Biker Steven Odendaal emerging from Binder brothers’ shadow
South African motorcycling star leads World SuperSport Championship after starting the season with three wins in four races.
SA biker Steven Odendaal is making a name for himself in the World SuperSport Championship. Picture: Getty Images
Over the last two weekends, many South African motorcycle racing enthusiasts missed a three-part historical achievement. South African rider Steven Odendaal won three of the 2021 World Super Sport 600 Championship races on his Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha in that time. He now leads the season’s world title chase – the first time a South African has done so in the World SuperSport Championship arena. The first two victories came at the Aragon circuit in Spain on the weekend of 22 May, followed by a third win at the Estoril track in Portugal on 28 May. Odendaal now has 75…
Subscribe to continue reading this article and support trusted South African journalism
Access PREMIUM news, competitions and exclusive benefits
Over the last two weekends, many South African motorcycle racing enthusiasts missed a three-part historical achievement.
South African rider Steven Odendaal won three of the 2021 World Super Sport 600 Championship races on his Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha in that time. He now leads the season’s world title chase – the first time a South African has done so in the World SuperSport Championship arena.
The first two victories came at the Aragon circuit in Spain on the weekend of 22 May, followed by a third win at the Estoril track in Portugal on 28 May. Odendaal now has 75 points on the title ladder – six more than his closest rival.
Steven (27) is no stranger to winning at international level. He clinched the European Moto2 championship for the AGR team in 2016, in a season where he won six times, and stood on podiums nine times. All of which is a far cry from 2007, when a 14-year old Odendaal finished fourth overall in that season’s South African Inland short-circuit 125 cc championship.
He progressed to the 600 cc class the next season and won the regional title, before tackling national championship racing in 2009 and 2010, finishing fourth and second in the respective South African championships. Odendaal took to the international arena during 2011, 2012 and 2013, riding in the Moto2 European and World title chases, with his best result an eighth place overall during the 2012 season.
Odendaal has started the WorldSSP season like a house on fire. Picture: EPA
At age 20 Steven raced both in the 2014 European Moto2 and the South African Super 600 title chases, scoring three podium places in Europe. He did the same in 2015, this time winning the South African 600cc title, while finishing fourth overall in the European Moto2 championship.
Two-thousand-and-sixteen was the big year for Odendaal overseas, when he took a series of podiums and six victories, to clinch the European Moto2 championship overall. He failed to retain the title in 2017, finishing third for the NTS team, but he clinched the South African Super 600 championship with the Petra Yamaha.
Odendaal stepped into the World Moto2 championship during 2018 and 2019, but did not record any major successes. Last year he went back to his roots and took on the World Super Sport 600 challenge with the EAB Ten Kate Yamaha team finishing fifth overall in the World Championship standings.
This year, he is riding for the current World Championship defending Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha team, with his goal to win the title overall. Considering his efforts in the first two races, he could well pull it off.
“Steven is at the right age and maturity to become a World Champion,” says former motorcycle Grand Prix racer and motorsport guru Dave Petersen.
Odendaal has found a perfect partner in Yamaha. Picture: EPA
“The World Super Sport 600 title chase is murderously competitive, yet Odendaal won three races in a row with absolute confidence. That is the sign of a champion in the making, and I have high hopes we could see another South African world title holder before the end of the year.”
Petersen adds that Odendaal would seem to be at the right place and the right time for big things. “Obviously his current team are over the moon with his performance, and they will make sure he has everything needed to win races the rest of the year.
“Meanwhile, the people running World SuperBike teams must also be taking notice. There are many really old riders at the front end of World Superbikes, and there will be vacant places by the end of this season. If Steven carries on winning in Super Sport 600, he could well find himself with a top World Superbike ride in 2022,” Petersen concludes.
The next race weekend is from 11 to 13 June at Misano World Circuit in Italy.