The first 20-minutes of the second heat saw the pair pick up where they had left off, but then Coppins began to suffer from arm cramps and slowly faded to over 10secs from the Belgian as the last lap began.
Then, while Everts was jumping through the rhythm section for the final time, he waved to the nearby fans to celebrate what would have been his 85th GP victory - but his bike landed awkwardly and although he had both hands back on the bars he couldn't control the machine and was unceremoniously pitched off.
His YZ-450F stalled in the incident, but looked otherwise undamaged, and with Coppins so far back Everts was able to restart the machine before Josh arrived. But as he tried to pull away, with Coppins now in view, Everts clearly had some form of problem (later diagnosed as a locked-on front brake) and a stunned Coppins was able to ride around the world champion with just a few turns to go.
The organisers were equally as surprised, since they didn't wave the chequered flag - or set off the finish line fireworks - until a shell shocked Everts had crossed the line in second.
"I am really unhappy with this. I made a stupid crash on the last lap and had a problem with the front brake. I had beaten Josh and I deserved the victory today," he sighed. "In the first moto I had more problems with the lappers - they seem to be a hassle at every GP - but Josh rode really well. I hope that I can win in Belgium because I wanted it really badly here."
"I was pretty lucky today!" admitted Coppins. "Of course it's always good to win but I never expected to win like that – it's not so nice to win. It's better to win because you're the best. I was the best in the first race but got a lot of cramp in the second race. My speed was good but I was struggling with cramp.