Round Three Report
Brands Hatch – 27th June 2010
Crowds at Brands Hatch for the third round of the Pirelli European Drift Championship witnessed a masterly performance by Pete Barber in his Mazda RX7. After a series of impressive runs throughout the day, he fended off rounds one and two winner Mark Luney in the final to claim his first win of the season.
Taking place on Sunday 27th June, the event also hosted a round of the hugely popular Time Attack Series and the ‘Summertime Special’ Modified Live tuning show. Even with the England World Cup match televised in the afternoon, 1000s of spectators came to watch the action, on what was one of the hottest days of the year so far!
The drama began right at the start when Paul Conlan’s Sumo Power supported Nissan S15 had a prop-shaft break in the first of the practice runs. Thinking that this was going to be the end of his day, fellow competitor Declan Hicks came to the rescue by sportingly lending Conlan his ‘spare’ Toyota Chaser.
The first of the four pairs to battle it out through the left-hander of Surtees and the long right-hander at Clearways were Conlan and Andrew Cooper, driving his Really Mean Sounds Nissan. Not yet completely conversant with the unfamiliar machinery around him, Conlan took to the grass on the first run and although he might have taken advantage of the situation normally, he couldn’t quite pull it back for the second and allowed Cooper through to take a place in the semi-finals.
Next to go were Kieran Cameron in his Nissan S14 and current EDC leader Luney, who’s recent form suggests he is the man to beat – and this heat was no exception. Engulfed in tyre smoke from Luney’s SVA Imports Nissan 350Z, Cameron slid wide going through Clearways on his chasing run and ended up on the grass on the outside of the bend – spoiling his chances of a place in the semis in the process.
The Kleers sponsored Nissan Skyline R32 of James Russell and the R33 of Brett Castle provided the entertainment for heat three. On the first run Russell held the advantage, but a hesitation when chasing on the second meant that Castle grabbed the most points and consequently, progression to the next level.
It was now the turn of Barber, who was up against Hicks in his ‘other’ car. Hicks new he would come under pressure and, although initiating an early drift in the first run, he slowed half-way though. This meant that he had it all to play for in the second, but the chasing Barber was on top form and closed him down as they entered Clearways – a move good enough to secure a place in the semi-finals.
Fifth-place shoot out.
Before the semis could start, fifth place had to be established and this meant that the four drivers who didn’t qualify would shoot it out between themselves. First up were Conlan and Cameron, but both spun off the track on their practice run, something definitely amiss with Conlan’s borrowed car. This left Cameron running on his own.
The second battle was between Russell and Hicks. After a disappointing run Hicks had to acknowledge defeat, which mean that the shoot-out for fifth was down to Russell and Cameron. A good performance by Russell in the first was then spoilt by a spin in the second, subsequently handing the position to Cameron.
The bar in terms of driving performance was raised for the semis, with Luney and Cooper on the attack. And, posting the fastest entry speed of the day at 103 mph, Luney once again showed why he is the current championship leader.
Castle and Barber were next to perform and went head-to-head with one of the closest battles of the season so far. For the judges, it was a case of the Skyline with the speed and the RX7 with the angles, the competition so close they had to order a re-run. With a spectacular display of car control, Barber actually looked for a way past Castle on two occasions, a performance which was enough to elevate him to the final.
The result of the semi finals left Cooper and Castle to compete for third place. Over the two runs Castle showed great technique and impressed the judges enough to award him a place on the EDC podium.
Without a doubt, the two best drivers on the day were paired up for the final. The first run saw a text-book display from both; Luney holding his line when taking the lead and Barber following his every move just a few inches behind.
It was therefore all down to their second and final run, where Luney appeared to be intent on getting past Barber and dived down the inside. But Barber kept his cool and, having to make a serious amount of adjustment mid-drift, Luney found himself off the track and in the gravel.
Without any hesitation, the judges awarded Barber with the win, the result ending Luney’s domination of the series so far this season and throwing the championship wide open with two rounds still to go.
Competitors now have a five-week break to prepare themselves for round four of the Pirelli European Drift Championship, which takes place on 1st August at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire.
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 Pete Barber – Mazda RX7
2 Mark Luney – Nissan 350Z
3 Brett Castle – Nissan Skyline R33
4 Andrew Cooper – Nissan S14
5 Kieran Cameron – Nissan S14
6 James Russell – Nissan Skyline R32
7 Declan Hicks – Toyota Chaser
8 Paul Conlan – Nissan S15
2010 Pirelli European Drift Championship Calendar
24 April: Oulton Park
16 May: Knockhill
27 June: Brands Hatch
1 August: Cadwell Park
10 October: Snetterton