Driving his Sumo Power Nissan S15 Paul Conlan finally made it to the top step of the Pirelli European Drift Championship podium this weekend, when he recorded his first win of the season in round four at Cadwell Park. Round three winner Pete Barber was second on this occasion, whilst current Championship leader and winner of the first two rounds Mark Luney finished third.
Because of its relatively narrow-width track, undulations and tight technical corners, Cadwell Park is more readily associated with club racing, bike events and track days – rather than Drifting. However, with that championship visiting the same venues as the Time Attack series and the Modified Live tuning show, organisers of the EDC decided to set their teams a challenge.
To overcome the size of the track through the sweeping right – left – right combination of Hall Bends and the hairpin right that follows, cars were run in-line, rather than the more usual side-by-side formation. This format meant that cars would start with a gap between them, with judges basing their assessments on lines, angles, speed and how much of a gap was remaining by the end of the run.
With James Russell missing from this round, seven rather than eight cars lined up for the fourth of this season’s five rounds. First to go were Declan Hicks in the HEL sponsored Toyota Cresta and Andy Cooper in the ‘Really Mean Sounds’ Nissan S14 200SX.
Hicks put the power down nicely and, with plenty of side-ways action, closed the gap between him and Cooper on the first run. The pair were evenly matched in the second run and therefore the judges, liking his more confident approach, awarded the win to Hicks.
Next up was Luney, driving the Cosworth/SVA Imports Nissan 350Z, against a formidable opponent in the shape of 2007 EDC Champion Brett Castle in the stunning chrome BC Racing Nissan Skyline. It turned out to be Luney’s lucky day, as not only did Castle spin on the first corner of the first run, but he did it again on the second run and consequently handed the win to Luney on a plate.
It was a similar story in the heat between Barber, in the Swinton Insurance/Hayward Rotary Mazda RX-7 and Kieran Cameron in the ApexV8.com Nissan S14 200SX: Already running without a front bumper due to an incident during the practice runs, Cameron started his first run well, but spun on the last corner. Clearly experiencing problems, Cameron aborted his second run and provided Barber an open door to the semis.
Fifth-place shoot out.
Due to the uneven number of drivers, Conlan was given a straight run to the next round. But, before the semis could start, the shoot-out for fifth place would need to be decided.
Initially Cameron faced Castle, who led the first run, both drivers putting in a great display of good transitions through the tricky course. However, the hairpin at the end of the course caught Cameron out on the first run and, with no mistakes by either driver in the second, Castle went through to face Cooper.
Fully committed, both drivers attacked the course, but during the opening run Cooper straightened and, unable to redress the balance in the second, fifth place was scooped up by Castle.
Hicks and Conlan were first out and initially, there was nothing in it, until Hicks found himself facing the wrong way at the hairpin. With no mistakes from either driver in the second run, it was all Conlan needed and he was through to contest his first final of the season.
The second semi-final was between Luney and Hicks. Luney used the power of his 350Z to stay on the back of Hicks during the first run and, although both achieved a series of impressive angles, Luney’s pace was enough to see him secure third place and continue to lead the championship.
The scene was now set for Barber and Conlan to decide who would become the round four winner. The first run saw Barber chasing and, catching Conlan quicker than he anticipated, he tried to find a way past but, unable to do so, Mazda driver had to straighten.
It was a case of do-or-die for the second run and Barber didn’t disappoint. A great first part of the run certainly gave him the edge, but perhaps trying too hard, a big angle developed into a spin and he exited the track and onto the grass. All Conlan had to do from then on was get to the end of the run – which he did – and was absolutely delighted to finally achieve his first ever EDC victory.
After the spectacle of Cadwell Park, the Championship now heads to Snetterton for the fifth and final round of the EDC on 10th October, where the two main contenders Luney and Barber will go head-to-head to see who will claim the 2010 title.
The Pirelli European Drift Championship is sponsored by: Pirelli, Sumo Power, Kleers, Cosworth, K-Sport, SuperPro, Toyo Tires, BC Suspension, Speedhunters.com, HKS, HEL Performance, Samco Sport, Blitz and Santa Pod Raceway.
1 Paul Conlan – Nissan S15
2 Pete Barber – Mazda RX7
3 Mark Luney – Nissan 350Z
4 Declan Hicks – Toyota Chaser
5 Brett Castle – Nissan Skyline R33
6 Andrew Cooper – Nissan S14
7 Kieran Cameron – Nissan S14
DNS James Russell – Nissan Skyline R32
2010 Pirelli European Drift Championship Calendar
24 April: Oulton Park
16 May: Knockhill
27 June: Brands Hatch
1 August: Cadwell Park
10 October: Snetterton