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Event

Sunshine and Tyre Smoke

21st June 2017 — by Ben Gaut

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The day before Drift Cup Round 3 was an invite-only practice day at Rockingham Race Way. For me, this was my first time ascending on Rockingham but I had heard amazing things from fellow Fueltographer Shooting Dave. I was so hyped to get down and see what it was all about. Being the second practice day I had shot this year, I was ready to see some action!

Now it’s safe to say the weather was the polar opposite of when I had my first outing of the year, it looked like I had traded in the snow and freezing temperatures for some amazing sunshine and a full on heat wave! Perfect for some smoky door to door action!

The main man behind Drift Cup ‘Sweeps’ had laid out a seriously awesome track which was perfect for the drivers. He also threw in a few hard hitting walls for good measure. It’s safe to say I didn’t see a single car without a dent in their rear quarters by lunch time, everyone was gunning for them. Just gradually edging closer and closer, before well you know the story!

The driving was on a whole different level, some of the best drift trains I have seen in the UK for a while outside of a show demo or major event!

As the weather stayed on our side and just got hotter and hotter, so I thought I would take the time to get off track side and out of the oven and into some cars and see how the track felt from the drivers perspective. It certainly didn’t disappoint, everyone was hunting for doors and pushing their cars to the absolute limit!

I managed to jump out with Monkey London, now this was an experience in itself, if you haven’t already, then do head over & check out his youtube channel. However I am telling you now, jumping in the car was like I had just stepped into a drifting documentary with David Attenborough! I then looked to my left to see Phil Morrison from Driftworks, hunting down my door and the adrenaline kicked in. I had only one option, to do what I do best, grab the camera and start firing.

The Practice day also meant that some of the Drift Cup drivers could get a day on track before the big event the following day and you could see for some of them just having that extra seat time really pulled through on the Sunday!

Now for me, I am pretty much out of words for this one – but thank you Sweeps and the team for an awesome day. Below are some more snaps from the day.

Event

‘Grass Roots’ At Drift Cup Round 3

21st June 2017 — by Ben Gaut

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Sun, Smoke, Walls, Battles and even a proposal! That’s right a proposal but I will get on to that later, Drift Cup Round 3 had it all! 

As this was my first Drift Cup event, I had heard mixed things about the series from both drivers & a plethora of random people throwing in their two cents. This aside, I went in with a clean slate to see what it was all about for myself. I dragged myself out of my comfy hotel room, grabbed a coffee + croissant and headed to the track. With the guys from Drift Cup having run an invite only practice day on the Saturday which you can read about here! It’s safe to say I wasn’t going to be disappointed by what was in store and had a good idea of what to expect!

The level of driving from what is classed as a ‘grass roots’ event was just insane, door to door action all day, non stop! Throw in a couple of walls as they make their way round just to up the ante that little bit more. I don’t think a single person drove away with a pristine rear quarter.

Open practice was running all morning for the drivers to get used to the track, With the sun beating down it truly was a smoky morning! From watching the practice you could see everyone was hungry for that number one spot!

Moving into qualifying the driver level just stepped up even further, was seriously blown away with the lowest score in the top 32 being a 68.5!

With qualifying over we heading into the driver briefing room to hear the feedback and find out who would be battling who. This is where the shock of the day happened, after everyone knew what was going on for the day ahead, Frazer Jamieson wanted to say a few words, little did we know he got down on one knee and proposed to his other half as the whole room erupted in a huge cheer! This is what drifting is about, it doesn’t matter if you make the final battle just being there and supporting all your fellow drivers in everything they do. Was a real moment and memory for all the drivers and staff there and of course the happy couple!

Jumping straight to the battles, the fight and pressure was on, everyone was driving to win! The pressure and talent was on a whole different scale, everyone wanted that podium spot not a single person was holding back.

Leading into the top 16 things started to get really interesting, With everyone from the top 8 being given the chance to drive at the eagerly awaited BDC street round! It’s safe to say the heat and battle was well and truly on!   I for one would have not liked to be sitting in the judging tower trying to call some of the battles!

Top 8 WOW, the hunger was unreal with drivers putting everything on the line and hunting the walls and doors of the lead like nothing I have seen from before in ‘grass roots’ drifting!

Now it came down to the final battles. The drivers showed no signs of stopping the fight for that top spot! It was bound to be an awesome show and they certainly didn’t disappoint!! The final battles were seriously something incredible with both the crowd, judges and commentators on their feet screaming the house down.

Oliver Bolton took the win is his awesome S13, bearing in mind he’s only been driving the car 3 months and this was his 3rd competitive event, safe to say we have a star in the making here on English soil! Time for the Irish to move to one side this is one to watch!

I would just like to finish off by saying a massive thank you to Sweeps and the team over at Drift Cup for putting on a seriously epic event! Entertainment value and driver skill was through the roof, more than enough to rival some of the biggest names in competitive drifting!

Event

Coventry MotoFest

12th June 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Coventry MotoFest, an annual festival celebrating the region’s historic motoring heritage in the heart of Coventry on public roads! And this year it has been touted as being the biggest and best yet!

Let that sink in for a moment though, “public roads”?! Yep, think Monaco, take away the sea, double the size and slap on a West Midlands accent and you’re pretty much there. In some ways, you have surpassed that, if Formula 1 isn’t your bag then you can see cars ranging from student built racers to drift cars right the way through to rock crawlers or GT1 cars. The variety is simply staggering, you are in constant limbo of staying still as you don’t know what will come past next or moving on for fear of missing something going on elsewhere.

Add to the fact that we, as press, were walking down what was essentially a hot pit lane which is located on top of an elevated dual carriage-way, crowds were lining slip roads and cross overs using the landscape as some sort of amphitheatre. It was utterly bizarre and brilliant all the same, I for one had never experienced anything like it in my life. Under one of the fly overs was a converted car park which was home to our Formula G demonstrations as well as Drift Outlaws. Think Tokyo Drift but with less spinners and chrome, that’s what went down there.

The crowd for our demonstrations was immense, we had people lined up against the concrete guard rails, phones held high to get a snap of the action. The flyover not only held the smoke down but also provided a ceiling for the engine noises to bounce off of which only pumped the crowd even more. It is little unique touches like this that makes Coventry MotoFest so special.

Did I mention that this was a free event?

No entry fee to pay here, just rock up, watch some demonstrations, see some sprint racing, salivate over the display stands or chill out with some great food and live music. And that is the key, it is all very good attracting motoring enthusiasts to attend, we will drive hours and even fly to events just see the action. Attracting new fans is a difficult job, track tickets can be expensive, but here, passer-by’s could turn up and be present with a mixed bag of disciplines to experience.

To me, that reinforces what Coventry MotoFest is about, it is a celebration of the heritage and a way of showcasing it to those who would never considering handing well earned beer tokens for an entry to an event like this. The really isn’t a better way for the uninitiated to dip their toe in and see what they like.

The largest part of the event was the sprint section which followed the ring road for two junctions before turning back on itself and doing it all over again. The start line was a great place to stand with many drivers going for big rolling burnouts rewarding the baying crown with the smell of fuel and burnt rubber.

But nothing really beats the audio sensory overload as you wait near the exit of a tunnel being filled by the orchestra of a vintage Formula 1 car. That really is hair raising stuff.

Sure, this isn’t at the same sort of scale as Goliaths Goodwood Festival of Speed but it isn’t really claiming to be either. MotoFest has much more of a planted feel to it, rather than going to see it, it bring the action to your doorstep and has the audacity to do it in a City, a fact I still can’t get over. There is a beautiful juxtaposition here, purpose built track monsters driving on public roads, to me that is my favourite aspect of it. It feels so right but when you step back and look at it all, it seems so alien. They are racing in a city!

And the lofty ambitions don’t stop there, the organisers are in talks with the council to have a proper race inside the city next year! We haven’t seen anything like this since Birmingham SuperPrix or before that, if my history serves me well, the Crystal Palace GrandPrix. We need more of this and I can’t wait to see how this event continues to grow.

This was my first time attending and I had never heard of it before, it wasn’t even on my radar. That has now changed. It has been going for 4 years, 3 in this current format and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I feel there is an importance to writing this article, more people need to witness this event, not to support it, rather that it is simply too good to miss. More people need to know.

Words: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)
Pictures: Fueltopia Team: Phil, Mike, Craig, Dave, Kim & Ben.

Event

Gymkhana Giants take back the podium

16th May 2017 — by Fueltopia Events

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This Sunday a new track was laid out at Santa Pod Raceway and 29 drivers came to master it.

A mornings practice soon dried out the wet track from the downpour overnight, with times dropping rapidly as drivers learnt the track line.

Once more we had some first timers join the field and it didn’t take long for them to show that they had true skill and would be contenders when it came to the battles

Our smallest class had regular auto test driver Carl Harper join us in his Vauxhall Nova, which in all the tracks twists and turns spent more time on three wheels than four! He showed great skill and speed setting the fastest qualifying time but unfortunately loosing out in the finals by over shooting the stop box and gaining a DNF to see series veteran Sean Franklin take the top spot.

The Biddle brothers were joined again in our Unlimited class by Mark Elder for round 3 and it was great to see him really pushing the brothers and knocking down his track PB all day. In qualifying Andy Biddle took the top spot with a 33.1 second run.  In a battle for the spot against him in the final Mark took on Nick in their closest battle to date, with Mark knocking another second of his track PB. It was nick however to face off once more against Andy, with Andy eventually taking the top spot.

Marks efforts however had not gone unnoticed by our Hard Charger Jury, who awarded him with recognition to how much his driving improved throughout the day.

The AWD class qualifying couldn’t have been closer so it was all to play for in the knockouts. Reigning champion Dmitrij Sribnyj hadn’t had a great start to the season so far, with mechanical issues leaving him off that top spot that he has grown used too,  and a new standard engine replacement required after complete failure at a recent event, but he topped qualifying giving him a bye straight into the semi finals.

The rest of the class went head to head and Dmitrij was soon joined by Andrew Stevens, Jonathan Buck and Yordan Andreev, all of whom have been on the podium already this season.

With a tight course and pressure running high, lots of penalties accumulated and it wasn’t always the first in the box taking the win

A battle for 3rd and 4th between Andy Stevens and Jonathan Buck, see both drivers pick up a penalty on their runs in the left lane, with Bucky taking the last spot on the podium.

The final between current championship leader Yordan Andreev and ScoobyClinic driver Dmitrij should have been a close battle but once again, Sribnyj showed us all why he is the Gymkhana champ and dropped both his runs to 32 seconds storming over the finish clearly ahead of his competitor.

Rear wheel hosts our biggest class and we battle from the top 16 of the day. 6 seconds split the top from the bottom in qualifying with Luke Woodham taking the fastest time by 0.5 seconds over Adam Elder who was currently sitting at the top of the 2017 championship after taking the win at round 2 when Woodham overshot the stop box in the final.

As we worked through the battles we saw high powered S bodies take on the quick and nimble field of MX5s proving power is not everything when it comes to mastering Gymkhana.

A top 8 battle between Mike Newland and Ryan Milton proved just this with just 0.6 seconds splitting the two over the two runs, until the times are added no one can tell by eye who would have taken the win, but it was Ryan who went into the Semis this time

A closer battle ensued between Philip Staniford in his MX5 and Mantas Sliogeris in his Honda s2000 with just 0.08 seconds splitting the two drivers.

The semi finals were made up of 2 MX5s vs 2 s14s, and it was here we see Ryan Milton retire due to a broken drive shaft, giving Elder the spot in the final against Woodham and an automatic award of 3rd place to Philip Staniford. Never the way we want to see final battles go but we know Ryan will get it fixed and will be fighting once more for those podium spots at round 4.

So the final was one we have seen many times before, and after his mistake at round 2 Luke was ready to make this one count and take back that top spot and £100 Nankang cheque. His driving from run one in practice had been on point all day, showing the field why he is three time European and 2016 Formula G Gymkhana champion.

Pressure on Adam was high, these guys have faced off many times and this is all about all important championship points and bragging rights! This round was Luke’s for the taking with a 4 second lead overall after Adam picked up a penalty hitting a cone in the right lane. This has now pushed Woodham up from 4th to first in the championship, with Adam on his heels with 1 point to catch him, we have a feeling this is going to right to the final round this year.

As usual all drivers rallied around for the podium presentations and champagne fights! See you all at Rockingham for Round 4 of the championship on Sunday 30th July. Tickets are available on the store now

 

 

Event

Young gun takes on the Quick Draw

16th March 2017 — by Fueltopia Events

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It’s a first for Formula G but in attempts to make motorsport accessible to all, we are for the first time opening our doors to the unlicensed and that means a young lad making noise in Scotland can make his way down south for his first outing on the Formula G track in his 1.8cc Mazda MX5.

We are excited to see Ben Dryburgh take to the track this weekend and show that a 14-year-old can take on the obstacles just as well as his dad Alan, who took on the Gymkhana Grid Gauntlet finals in 2016.

Bens MX5 has been built especially for him to compete this season and he was truly gutted to not have it 100% for the first Barrel Sprint and Formula G rounds at the beginning of March. However freshly fitted with a new ECU, Bens fully prepared to join the fleet of MX5s, now leading in the gymkhana championship.

This however wont be Bens first outing, having competed all last year in the Scottish Gymkhana Cup, driving regular Formula G driver Adam Elders Nissan  S14 and taking third place in the championship and being named Best Drifter by Fast Car magazine at Crail last year driving his dads 650BHP Supra.

Ben will be competing in as many Barrel Sprint and Formula G events as he can this season, making him not only the youngest competitor in the field but also the furthest to travel.  We hope many will come out to show support to our newest competitor.

For others looking to get involved in both the Barrel Sprint and Formula G please contact event manager, Becci Gilbert, at  becci@fueltopia.co.uk who will help you with all the necessary details for entry.

Photos provided by Ben Dryburgh