Another Podium Finish For Team Japspeed
After the heady success at Round 1 of the Maxxis British Drift Championship at Teesside, the Japspeed Team were keen to capitalise on their storming start to the season. Driver Shane ‘O Sullivan was carrying strong form going into the event after scooping 1st place at Teesside and claiming a close 2nd place at Prodrift only a week before the event.
O’Sullivan laid his cards out in qualifying and sent a shockwave out to the other Super Pro drivers with a run that bagged 91 points! The highest qualifying run of the weekend! Things looked good.
There were some hurdles that had to be overcome though; Shane Lynch destroyed the custom-made propshaft on his twin-turbo V8 S15 but all was not lost. Shane had not ran for qualification, this meant that he was eligible to use team mate Steve “Baggsy” Biagioni’s Subaru.
Using the Subaru for the very first time ever, especially in qualification runs placed some serious pressure on Lynch’s shoulders. He had 3 chances to qualify and if he didn’t make the grade, he’d be going home! The first run out saw Shane spinning out as he entered the centre section of the track, no problem with two spare runs left. Yet when Shane span again in exactly the same spot on his second run, hearts were in mouths! This was too close for comfort, maybe it would be too much to expect Shane to be able to master the Subaru within seconds of getting behind the wheel.
The team ran over and whispered some words of wisdom in his ear, whatever got said certainly worked! On the third and final run, Shane mastered it! Putting in a seriously exhilarating run, it got huge cheers from the crowd who were clearly rooting for him in these tricky circumstances. The run was so good, he actually gained a qualification spot above Baggsy! So much friendly banter ensued between the lads.
At the end of day 1, the BDC staff read out the standings for qualification. Things looked solid with Team Japspeed gaining 1st, 5th, 6th and 10th place in qualification. It was back to the pits to check the cars over, have a team talk and rest up ready for the finals.
Even when parked up the monster S15 looks angry, meanwhile Team Japspeed technician Andy ensured everything was spotless.
Day 2 started to the sound of engines and screaming tyres. Some last-minute-motorsport repairs were hastily underway on Shane O’ Sullivan’s car while the lads soaked up the track and swapped battle tips.
After practice, it was time for the popular “meet and greet” sessions, were the Norfolk spectators are invited down from the stands to come and say hello to the various teams. It was crammed with people milling around. Team Japspeed were busy signing autographs for keen fans and once the mania had died down, people left the track to return to the stands ready for the finals to begin.
‘O Sullivan was the first out in battle and with the form he’s been carrying, he was expected to be a strong performer. In a complete shocker, he span out! Nobody could have predicted it and you certainly wouldn’t have put money down on it, even though he won the second battle, it wasn’t enough to stop Dan ‘O Brien taking his scalp; he was out and the torch passed to his team mates.
Shane Lynch looked at home in the Subaru and was relishing the seat time, the Japspeed Subaru was taking a pounding as it was being passed between Shane and Baggsy for their battles. Paul “Smokey” Smith was his usual calm and composed self, looking incredibly quick around the Arena track.
Nobody had an easy ride, every victory had to be fought for; the judges often struggled to separate the twinning drivers, such was the strength of the competition. The call for OMT (One More Time) went up in several battles, requiring teams to call for the 5 minute rule to ensure the Maxxis tyres were still in great condition and that there was enough fuel in the tanks.
The man quite rightly claiming the weekends glory for Team Japspeed is Smokey Smith, Paul was on song all weekend and played part in one of the most exciting final battles we’ve seen, facing the very consistant force of Steve Moore from SATS Motorsport.
When Smokey and Moore locked horns, it made the hairs on your neck stand up! It was a heart-stopper, both drivers giving the crowd and judges what they came to see, it was a clear OMT, then when the pair went again, there was nothing to separate the two, it was exhausting from the grandstands, nevermind inside those drift cars. The judges gave the signal; it was now “Sudden Death” the slightest of errors would be penalised, it was a showcase of world-class drifting!
The judges put Smokey onto a hard-earned second place and he quite rightly triumphantly sprayed the winners champagne on the podium to cap a wild weekends drifting at Norfolk for Round 2 of the Maxxis British Drift Championship.
Despite it being an emotional rollercoaster, the Team performed as a unit and grabbed some vital championship points to take into the next round. Smokey came second, followed by Baggsy in 4th, Shane Lynch came in at 7th and O’Sullivan still did enough to claim 9th place. It was a solid performance and the team are already moving forward and preparing to take on Teesside again for Round 3 of the Maxxis British Drift Championship. We hope to see you all there!
Photos by Ste Trackslide Photography