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Spanish paddock , part 1/2

28th June 2017 — by Ruben Langa

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A short walk along the spanish drift paddock. Cars, drivers and battle for the first podium spot.

The Spanish paddock grows at a speed that is impossible to follow. This year I have attended two rounds of Open Slalom Drift, our national competition, one in Miranda de Ebro and another in Valencia. In parallel with the second round, the infamous King of Europe. The progression is very clear in the improvement of the cars and drivers.

The first improvement are the categories AM and Semipro. Here, these categories comprise of stock cars which has created a rivalry between atmospheric and turbo that has been forged with time. In the first round, the podium was for naturally aspirated BMW’s, Aitor Galan , followed by Diego Sáez and in third, Aitor Sánchez.

The PRO category is booked on cars with swap, wide direction angle, bodywork of fibre, etc. All types of projects where we found the guys from Drifting Barcelona, a BMW orda with V8 engines. These included Oscar Ruiz’s Subaru Viper, a pilot who has greatly improved in the past two years and Jonathan Hernandez, champion of the OSD last year riding on the spectacular e46 LS (white). 

If we go by the paddock, our attention is immediately drawn to the brothers Caballer, Joan drives a s13 RB25 (white/blue), second last year in OSD, in his Palm can be proud of his second place in the Spanish round of the KOE 3 years ago. Xavier leads a s13 ca18 in Semipro and his driving skills grows day by the day.

If we look for brothers, we find the Angels Team Drift , Ivan Bolaños in SEMIPRO with an e36 M3 and Ruben Bolaños in PRO with an e46 2JZ(white/orange). Ruben came up to the second spot on the podium in Miranda de Ebro after some of the tightest battles that I have seen in a while. 

One of the most established of veterans is Alberto Canedo, facing monsters like the previous ones with an e30 M3 Enekos since my first time on a circuit, below the average of horses but compensating with spectacular driving.

 No more than two steps in and we can find the winner of the first Round, David Infantes. He is a veteran of the Championship, driving an s13 by a small circuit school close to Igualada. One day he surprised me with a PS13 LS (black/green/white). Personally this is one of the best car/pilot combos in that paddock, I couldn’t take as many photos as I would’ve liked because he lives away of my town but he is my favorite for this season. 

Check back very soon for the second part of my coverage with more pilots and photos of the last two Rounds including the King Of Europe.

Bonus pics:

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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!

Reviews

The GT1 GTR at Coventry MotoFest

19th June 2017 — by Dave Cox

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It is always fascinating when you send a team of photographers to an event and see what they all capture.

Variety is often the result, occasionally though, we will all gravitate to one vehicle. It’s the same at car shows too. However in this instance, it wasn’t what the car looked like that caught our attention, it was something much, MUCH more primal.

The car in question, if you have not worked it out by now, is a Nissan GTR GT1 and it is quite clearly a racecar! To most, that is reason alone to make it a favourite and it is, but we will circle back to that in a second. You see, as we walked down blissfully quiet Coventry ring road, the silence was, and there is no other better way to describe it, shattered by the eruption of decibels from the Nissan VK56 that powers this FIA spec GTR.

5.6 litres of free breathing V8 labouring under heavy cams and sucking in air before detonating and shouting it out of the straight through exhaust. I nearly dropped my camera as it started up. It wasn’t so much announcing it’s presence as elbowing everyone out of the way and fighting it’s way through.

600bhp and 479ft-lb of torque certainly made light work of the rear tyres off of the line as well as reducing anyone in close proximity to a giggling wreck. Given that this car also weighs in at 1250kg, it didn’t hang around. And it was this sheer pantomime that really stole our hearts and brings me back to my earlier point about it being race car.

Not only was this silly fast and loud but it was also driving on a ring road! The juxtaposition is literally at it’s most extreme here. Race car + ring road, it is hilarious to look at. At a proper track, you might walk past it in the pits and briefly pause before continuing on, on the streets, it is just ludicrous!

What did you think? Did you see it?

Words: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)
Pictures: Fueltopia Team


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