Round 5 of the National Supadrift series took place this past weekend on the 1st of September, a perfect way to bring in the beginning of spring. The weather on the other hand was anything but a spring day, with over cast skies and cold winds coming off the ocean; someone forgot to let Port Shepstone know it was not winter hahahaha. Round 5 would see drivers using the South loop track, where it all started at Dezzi about 7years ago, before he built the “Roller Coaster”, a little bit of nostalgia racing for the veteran drivers of the Supadrift Series.
I arrived at the track a day earlier than normal, so I could get more of the action during practice as well as try get some seat time with drivers, so I could get a better understanding of what goes through a driver mind during a run, as well as get a feel for the track before race day, to improve on the commentary. Sadly someone left my helmet as his girlfriends house (not going to say names, but Jason you know who you are hahaha) so trying to find a spare helmet turned into a bit of a mission and by the time I sourced one the day was almost over. I did however manage to get in a few laps with Mikey Skelton who was using a second car for this event as he just didn’t manage to get his Rockford Fosgate 350z up and running in time after Round 04. He did still drift in a 350z with a very similar set up to his usual ride.For some drivers Friday had a non stop date with gremlins as they battled with mechanical problems through out the day and did not manage to get any much practice. Pierre van Reenen only managed to get in 3 laps before his gearbox broke; but that didn’t stop him as he and his mechanic worked through the night to replace the gearbox, as he opted to move up from his Pro1 win at round3 to drive in the Pro group in round5. Dewit Oosthuizen on the other hand had to rebuild his whole power-steering motors as some cleaver sparking manged to put the motor back together wrong, causing Dewit to loose out on a whole day… not cool when you’re driving all the way from Johannesburg to compete.With Fridays practice and Gremlins out the way, drivers headed back to the track on Saturday morning to get some more practice during the open practice session; which was vital for every driver as the Judges had made one change to the layout that would completely change how the drivers would finish their runs. The track layout started off with a short initiation zone into a short right which would then switch in a to a long swooping left towards a rear zone, and then scrub speed into a tight front clip before transitioning into a quick switch to a rear clipping point and then switching again to a higher from clip that would “wash” then out close the barriers before crossing the line. This was done so that when it came to the tandems, the chance car would have enough space to keep the proximity in the runs… better for judging and better for the crowds, as it proved later in the day.
With both practice sessions out the way it was time to head into the qualifying; and as usual it would start off with the Pro1 drivers. Now if you’ve been following the season, you would have heard about the Pro1, if you haven’t then just a bit of a recap. The Pro1 series was started to the grass roots drivers who wanted to get into the drifting scene, but just don’t have enough seat time and experience to compete with the Pro drivers. This round we had three drivers, Melanie van der Merwe, Trevor Puren and Don Wheeler. Don unfortunately broke his car during morning practice which left us with just two driver, Melanie and Trevor.Round one of the qualifier and the first group of driver look as if they had forgotten to put on their talent pants, as they headed out and almost every driver scored a Zero. Jono van Eyssen for example, who was laying down some of the best laps during practice, managed to spin out on both his qualifying runs, eliminating himself from the competition, Pierre van Reenen manged to get half a lap in before his gearbox finally gave in again, taking him out of the running too. Joey Govender, who was also putting in some of the best runs of the day, went out and put down a perfect line all the way till the final front clip where he just lost the drift and over rotated; as for his second to be honest, I have no idea why he never got any point.
Jason Webb managed to put down the best lap and qualified 1st with a 88.5, followed by Shane Gutzeit with 88 and Armand “Chucky: Bronkhorst 3rd with 83. With everyone laying down their best for qualifying we had ourselves a Top16 battle list for round5; and a battle list it was with so much action. Brothers Gavin & Brendan Puren would find themselves battling it out, not just once but twice as they headed into a OMT; with Gavin just out scoring Brendan.Mikey Skelton would find himself going in super hard up against Armand ” Chucky”, and crashed his 350 into the side of the RX7 breaking his lower control arm and ending his racing for the day. Chucky managed to continue and found himself in the Top8 for the first time this season. Dewit Oosthuizen would see himself in a déjà vu situation with Jim Mcfarlane as he slammed into the back of him on initiation, exactly like he did in Round5 in P.E.Top 16 out the way and time for the Great8! and as if the Top16 was not exciting enough, the Great8 would see Gavin Puren upset the apple cart as he and Jason battled it out, and after a OMT, took the win. This meant Jason’s quest to dominated the 2018 series was crushed. Jim Mcfarlane would find himself in a OMT battle with Adam “Miyagi” Shefer and take the win. Zain Hussen battled with his R33 and Shane Gutzeit would take the win. Zanil Satar would battle it out with Armand Bronkhorst, with Armand making it look like child’s play on his lead run, Zanil battled to see where he was going through all that smoke. On Zanil’s lead run, he took a high line on initiation washing him of the drift line and causing him to reduce speed on the switch in the power zone, which ended up with him having Chucky in his door, As Armand was on the power quickly with the V8.
Top4 would see Shane vs Chucky and Jim vs Gavin, with the wins going to Shane and Gavin; leaving Chucky and Jim to face off in the battle for 3rd. Shane and Gavin would battle it out for the top podium position, and with both drivers putting down insane runs, the judges had them run an OMT! which meant the crowds got to see 4 battle rounds for first place. OMT out the way and the judges had made the calls… not wanting to spoil it for everyone they only announced the podium winners at the end, so not only did we not know who won, we still need to crown our 3rd place winner.Prize giving time and just to keep the anticipation of finding out who won!?! Pro1 drivers where given their trophies first, with Trevor Puren taking 1st and Melanie van de Merwe taking second. Brendan Puren won Mooove of the day, while Armand “Chucky” Bronkhorst won Driver of the day. Saving the best for last; Jim Mcfarlane took 3rd, Shane Gutzeit took 2nd and a very happy Gavin Puren took 1st. Gavin said for him it was a triple victory, as not only did he take 1st, he did it in front of his home crowd and he finally beat Jason Webb hahaha.
Till the next time, be sure to catch the Final battle at Round6 on the 28th and 29th of September at Carnival City where they will crown the 2018 Supadrift National Champion. Till then keep it safe, keep it sideways and keep it Supalfy!!