main

Event

World Rallycross Championship Round 4 – Mettet

25th May 2017 — by Steve White

Hansen-1600PX-960x640.jpg

After a fantastic weekend at the opening round of the 2017 World Rallycross Championship I had to be content with watching rounds two and three from afar. Thankfully the wait between rounds is minimal and I have returned to the Circuit Jules Tacheny Mettet in Belgium for round four.

A quick glance at the results from this year’s Championship and you could be forgiven for thinking that Mattias Ekstrom is dominating the 2017 season.

Although Mattias has won all three finals – and managed to pull out a significant lead in the Championship standings in the process – the wins have come as a result of smart driving in the closing stages of the weekend rather than though outright domination. The top qualifier at each of the three 2017 Championship rounds thus far has been a different driver: all driving different marques.

In terms of raw pace the new PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI has been the car to beat. The Polo has topped the practise timesheets at every round of the Championship thus far and Belgium would prove no exception to that rule, with team mates Petter Solberg and Johan Kristoffersson placing first and second respectively.

Of course races are not won on a single lap time and it has been consistency – and arguably luck – that has kept overall victory out of reach for Kristoffersson and Solberg. Day one in Mettet would see the team perfectly combine speed and consistency, with Petter and Johan taking a qualifying win each. There was still a long way to the final, but could this be the weekend when the Polo GTI took its first overall victory?

Pleasingly the Peugeot-Hansen 208’s seem more competitive in 2017. Sebastien Loeb had failed to make the semi-finals at the opening round in Barcelona, but he looked much stronger at both rounds two and three, making it to the final at both and finishing as high as second in Portugal. Team mate Timmy Hansen also performed well in Germany, qualifying second at the intermediate stage and taking third – his first podium finish of 2017 – in the final.

Notably Timmy Hansen seemed far more aggressive with his lines at Mettet than I can ever recall seeing in the past. With his circuit racing background, Timmy has always been synonymous with smooth and tidy driving, but he was riding curbs and skimming – or even clipping – trackside furniture in Belgium. This resulted in several spectacular two wheel moments: and a number of smashed front bumpers!

Despite reaching the semi-final stage in both Portugal and Germany, Kevin Hansen is yet to reach a final in this year’s World Rallycross Championship. I had been expecting to see Kevin challenge – and perhaps even beat – his older brother Timmy, but the speed isn’t quite there yet.

Things got off to a promising start in Belgium, with two top ten times in the opening days qualifying races. Unfortunately any hopes of surpassing Timmy in Belgium disappeared in the third qualifier, when Kevin ran slightly off line on the ascent from the bottom of the circuit, clipping the banking and sending his Peugeot 208 into a violent series of rolls.

After a strong second half to the 2016 season, which included three overall victories, I touted Andreas Bakkerud as one to watch this year. Third in Barcelona was an encouraging start, but a semi-final retirement in Portugal was followed by a disastrous weekend in Hockenheim where Bakkerud failed to make it beyond qualifying.

Ken Block has at least delivered consistent results for Hoongian Racing Division, with Block qualifying for the semi-finals at rounds one, two and three.

Mettet would prove to be the best weekend of the year for Hoonigan Racing. Bakkerud placed fourth in qualifying one with Block in eleventh, then Block surprised many to take fourth fastest time in qualifying two. Ken continued that form in day two, with ninth in qualifying three and another fourth in the final set of qualifiers.

Sixth in the intermediate standings was the best qualification result of the year for Block and, with Bakkerud in fourth, both Focus RS RX qualified for the second of the World Championship semi-finals.

Unfortunately Block’s progress was again halted at the semi-final stage, as he retired on lap five of the race after an interaction with the scenery. Ninth overall was still his best result of 2017 and hopefully an indication that the American might be a finalist before the year is out.

Andreas Bakkerud fared better, chasing Petter Solberg to the flag and earning a spot on the second row of the Supercar final. After the disappointment of Portugal and Germany, it was fantastic to see Andreas back at the sharp end again.

While Mettet didn’t constitute part of the European Championship, it had a packed timetable with the second round of both Touring Cars and Super 1600 taking place, as well as the opening round of the 2017 RX2 Championship.

The latter was a particular point of interest for me as, although the RX2 category (formerly known as RX Lites), has produced some good racing, the permanent class numbers haven’t been that high, so the overall Championship battle has often been fought out by just a couple of drivers.

With eighteen entries at Mettet, interest in RX2 looks very strong this year. Included among those entrants was 2016 British Rallycross Champion Dan Rooke who, after failing to secure a budget for this year’s British Championship, has managed to secure himself a drive in an RX Lite.

After recovering from a poor start, Philip Gehrman won the opening round of the Touring Car Championship in Barcelona and it was Philip who headed the Championship standings prior to racing getting underway in Belgium.

Defending Touring Car champion Ben-Philip Gunderson had a weekend to forget in Spain, but things got off to a much more promising start in Mettet. Second in the opening qualifying race was followed by another second in race two and two first places in qualifying three and four.

Lars-Oivind Enerberg had qualified top at round one, but finished outside the top three in his semi-final and thus missed out on the final. Enerberg was again quick in qualifying at Mettet, winning the first days qualifying races and placing well enough on day two to sit second in the intermediate standings. Winning the first Touring Car semi-final, Lars-Oivind claimed a front row spot for the final.

It looked like Enerberg would be fighting with Ben-Philip Gunderson for the overall win but, for the second time, Gunderson failed to make it through to the final. Although Ben-Philip at least managed to get some Championship points on the board in Belgium, failing to make it beyond the semi-final stage was a real blow to his title defence, with Gunderson now trailing the Championship leader by 29 points.

Enerberg carried his semi-final winning form into the final. Leading the pack out of turn one, the biggest threat to Lars-Oivind came from Anders Braten. Opting for an early joker, Braten pushed hard to close up the gap and, when Enerberg took his joker, Anders took the lead. When the joker staggered unravelled at the end of the race, it became clear that Lars-Oivind had done just enough and he took the win from Braten, with round one winner Philip Gehrman in third.

I had suggested in my pre-season preview that, if consistent , Ulrik Linnemann unquestionably had the speed to win both individual rounds and this year’s Super 1600 title.

Linnemann proved his race-winning pace at the first round of the Super 1600 Championship in Portugal, where he took overall victory, Unfortunately Ulrik couldn’t repeat the feat in Belgium, as mechanical woes forced his retirement during the final.

Top qualifier in the Super 1600 category at Mettet was Artis Baumanis. After setting fastest overall time in the opening race, Artis posted top eight times in the remaining races to pip Kasparas Navickas to the top spot.

After winning in the first Touring Car semi-final one, overall victory for Baumanis was looking ever more likely until, on lap four of the final, Artis clipped the tyre barrier on the outside of turn one. Obviously keen to make up any lost time, Baumanis charged into the joker section a bit too hot, rolling his Fabia in the process and handing the lead over to Janno Ligur.

With the damaged Fabia of Baumanis on the circuit, the race was immediately red flagged and, as Ligur was yet to take his joker lap, a time penalty was awarded which handed first position to Kasparas Navickas, who had already taken his joker.

Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme scored his best result of the year, with third in the intermediate standings, second in his semi-final and third in the final.

Kasparas Navickas now leads the Super 1600 Championship, with Ulrik Linnemann in second just five points adrift of Navickas. Artis Baumanis and Jussi-Petteri Leppihalme are joint third and Krisztian Szabo fifth. All five drivers are separated by just nine points and, with four rounds of the Championship left, I strongly suspect that the lead will change hands again before the seasons end.

In the RX2 category, it looked like defending Champion Cyril Raymond was making a measured start to the weekend, as he posted sixth fastest time in the opening RX2 qualifying race. However problems in qualifying two saw Cyril tumble down the standings.

With Raymond struggling, it was Simon Olofsson who set the early pace in RX2. The greatest challenge to Olofsson came from Dan Rooke, who demonstrated considerable pace against the RX Lite veterans. Rooke placed second in qualifying two, then went one better and won qualifying three.

Rooke was second only to Olofsson in the intermediate standings which was a superb way to get his RX2 campaign underway.

Bouncing back from the disappointment of qualifying two and three, Cyril Raymond won the fourth qualifier and the second RX2 semi-final, placing him alongside Simon Olofsson on the front row of the final grid. When the lights went green Olofsson was able to fend off Raymond to take the lead and it looked like the challenge to Simon would instead come from Dan Rooke. While Rooke and Olofsson battled, Raymond took an early joker and, when Simon picked up a puncture, Dan found himself second to Cyril after taking his joker.

Victory in the RX2 final was a remarkable reversal of fortune for Cyril Raymond. From fifteenth overall at the end of day one to an overall win at the end of day two. Cyril left Mettet with an equal point haul to Dan Rooke and the pair currently share the lead of the RX2 Championship. With the next round of RX2 taking place at Lydden Hill, Rooke will have circuit knowledge on his side, so fingers crossed he will stand on – or perhaps even atop – the podium at round 2.

Timo Scheider has seemingly been unable to duplicate his round one podium success. Kevin Eriksson was the MJP Racing Team Austria Fiesta to watch at Mettet, with Kevin making it all the way to the back row of the final. Eriksson might have made posed a challenge for a podium spot, but a puncture relegated him to the back of the field where he eventually finished fifth.

I was expecting a breaking in period for the pair of STARD Fiestas, but I thought we might see them posing more of a threat for final positions at this point in the season. Janis Baumanis barely managed to finish the top 16 where he netted a single Championship point. Team mate Timur Timerzyanov got a little further but, for the third time this year, his weekend came to an end in the semi-finals.

I believe both drivers have the talent to be challenging the front runners and I hope it’s not long before we see them up there.

With such a strong performance throughout the weekend and cars on the first and second row of the grid, the odds of a maiden victory for PSRX Volkswagen Sweden seemed good. After the lights had gone green it was Petter Solberg who led the pack into the first corner and down towards the lower section of the track. Timmy Hansen slotted into second and, after a brief moment of contact with Andreas Bakkerud, Johan Kristoffersson snatched third.

Petter would retain the lead until the end of lap two, when Timmy Hansen got fantastic drive out of the inside of the final corner and ran alongside Solberg as they turned into the first turn of lap three. Petter tried to hold off Timmy, but instead ran wide, grazing the tyres on the outside of the first corner. As the Polo GTI snapped back onto the racing line, Solberg collected the hapless Focus RS RX of Bakkerud and fired him into the tyre barrier on the opposite side of the track.

Andreas managed to limp on for another half a lap before retiring at the side of the track. With Kevin Eriksson struggling with a puncture and Kristoffersson opting for an early joker, Mattias Ekstrom was elevated to third. The position of Ekstrom was to prove critical to the final result as, although he was several seconds behind the race leaders, both Johan and Petter would end up behind Ekstrom after taking their joker lap.

As Kristoffersson and Solberg tried to find a way past Ekstrom, Hansen had a clear track ahead and could focus on putting in the quickest laps possible. It looked like Timmy might have stretched out enough of a gap to joker and retain the lead, until the final lap of the race when it became apparent that his Peugeot 208 had picked up a left front puncture. With Ekstrom also opting to take his joker on the final lap, the finishing order was decided on the last corner.

Despite being held up by Mattias Ekstrom, Johan Kristoffersson had done enough and he took the maiden win for the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo GTI. Undeterred by the puncture, Timmy Hansen had the throttle absolutely pinned as he emerged from the joker and, although it looked like Petter had crossed the line first, Timmy claimed second place by a hundredth of a second.

Finishing fourth Mattias Ekstrom retained first place in the World Championship standings, however his lead has been slashed, with just three points to second place Kristoffersson and fourteen to third place Solberg. With Ekstrom’s early Championship lead severely eroded, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden pair will surely be aiming to catch and pass Mattias next time out.

The fifth round of the Championship takes place at Lydden Hill this weekend. Fueltopia will be in attendance, so be sure to check back for full event coverage in the coming days!

 

 

Want to see more of the World Rallycross Championship at Circuit Jules Tacheny Mettet? Click here for a full image gallery.

Event

Rear View Mirror 2016

14th December 2016 — by Steve White

Evjen-Gravel-Pan-WM-960x640.jpg

It pains me to admit it, but sometimes there are very rare occasions when motorsport isn’t the most important thing in life. I’m immensely proud of everything I have achieved this year but, in order to fit it all in, compromises had to be made with regards to the number of motorsport excursions I was able to make in 2016.

Knowing that I’d be unable to attend the quantity of events I wanted, my focus for this year instead shifted to ensuring that the quality of those outings I could make was as high as possible.

Despite the aforementioned compromises, I was at least able to get 2016 underway in the usual fashion: with rallycross of course! Round 2 of the British Rallycross Championship  also constituted part of the Belgian Rallycross Championship, so there were good entry numbers throughout the multiple Championship classes.

It was great to see the return of several British Championship stalwarts alongside a number of fresh faces. There was a notably high rate of attrition in the Supercar category, with several of the title favourites encountering difficulties throughout the day.

As the familiar names fell by the wayside, it was Supercar rookie Dan Rooke who made his way to the front of the field and went on to take the win. With Lydden marking his second podium finish in as many rounds, it was an early indication that Rooke was going to be one to watch.

From the mixed surfaces of Lydden, my next stop for 2016 was the hallowed tarmac of Brands Hatch for the first round of the British GT Championship. British GT seems to be in great health at the moment, with each round of the National Championship attracting large and varied entries. The presence of several BMW Z4’s on the grid at Brands really served as the icing on the cake, as I just can’t get enough of BMW Motorsports hardcore take on Barbie’s favourite Bimmer.

The opening British GT round gave me my first chance to see the GT3 variant of the Lamborghini Huracan in the metal and I liked it. I liked it a lot. The sound wasn’t quite on par with my beloved Z4 GT3 but, in terms of looks, the Huracan definitely gives the BMW a run for its money.

Barely a month had passed since my British GT outing when I found myself heading back to Brands to once again savour the sights and sounds of GT3 cars. The second round of the Blancpain GT Sprint Cup marked a rather significant milestone in the history of GT3 racing: it was 10 years to the weekend since the competitive debut of the class. The success of GT3 was reflected in the entry list, which was far greater in size than it had been on past visits to Brands Hatch.

As well as a packed main grid, the 2016 Blancpain round at Brands also boasted a much fuller support package than previous years. The Sport Club race was hugely entertaining, though it was the cars of the Hyperclub that proved the biggest draw to spectators. Not only were there a plethora of exotics present in the paddock, but many of them were taken out on track for a damn good thrashing.

Mettet would be one of three World Rallycross Championship rounds I was able to attend in 2016 and Belgium was the first occasion I could lay eyes on the M-Sport Ford Focus RS RX. I personally rate the M-Sport Fiesta as the best looking car in the current crop of rally and rallycross cars, so I was eager to see how the Focus compared.

Hoonigan Racing team mates Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud were both plagued by technical gremlins but, amidst the problems, glimpses of the true capability of the car could be seen.

Few were surprised to see the big names at the front end of the field in the World Championship races, but it was the success of the younger drivers in the European Championship battles that caught many by surprise. Defending European Champion Tommy Rustad looked outpaced by the likes of Joni-Pekka Rajala and Kevin Hansen. Much like Dan Rooke, Kevin Hansen was a name that rallycross spectators would become very familiar with in 2016.

Round four of the World Rallycross Championship took place at Lydden Hill just a fortnight after Belgium. Andreas Bakkerud demonstrated how rapidly development of the Focus RS RX was progressing, with a surge of pace that saw him qualify on the back row of the final. Mechanical woes would prevent him from challenging for a podium spot, but it was a clear sign that Bakkerud was ready to enter the fray as a serious title challenger.

Petter Solberg just pipped Matias Ekstrom to victory at Lydden last year and it looked like he would do the same again in 2016, with Solberg falling just short of a perfect set of qualifying races and absolutely blitzing the field in his semi-final. Ekstrom is a wily opponent though and in the final he edged out Petter by the narrowest of margins to take his third successive win of the season.

There were a plethora of Americas finest to ogle at American Speedfest IV but, for the second year in a row, it was the brutal Formula 5000 machinery that stole the show for me. The raw simplicity of these cars illustrates everything that is wrong with the current crop of premier open wheel racing cars.

I was unable to get my Le Mans fix in 2015 and the withdrawal hit me hard, so I was desperate not to miss out again in 2016. Le Mans never fails to disappoint and there was close racing throughout the classes, however it was the fight in LMP1 that proved most memorable. 12 hours in and the top three were just seconds apart. In the latter stages of the race the number 5 Toyota managed to stretch out a slim lead and victory looked assured…

…but with just 6 minutes to go, the TS050 began to slow, before grinding to a halt by the pit wall. The ending of the 2016 24 hours of Le Mans was absolutely heart breaking to watch, where even rival teams expressed sympathy for the distraught Japanese manufacturer. Still, although Porsche may have stood on the top step of the podium, the unclassified Toyota is the car I’ll remember.

My list of “must see” car shows has slowly dwindled over the years, but the Festival of Speed is one of the few exceptions. Even after a decade of attendance, I still cite it as an essential weekend for any motorsport fan. Virtually every discipline is represented in some form and, whatever your preference, I guarantee there will be at least one vehicle there to excite you.

As the car that ignited my passion for motorsport, watching Ryan Champion slide his Group A Impreza around the (critically underrated) Goodwood Forest Rally Stage was my personal highlight of the day. I’m sure many people in attendance were cursing the grey skies, but as the precipitation greatly reduced the grips levels on the rally stage, I was silently praising the wet stuff.

I considered myself very fortunate to get an invitation to the inaugural 6R4.net track day in 2015, so I was flattered to be invited back again in 2016. The formula of the event remained largely unchanged from 2015 but, given how much I had enjoyed that, I wasn’t complaining!

Heavy showers during the afternoon did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the drivers and the cars continued to run in the driving rain. It was a privilege to be able to watch the owners put these valuable classics through their paces and I was especially grateful to them for continuing to show off despite the slippery track conditions.

The August Bank Holiday round of the British Rallycross Championship has been a mainstay of my annual motorsport agenda for a decade now and, as long as it continues to deliver great racing, rallycross will always be my priority.

Proving that his win at round 2 was no fluke, Dan Rooke took a lights-to-flag victory in the Supercar final at round 6. Rooke maintained his form at the subsequent round of the Championship, where he claimed second place and, with it, the 2016 British Rallycross Championship. Dan is the youngest ever driver to take the British Championship and I hope we see him back to defend his title – and perhaps even challenge some of Europe’s finest – in 2017.

As the World Rallycross Championship passed its midpoint, the Championship battle was impossible to call. Petter Solberg arrived at round 8 in Loheac as the points leader, but he was unable to match the pace of his closest rival, Mattias Ekstrom, and by the end of the qualification stage Ekstrom had reduced the point deficit between the title rivals to zero.

Neither Ekstrom nor Solberg would set foot on the podium though. With Ekstrom failing to make it past the semi-final stage, Johan Kristoffersson fended off all challengers and led the final from start to finish. The damp conditions produced the best days racing I have seen at Loheac and made for a great conclusion to my World Rallycross Championship attendance in 2016.

World Rallycross weekends have consistently been the highlight of my motorsport expeditions over the last few years and I’m desperate to fit as many of them as possible into 2017.

As the summer drew to a close, it became apparent that my year had been rather lacking in two wheeled motorsport, but a trip to Swingfield in September was to rectify that. Not only was I able to check out some very sideways motorcycles, but the program at the European Grasstrack Final also incorporated two classes of sidecars as well.

The solo riders were fantastic to watch, but it was the sidecars that made the biggest impression. Watching a 1000cc sidecar tearing up a field is an incredible spectacle and I am certain that my first visit to a grasstrack event won’t be my last.

With the end of the season looming, I had just enough time left to sneak a visit in to my most local motocross track, Canada Heights, for the final round of the British Sidecarcross and Quad Championship. The sidecars here may not have been quite as rapid (or sideways) as their grasstrack counterparts, but what they lacked in speed they made up for with altitude.

However the highest fliers of the day were undoubtedly the quad riders. I briefly rode a quad on the flat and felt that a trip to casualty was an inevitability, so I have a great deal of respect for the British Quad Championship riders. Flinging a quad through the trees is a tricky task in itself: and that is before you factor in the other 30 lunatics all trying to do the same thing!

My final outing of the year was a slight deviation to the norm in that it concerned virtual, rather than physical, racing. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to drop into Codemasters studio in Southam and I returned again in late November for another behind the scenes look at proceedings.  Much awesomeness was demonstrated and many cool things were seen: but that’s about all I’m legally allowed to tell you!

Despite containing far less motoring content than I would have liked, 2016 has definitely been a year where quality has triumphed over quantity. When compiling end-of-year reviews in the past I have often omitted events that have fallen short of my expectations, but everything I attended this year has seemed worthy of mention.

Typically I would bemoan the lack of motorsport over the winter, but I’m actually rather grateful for it this year: the more work I can do during the quiet spell now, the more events I should be able to fit into 2017!

 

Want to see more? Click here for the full albums from 2016.

Event

6R4.net Track Day – Curborough

18th July 2016 — by Steve White

ZZZZZZZZZFL300-MG-Metro-6R4-Dennis-Jellett-960x640.jpg

 “Beginners luck” is an expression I’m sure most are familiar with and something that everyone is sure to have experienced at least once in their life. Sometimes things just fall into place on the first attempt and, no matter how hard you try to duplicate the same conditions, the results are never as good.

It was the notion of beginners luck that was foremost on my mind as I began the long trek North to Curborough Sprint Circuit for the second 6R4.net track day. Last year’s inaugural 6R4.net meet was unquestionably one of my personal highlights of 2015 and rated among the most enjoyable days I have ever spent at a track. I had zero expectations for last year’s event though and, with the bar raised so high, could a repeat event prove as memorable?

The allocation of invitations in 2015 had been carefully monitored and, although not everyone invited had been directly connected to the individual drivers or cars, all shared a strong passion for rally cars, especially the boxy hatchback from Longbridge. The result was a day that straddled a fine line between enthusiast’s convention and club track day.

Speaking to 6R4.net event organiser Nicky Lindon before the event, it was clear that retaining the balance of  last years event had weighed heavily on his mind. Although there was a strong temptation to open the doors to a wider audience, doing so would clearly have resulted in a very different day. By sticking to the same format as before, the relaxed atmosphere for both drivers and spectators would be preserved.

Upon arrival at Curborough something that quickly became apparent was an increased air of confidence from the organisation team. I mean that in an entirely positive sense as, when I first arrived at last year’s event, there was clearly concern that some – or perhaps even none – of the drivers who had expressed an interest in the track day would actually show up. Thankfully many of them did and, after the success of 2015, a strong turnout seemed assured this time around.

With a basic event structure established last year, more attention had been paid to the little details for 2016. The circuit configuration was better defined to drivers, cars heading onto track were now individually numbered for ease of identification, programmes were issued to everyone and (most importantly I would say) bacon sandwiches were now available on site. These were all minor improvements, but all served to make the experience that much more enjoyable.

The familiarity of proceedings (or perhaps it was the bacon sandwiches) seemed to put the owners at ease as well. Some drivers had seemed hesitant to christen the track in 2015, but there were no signs of reluctance this year. Cars were on track from the moment the circuit opened right up to the minute the gate was closed. There seemed to be a lot more enthusiastic driving this time as well, with many drivers making the most of the wide exit on Fradley Hairpin.

In the weeks building up to the track day I had been tipped off that a handful of non-MG’s would once again be invited in order to add a bit of variety to the paddock. However I had wrongly assumed that these would all be Group B cars, thus I was rather surprised to see an icon of the Group 4 era unloading in the paddock.

The Lancia Stratos is one of the great shapes of rallying and Nigel Wilkinson’s replica looked absolutely stunning. I thought the choice of colours was absolutely spot on, with the white, red and green scheme reminiscent enough of the famous Alitalia livery to seem familiar, but different enough to give the car it’s own unique look.

After an overcast morning and a brief spell of sunshine during lunch, the skies turned grey and the track was saturated by rain. Given the rarity of the cars in attendance (and the fact that most of them were shod with slick tyres) I had been expecting things to go quiet once it got damp. These owners had bought their cars along to drive though and, despite the heavy precipitation, that’s exactly what they carried on doing.

With a steady flow of cars on circuit throughout the afternoon, I quickly lost track of time and, when I realized how late in the day it was, I had run out of time to roam around the paddock and pester drivers for a passenger ride. Fortunately owner David Seaton happened to spot me trackside and, despite being saturated from the rain showers, offered me the passenger seat of his RS200S. My long standing love affair with the RS200 is something I touched on in my last blog  and, after experiencing the passenger seat of a competition specification RS200 at last year’s event, I was very interested to see how the road version compared.

Considering the road variant of a Group B car purely by it’s numbers and you could be forgiven for being a little underwhelmed. 300 BHP certainly isn’t anything to be sniffed at, but it’s far from an unobtainable power figure by modern standards. Judging these cars on numbers alone is rather missing the point though. The production versions may sport interior trim and carpets, but that doesn’t disguise the fact these are raw competition machines at heart.

Yes, you could go out and buy a car tomorrow with similar power figures, but nothing available in a showroom can offer you the same motorsport pedigree. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the expression “race car for the road” used in marketing blurb, but said cars will always be based on compromise. Merely road cars with some race inspired extras tacked on. The Group B era was a rare moment in time, when the race car came first and the showroom model played second fiddle.

On the subject of race cars on the road, it would be rude not to mention Rob Hill. Rob was one of the most entertaining drivers on track during the inaugural 6R4.net gathering, so I was glad to see him back again for 2016. As with last year Rob drove his car to the circuit, gave it a damn good thrashing on track and then drove it back home again at the end of the day.

As committed as Rob was, Mark Holmes had to take this year’s prize for most entertaining driver of the day. Wet or dry I don’t think Mark drove a single run without at least one big slide. I am appreciative to all the owners for showing their cars off, but I am particularly grateful to those who are willing to push them up to (and occasionally beyond!) their limit.

Sequels that are better than the original are a rare thing, but I thought the chaps at 6R4.net absolutely nailed it. Although it would have been fantastic for more people to be able to experience the event, opening the gates to the public would have immediately changed the atmosphere, effectively turning a unique track day into just another car show.

So can they master the challenge of the difficult third album and make it three in a row? Fingers crossed that I will get an invitation again next year to see for myself!

Want to see more of the Metro 6R4 track day? Click here for a full image gallery,

Event

AwesomeBoss 2016 Gallery

3rd July 2016 — by Andi Gordon

AwsomeBOSS-3294

Not every event is a blog. Some just don’t have the substance to do any kind of reporting on, or offer opinion. Some events it’s difficult to get the vibe of. Some events you just want to take pictures and not bother about all that other stuff. AwesomeBoss 2016 at Driftland is an event I don’t think I can do a blog on, but I did take a bunch of pictures, and here they are….

AwsomeBOSS-2081
AwsomeBOSS-1429
AwsomeBOSS-1373
AwsomeBOSS-3292
AwsomeBOSS-3821
AwsomeBOSS-3134
AwsomeBOSS-2948
AwsomeBOSS-4143
AwsomeBOSS-1593
AwsomeBOSS-3224
AwsomeBOSS-3115
AwsomeBOSS-2716
AwsomeBOSS-2918
AwsomeBOSS-2550
AwsomeBOSS-3432
AwsomeBOSS-2474
AwsomeBOSS-2659
AwsomeBOSS-2424
AwsomeBOSS-3319
AwsomeBOSS-2239
AwsomeBOSS-2379
AwsomeBOSS-2737
AwsomeBOSS-3072
AwsomeBOSS-3158
AwsomeBOSS-3813
AwsomeBOSS-2761
AwsomeBOSS-2273
AwsomeBOSS-2574
AwsomeBOSS-3175
AwsomeBOSS-2604
AwsomeBOSS-3455
AwsomeBOSS-3373
AwsomeBOSS-1856
AwsomeBOSS-3468
AwsomeBOSS-1188
AwsomeBOSS-2398
AwsomeBOSS-3263
AwsomeBOSS-2571
AwsomeBOSS-1940
AwsomeBOSS-2557
AwsomeBOSS-3015
AwsomeBOSS-1453
AwsomeBOSS-3895
AwsomeBOSS-3388
AwsomeBOSS-1842
AwsomeBOSS-3294
AwsomeBOSS-3459
AwsomeBOSS-3903
AwsomeBOSS-3675
AwsomeBOSS-2460

Event

Drift AllStars Rnd1 – Middle East

1st June 2016 — by Dan Fegent

AG2O0820-960x529.jpg

Drifting can take you to some amazing places and there is no place more awe-inspiring than under the floodlights of the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

The F1 circuit is iconic, it might not be steeped in years of motorsport ghosts and tales of yesterday, but none the less it’s one that has a certain charm and distinguished look and feel. So, when we heard that the first round of Drift Allstars had tee’d up the venue as the start of it’s World Championship we had to make sure we got along to capture the action.

In a field of over 30 drivers made up from international & locals, names that would jump out on the entry sheet where, Ireland’s Nigel Colfer, Norway’s Fredrik Øksnevad and UK’s Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni, the UAE team of Lunatics By Nature ( Sultan Al Qassimi, Khalifa Sultan & Dany Neville), Kuwait’s Ali Makhseed and Jordan’s Ahmad Daham.

As the golden haze of natural sunlight faded, the floodlit track formed the battle ground and those who’d headed out were in for a treat! It was UK’s Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni that took the number 1 qualifier position as he and his newly LS powered S13 took to the fast paced circuit with ease, with the first place qualifier also coming in with a direct buy into the great 8 and facing his first battle against the impressive Ali Makhseed.

However, It was local driver, Sultan Al Qassimi that looked to be on point in his distinguished looking Nissan S14, however it was an incredibly tight battle with Fredrik Øksnevad that ended his campaign to move on any further into the competition. Fredrik pitched an onslaught in his Tri-Ace V8 Soarer, but when he met Baggsy in the Semi Finals he just couldn’t match that of the UK wheelman.

Real drama on the black-top came from Nigel Colfer and Ahmad Daham – the two drivers ran incredibly hard, they had contact as they pushed on each other through their battles and the judges struggled to make a decision calling One More Time (OMT) twice. However, it was the crowd’s favourite, Daham, in his 900hp Nissan S15 that would nudge the win over Colfer and progress to take on Baggsy in the final.

The final also didn’t come without drama for Daham. Calling a five minute rule, the team scrabbled about to make some adjustments to his car before facing the Monster Energy S13 of Biagioni. Making the line and the start Baggsy kept a fast clean line and pulled a huge leading gap on Daham and a massive advantage into the chase run. Daham’s car maybe still with issues was no match this weekend and the chase run was a formality passing the podium to the UK diver. Nigel Colfer would join them on the top spot in third place and the closing ceremony of the first round of Drift Allstars. We’re looking forward to round two and seeing who will bring the heat