Purpose Built Barrel Hunter

28th February 2017 — by Dave Cox


At the time of writing, we are just days away from the beginning of the 2017 Fueltopia Barrel Sprint season. Test & Registration day has been and gone and we take this brief gap to bring you a close look at Mike Newland’s new purpose built barrel sprint s13.

This is not Mike’s first rodeo either previously he had a purpose built S14. A car that Mike has competed in for the last 4 years and spent tireless hours and effort developing. Sadly the S14 met it’s demise at Coventry MotorFest when it made a firm introduction with a concrete pillar underneath the ring roads. When life deals you such a poor hand it can be hard to get back on your feet.

Motorsport is high risk, leaving many grass roots racers with two options, All or Nothing. The impact the S14 had sustained was too much, the chassis was completely folded underneath the car meaning that it would sadly be beyond repair. For someone who had invested all they had into a sport they love the result was pretty crushing. Thankfully that was the extent of the damage, pretty much everything could be salvaged.

An S13 was sourced and Mark Young at Japs Motorsport set to work sand blasting the fresh shell before seam welding and inserting a full cage in preparation for transplanted parts. The decision to go for an S13 instead of an S14 was to step away from the norm on the field. Rear wheel drive class in Barrel Sprint is pretty much dominated by MX5’s and S14’s so Mike felt the need to provide a different body to keep things interesting.

Mark took a staggering 7 days to complete the transformation from a bare shell. I will let that sink in for a little bit. In an era where builds are getting turned around for shows in ever decreasing times, this is incredible. Not to mention that this isn’t a show car, this is a purpose built race car and it is fully functional! I have struggled to make decisions in 7 days, let alone build and complete a car.

The exterior also got a refresh thanks to Sussex Wrap Studio which closely mimics the colours scheme of the S14 as well keeping in line with the team colours.

After all the work was completed, the car was unveiled at the Wembley Qualifier for GRiD last year. Where unfortunately due to a lack of testing due to time constraints the car was fighting with him and not behaving herself. Due to this Mike came in 3rd place missing his spot at GRiD. Disappointing for Mike but still very impressive for anyone else.

The eagle eyed amongst you would have noticed that the lines of this S13 are slightly off, that is because the rear glass hatch has been removed and replaced with fibreglass flat bed. This was done to primarily reduce weight and lower the centre of gravity keeping the car light and nimble or “Smimble” as Mike affectionately calls it (Small and Nimble).

The obsessive weight loss spreads further than just the rear hatch, the bonnet is single skin fibre glass too,

The interior of the car is a spartan yet functional place to sit. A flocked dash obscured only by an OMP steering wheel houses minimal switch gear whilst a hydro setup help get the car round the barrels. Whilst a Corbeau seat helps keep the driver in place.  An Android dash allows Mike to customise what he monitors, keeping only the essential information on display.

As mentioned before, many of the components were transplanted over to the new chassis. Gold wrapping around the intake pipes help keep engine temperatures down. Mike is however developing a new expansion system to help lower intake temperatures and keep them constant which will mean he can go more aggressive on the map. Given that the car is already making 385bhp on a Nispro tune, it will be pretty lively.

Frustrated with his performance at the Qualifier, Mike sent the car to Walton Smith at Nispro to get the car’s alignment dialled in. This proved a wise choice as during the next FBS round, he beat his personal best time and then went on to finish 2nd in the championship.

I keep teasing Mike about the reverse rake of the car saying “just lower the front by a foot and you’ll be fine!” But I am told this is to help with balance and turn in. Seeing as I am at very best a spirited driver, I shall shut up and stop poking fun. (Will I f*ck)

The car is littered with small considered details, I’m particularly fond of the KODE rivets that secure the over fenders and duck tail spoiler . There are other touches too, like the JDM painted spokes. All of this is colour coordinated to tie in the with wrap this car has.

“The test day was an eye opener, After changing the suspension and the cars setup in the off season, it felt totally different. But not in a good way, I couldn’t get to grips with the changes and was struggling to go at my normal pace. After lots of messing around and tweaking I got it set perfect and produced some very nice runs. New front tyres needed due to the increased rear grip since last year due to Nispro’s awesome new setup.”

It is clear that Mike has spent the last 4 years honing his skills and working out what kind of setup he wants from the car. Finishing 3rd in 2015, 2nd in 2016 it only makes sense that he is setting his sights on 1st for this season.

After watching him most of the day and getting really up close and personal, I have little reason to doubt that he will be in strong contention for the win. I wish him the best luck for the season ahead. If you fancy going down and seeing him in action for yourself then you can get tickets from here: Fueltopia Barrel Sprint

Words & Pictures; Dave Cox (SHOOTINGDAVE)


JAPS Motorsport
EBC Brakes
Adolescent Dogs
Advanced Lubricant Solutions
Dodo Juice
Just Jap
Infamous Creations
Sussex Wrap Studio


Owen Developements Turbo
EBC brakes all round
Seam welded chassis & Roll cage
Custom Corbeau bucket seat 5 point harnesses
Driftworks CS2 Coilovers
Custom cooling and intake setup by JAPS Motorsport
1 piece prop shaft
Wisefab rear setup
Geomaster front setup


The Abarth 124 Rally

25th January 2017 — by Dave Cox


There is something about Rally Cars that seems get under people’s skin. Perhaps it is the heritage and romance or just the raw pace and sounds. There is no denying, they have a broad appeal.


As I alluded to in our coverage of Autosport International I came across a special little car that stopped me in my tracks. Now I know there will be some of you expecting me to go on and talk about an aired out, wide body Ferrari or a gold Bugatti but I’m not. What I am talking about is a 1,8 litre Italian sports car built in Japan. But this car is really, rather special.


You see, it has been some 40 years since the original Abarth 124 Spider last competed in the 1976 Monte Carlo Rally and now it is back, dedicated to those who share the same challenge and racing values. This version is based on the Abarth 124 road car, the more aggressive version of Fiat’s 124. The Rally version has replaced the standard 1.4 turbo engine and replaced it with a 1.8 direct injection turbo engine. This adds a nice boost in power from 178bhp to 296bhp at 6500rpm!


Now we’re talking! Couple that to a quick 6-speed sequential gearbox and this red and yellow bar of soap is going to get lively real quick! Weight is biased towards the rear and it has quick steering and a mechanical limited slip-differential. So when it gets sideways, and it will, you can keep it there. Other changes have been to the exterior too, gone is the soft top and in is the new composite hard top to help keep the centre of gravity low.


I also really appreciate the styling tribute to the original Abarth 124. The colour scheme look as good now as it did back the, the yellow over fenders, the rally lights it is all lovingly recreated in memory of the original. It is this subtle detailing that really shows how much love there is for this sport. I adore this car, I really wish I could have seen it at the Monte Carlo Rally that happened this January.


What was your car of the show?

Words and Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)


Mellow Yellow – Rich’s S15

3rd July 2016 — by Dave Cox


Now before my baptism into drifting around 4 years ago, which is where I met Rich, I had never really seen, let alone heard of a Nissan S15. Admittedly there one was one early introduction in Fast & Furious but I hadn’t really stood next to one.


Rich bought his S15 just over a year ago now. It was imported from Japan, was fitted with air ride and had a standard SR20 mated to an automatic slush box and was intended to be another build for the now infamous Driftworks team. The project never got underway and Rich acquired the car through the business. Now with shelves full of drift spec parts and crates of Work Wheels coming in, it didn’t take too long for the cogs of inspiration to start turning.


The goal was simple, low and wide. First port of order was to tackle the “wide” portion of this build. This one done with some Origin Lab fender adding an extra 50mm in the rear and 40mm up front. The front are direct replacements but the rear are riveted into place with some fab work underneath.


40 and 50mm might not sounds like a lot but to me I think the difference is profound. Adding so much more drama to the rear and even tying it in with the OEM rear bumper looks great.


The vents behind the front wheel add that little bit of needed aggression too. During the build process, Rich decided to ditch the standard rear wing. A move that I think really works well. I actually think it looks more aggressive without it. You’ll have to take my word for it as I don’t have pictures of both.


To make the rear of the car feel less naked, Rich added in a roof spoiler, a clean an elegant addition I’d say. Standard lights were also swapped out for DMAX style rears.


Another import modification on there is the Fueltopia graphic! Who doesn’t want one of those?


Continuing on with the exterior modifications was the addition of a Origin Lab front bumper, the differences from the OEM version are subtle. Origin Labs here just take the standard formula and subtle aggressive tweaks along with new side skirts, really ties the look together.


Next on the agenda, the lows. Now I did mention that this was on air ride but Rich tells me that it was leaky and provided horrible ride quality so the bags were ditched in favour of some HSD coilovers giving him the ride comfort and adjustability he was looking for. I don’t want to get all scene on you but the fitment is on point, there is just enough clearance and having been in the car, it ride so well. Paired to the width of this car, it really has transformed the way it looks.


The 18″ Work Wheels Emotion CR2P (18×9 et-10 front – 18×11 et-0 rear) that were chosen for this car contrast the yellow paint work nicely. I was trying to think what other colour choice would go, black would contrast too much and possibly fade away compared to the yellow paint work. Other colour choices I think would run the risk of looking too garish. Maybe I’m wrong, white isn’t something I would normally go for but I think they are spot on here.


To keep the front wheels from rubbing when turning the OEM tension rods were swapped out for Geomasters, sitting the wheel better in the arch and offering better lock.


The interior is pretty much standard, with the original Japanese dash intact. Not sure he has any plans to tear into this one, maybe some comfy race seats. I really like how the Personal steering wheel matches the exterior colour.


I have followed this banana being built for just over a year now and I like to think that I have shared as much enthusiasm for this car as he has. I wouldn’t change a thing about the way it looks. Yellow isn’t my colour, at all. BUT I am really blown away by it. You can’t miss it. It just works so well.


Rich does have plans for upgrading the power portion of it as this is very much low and slow, there are talks of a Red top SR engine swap, I keep pushing him to go the V8 route but we shall see.


People kept wanting to see this thing and ask questions about it and I can see why. We shot most of this shoot up a Driftworks HQ but then we headed into central Birmingham to get some rolling shots. As I was hanging out of the side of the car, people were stopping and staring. At the car, not the idiot waving his camera around outside of the chase car.


It was nice to see it get so much attention, I couldn’t help but smile was we were following it into the city centre. It looks so wide and so low from behind. Originally I though the front of S15’s were their best feature, but now, seeing how this one sits, I have to think it is the rear.


Rolling shots over, we headed back to DW and waited for the sun to set to do some lit shots. All the while, I couldn’t help smile. Shoot done, it was time for beer. Cheers Rich, I love this car, I will even let you sell it to me (mates rates) once you’re done.


Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)



It’s A Bugeye Life

13th April 2016 — by Fueltopia


Photos & words by Dan Fegent

It’s not easy being ugly. Case in point right here, as when the bugeye Subaru Impreza rolled out of the factory as a follow up to the iconic ‘Classic’ shape, it was definitely an absolute clanger. Love it or hate it as the expression goes, well the truth is, most people hated it.

Like all of them that were hit with this ugly stick, this one has been bullied for its appearance its whole life. However now it doesn’t want to be pushed around anymore, its been juiced up & it’s ready to smash anyone that wants to have a giggle at its quirky looks. Viper Motorsport have created a monster.


The continued successes of Dmitrij Sribnyj & Jake Archer in the field of Gymkhana & the Fueltopia Barrel Sprint have not gone unnoticed. A mass of AWD drivers sprung up last year & rose to the challenge, taking the battle to the veterans. Of this rising legion many showed huge promise, one in particular being Matt Miller.

For someone who has taken to the competition so naturally you’d never have guessed that last year was actually his first year competitively behind the wheel. In fact we only recently featured last seasons car on the build up to the 2015 Gymkhana Grid finals. One year in & he’s hooked already. We can see clearly from looking at this build, he’s ready to upset some people.

This year he is back with a vengeance & the off season has allowed him & Viper Motorsport to create a 500bhp+ animal. We managed to get some words from Matt about the coming season “I want to race wherever I can with this build & I’ll be confident taking on anyone with this thing. Viper Motorsport built this car to rise to the challenge Gymkhana & FBS offers in the UK & Europe as a whole, I’ve had this built to claim the top spot, I want to beat Dmitrij (Sribnyj)”

We cannot wait to see this machine & Matt taking on the competition during this years season. With some awesome purpose built FBS & Gymkhana creations ready to go & some impressive builds still underway, the 2016 season is shaping up to be a huge one.


  • 2.1 Stroker producing 520bhp & 500ft/lbs of Torque.
  • Syvecs stand alone engine management.
  • Stand alone fuel system.
  • Precision turbo charger.
  • 1000cc injectors.
  • 6 speed gearbox.
  • Stage 3 exedy clutch.
  • Brembo Brake Calipers.
  • Ebc discs and pads.