The North of England. Home to heavy industry and mineral extraction in years gone by. The prominent giant steel structure of the Angel of the North towers down over any visitor from the South, a reminder of where you are and the industrial history that surrounds you. In recent times heavy industry has given way to the manufacture of different commodities. The Nissan Manufacturing Plant was opened in Sunderland in 1986 and it’s huge premises produces many of the popular grocery-getters occupying our roads today such as the Nissan Note, the Qashqai and the questionably styled Nissan Juke.
For one weekend only, the British Drift Championship was in town. Maxxis brought along their own angels to Sunderland, which do you prefer? Giant steel man with wings, Maxxis girls, giant steel man with wings, Maxxis girls. Hmmmmm.
We have to be thankful for two things. Firstly, that Nissan’s taste in the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s was much better than it is today. And secondly we have to be thankful for the huge expanse of tarmac that makes up one of the many car parks surrounding the plant.
Because large expanses of tarmac make for excellent inner city racetracks and allow organisers imaginations to run wild when it comes to track design.
As seems to be common occurrence at drift events nowadays we had the odd celebrity or two on hand. Some singer bloke from Ireland?
And 2011 X-Games RallyX Champion Lian Doran would be doing his best to keep the Japspeed ‘loaner’ car pointing shiny-side-up.
Going into the Final round of the 2011 British Drift Championship all three classes were open for grabs with no one drivers across the board having enough points to be considered ‘safe’.
The Semi Pro Class was up for grabs with Matt Campling in the running in the now ACT Clutch sponsored S13. Matt had literally just finished dropping in a 1JZ engine before this round. A strange change to make for the final crucial round, only the event would tell if it was a wise choice.
Marc Huxley was his opponent for the title. Each driver’s progression through the event would decide who took the title.
In the Pro Class it was between Michael Marshall above, fresh from his podium at Drift Allstars Wembley.
And Grant Laker, who had also competed at Wembley in the purple GDA S13.5.
And in the Super Pro Class it was down to Team Falken’s Matt Carter who lead by 16 points.
Over Mark Luney in the Maxxis Tyres Cosworth SATS 1000bhp Supra behemoth!
At the end of the weekend champions would be crowned.
With all day Saturday set aside for qualifying there was seat time a plenty to be had. Plenty of time to test the opposition and get a feel for battle drifting where you can’t always pick the line you want.
A combination of a long season’s use and abuse on the cars and the harsh surface at Nissan was playing havoc with reliability across the field however. Danni Murphy’s green monster has had a busy year across europe. At the JDM Allstars event only a few weeks ago the car had suffered an exhaust manifold fracture and this weekend appeared to be suffering from boost related issues at lower rpm – once above 5000rpm it was its usual potent self having to drive around problems is far from ideal.
Several of the drivers were experiencing issues during practice. Team Falken’s Alan Green (above) had a manifold split and team mate Matt Carter had a small engine fire to contend with.
In between running repairs the drivers were getting the hang of the course and running some awesome lines and angles throughout. Looking at practice, the event was anyones for the taking.
As far as my 200 mile trek north may have seemed at the time, some drivers really made a journey to attend this round. Dutch drifters Sharon De Ridder and Dennis came all the way from the Netherlands with their white E36.
They share the car as they compete in two different classes. I first met them earlier this year during the Falken Nurburgring trip. Great people and they make some great BBQ food too!
BDC front man Mark ‘Sweeps’ Buckle is somewhat of a priest at the alter of drift . With his biblical start line presence he summons the drift Gods and brings thee drift upon thou tarmac-eth. Go forth and smoke ’em. Holding a car on the line when a driver is buzzing to be on their way is a big responsibility and the adrenaline is only unleashed when the all clear is given over the radio by the course marshals.
Three and four car drift trains started setting off, a clear sign that driver’s confidence was growing.
Some epic twin battles were unfolding already, and this was just practice!
As qualifying gets closer the driver’s main opponent to overcome is often nerves. It’s amazing to see how a completely confident and aggressive driver in practice can be reduced to making mistakes and running a safe line by the presence of a scoresheet and the watchful eyes of BDC judges Mitch Clark, Rich Newton and Julian Smith.
What is also amazing to see is the skill level of drivers increase as the season goes on. I can see quite a lot of driver promotions on the cards for the 2012 season!
The top 3 qualifiers for the Semi Pro Class are as follows –
1. Marc Huxley
2. Mark Lappage
3. Andy Stroud (who was borrowing team mate Jordan Patton’s R32 above)
Christian Lewis and Owen Taylor start off proceedings, Christian piles on the pressure in the green R33 and sails through to the Great 8.
Stuart Egdell is next in the black S13, up against Gareth Taylor in the brown/beige/orange/unsure S14a. Stuart is super clean and consistent and takes the victory.
Ashley Willis and Belinda Challis line up. A very close battle between the two but mistakes by Willis puts Belinda through to the next round in the Castrol R32.
Friends Mark Lappage and Andy Arnott are paired off. A big mistake by Mark Lappage on the first corner gives Andy a big advantage and send him into the next round.
Next on the circuit Matt Campling in his newly 1JZ’d S13 versus 2011 X-Games Rallycross Champion Liam Doran driving the borrowed Japspeed S14. Two close and pretty epic battles ensued, and after a One More Time is run Matt Campling goes through.
Kirsty Widdrington puts up a valiant fight against 3rd qualifier Andy Stroud but cannot match his aggression. Andy is into the Great 8.
Championship contender Marc Huxley in the KE70 is also on top form and makes it into the next round.
Sam Holt chases down Lewis Cracknell above, an on-form Sam pressurises Lewis into mistakes and fills the final spot in the Great 8.
Christian Lewis and Stuart Egdell are first up, there is very little to divide them.
However the judges rule that Stuart has the better drive over the two battles, Christian’s event is over.
Belinda Challis and Andy Arnott are next, Belinda is driving well and pulls a nice gap when leading. The judges however can’t decide and it goes to OMT.
Followed by another OMT at which point a straighten by Arnott sees Belinda into the Semi Finals!
A very close battle between Andy Stroud and Matt Campling follows. Campling is throwing some insane angle into the first corner and is judged to be more deserving. Campling moves into the Semis.
Sam Holt and Marc Huxley line up. in the first run Sam makes a huge mistake, handing Marc a 10-0 advantage. However in the second run after Marc starts out cautiously he throws it all away tapping into Sam! 10-0 is ruled the other way and they go One More Time! Marc goes on to secure the final spot in the Semis.
In the Semis the first battle is between Belinda Challis and Stuart Egdell. Stuart maintains a gap between Belinda in the first battle, however Belinda forces a mistake and books her place in the Final!
Two drivers at the top of the table and fighting for the championship are paired off next, Matt Campling in the orange S13 and Marc Huxley in the KE70. With mistakes from both on their first runs the judges decide to run them one more time. Could the pressure be forcing cracks?
Unfortunately Huxley’s tyres give up in the second run putting Matt Campling through to the Final!
With some new rubber fitted Huxley manages to push past an on form Egdell in the 3rd place playoff and takes the bottom step on the podium.
Two drivers fighting for different reasons in the Finals. Matt Campling fighting for the championship win and Belinda fighting for much needed points progression before the end of season! As the drivers navigate the course the fight is close, but Campling has the edge.
The judges confirm it, Matt Campling takes the Semi Pro win at the Nissan Factory and with that takes the Semi Pro championship!
With the Semi Pro Class settled there is no respite, the Pro Class step up.
Top 3 qualifiers –
1. Ian Phillips
2. Martin Richards
3. Micheal Marshall
Justin Clarke goes through to the Top 8, chasing down Adam Day in the GT ART R33.
Grant Laker goes through to the Top 8 against Dutch visitor Dennis in the E36, despite putting up a good fight.
Next up is Jordan Patton and Justin Griffiths. Justin’s white Rocketbunny S13 has a bumper-less white R32 absolutely glued to it’s door for the duration of the track. Jordan progresses through.
With Martin Richards battling for the top spot in the Pro Class progression into the later stages of the competition were a must. However Semi-Pro driver Sam Holt had earned promotion into the Pro Class and provided a major upset, sending Richards into a spin and putting him out of the competition, and ending his championship hopes!
Jarek ‘Jeek’ Federico in the V8 5 series was up next against Chris Hawkins. Jeek puts the big BMW into a spin entering the final transition, putting Chris Hawkins through to the next round.
Fresh off a podium at JDM Allstars Wembley Mike Marshall was up against Pete Green.
The two have met several times throughout the year and the battles never disappoint. Mike Marshall does enough and is also through to the Great 8.
A rather poorly sounding SR in Danni Murphy’s green S14a lines up against the RB of Nathan Chivers’ white S14a. Danni’s car is not well at all and can’t keep up, Nathan is through.
In the battle of the R33s top qualifier Ian Phillips goes against Adam Blackwell. Ian’s LS3 intake sucks his front bumper up and spits it out of the exhaust. Om and indeed Nom.
The second run is close but Ian has a slight advantage from the first run and goes through.
Grant Laker (above) is on form and makes light work of Justin Clarke in the first Top 8 battle.
Sam Holt was out to majorly upset the Pro Class, after putting out a championship contender in the first round he goes on to second Jordan Patton packing home after Patton drives off track chasing Holt.
Team mates Chris Hawkins and Mike Marshall are next. Hawkins has less angle on initiation (above) but Marshall makes mistakes. Hawkins is through.
In the last Top 8 battle Nathan Chivers tries to chase down the mighty V8 R33 of Ian Phillips but can’t match him. Phillips is in the Semis.
The first Semi Final battle is between Grant Laker and Sam Holt. Grant is driving on form and has a great lead run.
But Sam Holt is proving difficult to chase and Laker makes contact, handing Holt the win and a place in the Pro Finals!
The other Semi Final battles between Ian Phillips and Chris Hawkins are close but Phillips takes a slight advantage to put him through to the Final with Sam Holt.
Grant Laker and Chris Hawkins are battle for 3rd and 4th place. The first battle is close but Grant Laker wins, securing a podium.
No-one would have called it, Semi Pro Sam Holt in the Pro Finals against Ian Phillips. How hard can Sam rock the boat?
Two close runs kick off between the two drivers. But by a narrow margin a winner is chosen.
Ian Phillips wins the Final round of the 2011 British Drift Championship Pro Class! He misses out on the ultimate championship win though….
….to Michael Marshall in the MnM S15, who takes the 2011 Championship by just 3 points! Congratulations!
Stay tuned for the Super Pro Final coverage and full image gallery for all three classes soon! Final standings below for Semi Pro and Pro Classes respectively.
|Position||Driver Name||Driver No.||Points Total|
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