In 2017 South Africans got the opportunity to witness their first ever Gymkhana Grid, the brain child of the King [HOONIGAN] himself, Ken Block. This not only gave the spectators a great show; but for local South African drivers, it gave them the opportunity to drive against some of the biggest drivers in the world.
2018 was the last time the event was held in South Africa and with such a great response, and a South African driver Jason Webb placing 2nd on the podium; that the organisers decide that in 2019 they would invite two South Africa drivers to compete in Poland. In the beginning of the year, in association with XS promotions, they ran a Supakhana Golden Ticket event where a driver from each category RWD and FWD would win a trip of a life time.
With cars loaded they ventured across the pond to Poland, where they would meet some of Europe’s best drivers, drivers that have competed in European GRiDs as well as Top names from the Russian Drift Series and the European Drift Master to name a few.
We arrived on the the Thursday, just in time to witness Carl van As take on the massive GRiD layout. Eric van Eyssen had already done his qualifying the day before where he had managed to qualify 14th, knocking out some of last years top qualifiers as well as three time RWD champion Luke Woodham; who brought a whole new set up, which just didn’t managed to perform on the day.
Race day saw Eric go up against third place qualifier Daigo Saito 斎藤 太吾 in his 2jz powered A90 Toyota Supra ( A beast of a machine). Eric told us in the pits “It has always been a bucket list of mine to drive against Daigo, but ideally I would have loved to go door-to-door on a drift circuit”. Eric’s bucket list was semi ticket off as he took to the track, sadly taking a few penalties on the left side, and then getting a DNF on the second track, would see Eric Knocked out by Daigo.
Carl van As would go up against Scotish driver James Stephen; Scooby vs Scooby, with both drivers almost neck and neck on the first half of the grid, James Stephen pushed to hard and found himself in the wall; a pretty hard knock that took himself out of the race, however helping Carl move on to the Top8.
Carl would then see himself go up against Oliver Solberg in his Rally spec Citroen, a car that weighed in about the same weight as a babies nappy hahaha. Well needless to say the power to weight ratio worked in Oliver’s favour, knocking out Carl.
Well that was it then for our SA drivers, but the night did not end there, as they joined the crowds and watched the rest of the nights racing. RWD finals would see Mantas Šliogeris; a complete under dog, in his little super charged Mazda MX5 go up against Pawel Korpulinski in his BMW. Mantas was left on the start as Pawel powered off the line, but the short wheel base of the little MX5 proved to be the winning formula for Mantas as he made up all the time on the obstacles & beat Pawel across the line. (just a little inside info, Mantas drove the MX5 to Poland from London and straight after the even drove it back home)
AWD finals would see Father and Son go toe to toe as Oliver Solberg would go up against his dad Petter Solberg. “Saving the best for last” words that would best sum up the final runs. Watching these two drivers was magical, Petter’s years of RX and WRC knowledge was just flawless; and the apple really does not fall far from the tree, as Oliver showed off his skills that he inherited from both his Mom and Dad, just insane, and at the age of 17.
Well that was it, Gymkhana GRiD Ten done and dusted!! A truly exciting journey for our South African drivers and they did us proud. Sure they never won, but showing off their individual skills was awesome to witness.
Here are a few snaps, for more check out the gallery on our Facebook Page: