This weekend saw the final round of the National SupaDrift series for 2017, as drivers from both the KZN & Gauteng regional series came together to battle it out for their spots on the podium for the National & Regional Championship.  It’s been a tough year for the drivers as many missed out on a few races during the season, resulting in them playing catch up during the year and pushing their skills & cars to the limits.

I arrived on the Friday afternoon went to go sign in with Wally Papas, whose always greets you with a friendly smile & typical Wally banter, before heading out to snap some of the practice.  The track layout seemed pretty fast in some areas with minimal areas of massive smoke, which doesn’t make for super great photos, I just have to say that… but it does allow for closer tandems as the chase cars wouldn’t have to rely too much on muscle memory as they chase through plumes of smoke to keep the battles close. Friday gave the drivers some time to hone in their skills, as Carnival City is a flat track with both long sweeps & quick switches.

Drivers like Paolo Gouveia, Jim Mc Farlane, Mikey Skelton & Jason Webb looked like they had no problems putting down the power during practice, with Paolo being one of the quickest out there on the Friday. However, Jason Webb who had just come back from rebuilding his MonStang after his crash at Port Shepstone & fresh off the Drift City event from the weekend before was pushing out some serious angels through the switches and powerful long drifts through the back areas. Sadly a little too much as he managed to break the lower control arm, luckily he felt this during practice & the control arms broke in the pits.

With Fridays practice out the way, drivers took the time to check their data and make the changes they would need to get in the best results the day & get the most out of their tyres as the fast course was taking its toll on the tyres, with some drivers only getting two or three runs in on a set; this is important as the power rules & tyre rules would be in full effect the next day.

Saturday & all drivers were in full battle mode as this would be the last chance for them to get those points & get to the all-important podium position. With a full morning of practice out the way, the drivers had one more chance to enter the Monster Energy Drum Dash & secure their “Golden Tickets” for the Ken Block Gymkhana GRiD  event happening at Carnival City on the 18th & 19th November. As drivers hit the course laid out, pitting their skills against the clock, five drivers managed to secure their spots.Mathys Naude, Rian Stokes, JP van der Spuy,  Stuart Gregory &  Clair Vale.

Drum Dash out the way it was finally time for the last qualifying of the 2017 season; last chance to make it count. As drivers went out one by one hoping to score the highest points necessary to secure their spots, sadly not all the drivers managed to score enough points to make it through, with drivers like Fayaaz Alibhai having serious engine problems & Zein Raiden having mechanical problems; which is sad as both drivers love this track. With only sixteen drivers making the cut, two drivers where left to compete in the Silver Cup; Jono van Eyssen & JP van der Spuy, with JP having engine problems in the first run, he withdrew & the win went to Jono van Eyssen aka “Drift Trooper”.

Top 16 time & this would be a very interesting chain of events as some of the races would pit friend against friend & driver against judges, as the lines would be draw & drivers would battle it out one last time. First up would be Jim Mc Farlane versus Claire Vale, with Clair having driveshaft issues and having to withdraw.  Next up would be Morne Venter versus Dewit Oosthuizen, with some close proximity, Morne managed to pull away & take the win.

Next up would see Jason Webb versus Mikey Skelton, a run that would see fans upset; sadly during qualifying Jason’s clutch had given up & he had to do the run with a broken clutch and this didn’t help things as Mikey Skelton managed to get away from him & take the win. Followed by that run we saw Vic Pardal up against Paolo Gouveia; this run was too close to call as judges had to result back to a TV replay & ended up giving the win to Paolo, much to Vic’s disapproval as he had felt he out drifted Paolo.

Next you would see Riaan Stokes versus Carl Werner, with Riaan taking the win, & the Eric van Essyen aka “The Viking” versus Stuart Gregory with Eric taking the win, followed by Armand Bronkhorst versus Gavin Puren, with the win going to Gavin.  Joey Govender went up against Mathys Naude and even though the runs were close, Mathys managed to take the win.

With the Top 16 out the way, it was time for the Top 8 and here things got a little more tight, with runs like Jim vs Morne & the battle between Paolo & Mikey, which was so close that a OMT was called & in the second run Mikey managed to straight line in the switch giving the win to Paolo. The rest of the round would see Riaan vs Eric, with Eric taking the win & Gavin vs Mathys with Gavin taking the win.

Top 4 time & this would see a dramatic battel between Jim Mc Farlane & Paolo Gouveia, a semi-final battel that had more than just a win to contend with, but an all-important National podium position, & with all of that on the line, the battle would see Jim take the win, with a very upset Paolo contesting the judges call, & after a very long deliberation from the judges, they stuck to their guns & the win was awarded to Jim. Gavin Puren would go up against Eric & once again, a too close to call run from both driver, with the win going to Gavin Puren.

 Down to the final two runs of the day, the Battle for Third & the FINAL battle for first…

Paolo Gouveia versus Eric the Viking! Two KZN drifters who would battle it out for that all important final podium for both their Regional & the National spot as these two were neck & neck on both list. First run out it seemed like Eric could just not shake could just not shake Paolo off with both drivers stuck to each other’s doors, & then the same for Paolo as Eric was in his door the whole run… however with the judges having yet another difficult result to call, & just to keep them in suspense they would only give the result at prize giving.

Final run of the day & battle for the number one spot on the podium, Jim Mc Farlane versus Gavin Puren! First run out would see Gavin chase down Jim, with Jim leaving a bit of a gap between the two of them. Second run would see Jim chase down Gavin, & once again Jim looked like he was stuck to Gavin’s door the whole run, battling to shake him off. With the final run done, the judges had made their decision & there would a definite winner between the two.

Prize giving & time to ease the pain & suffering of not knowing who won & were the drivers would end their 2017. First things first & the Golden tickets were given out, just to drag things out a little for the final four drivers. Drum roll time & time to give the results for the final round…  Third place would go to Paolo Gouveia, Second place to Gavin Puren & the Final First place of the year to Jim Mc Farlane.

Regional results would be as follows:

KZN Regionals:

1st Gavin Puren

2nd Eric van Eyssen

3rd Paolo Gouveia

Gauteng Regionals:

1st Jim Mc Farlane

2nd Riaan Stokes

3rd Mikey Skelton

Nationals:

1st Jim Mc Farlane

2nd Gavin Puren

3rd Paolo Gouveia

Rookie of the Year:

Armand Bronkhorst

Till next year, keep its safe, keep its sideways & as always… keep it SUPAFLY