Round 3 of the Maxxis Tyres British Drift Championship saw Team Japspeed heading north to Teesside Autodrome. A favourite with the team and a staple of the British drifting calendar we have always traditionally done well at Teesside and, with Japspeed driver Shane “Sully” O’Sullivan leading the championship going into the round, a good haul of points here had the potential to secure a strong championship position for the Irishman.
Practice kicked off on Saturday on a dry track until a sudden downpour soon put an end to the high grip levels and fast pace. With Sully being joined by his Japspeed team mates Shane Lynch, Paul Smith and Danny Eyles, the Japspeed pits were bustling with activity as the team worked to get all four cars dialled into the conditions.
Shane Lynch in particular was enjoying the fresh dose of horsepower in our V8 S15. Having visited Protuner in the days leading up to the event the Silvia’s peak power output has risen from 541bhp to 614bhp, with the torque figure now hitting a not inconsiderable 650lb/ft. Shane was mightily impressed with the new setup, although in the slippy conditions it was a fair bit more power than what was necessary!
With the track’s traction levels being similar to those of an ice rink as a result of the rainfall, all four Japspeed drivers had to nurse their cars around the circuit to ensure that they stayed on the black stuff and hit all of the required clipping points. The Maxxis MA-Z1 tyres on all the cars helped to provide every last bit of grip available on the greasy tarmac and allowed for Paul Smith to qualify in 5th, Shane Lynch 6th, Shane O’Sullivan 12th and Danny Eyles 21st. With a Top 32 battle format being run the following day, all four drivers were in with a chance of the win!
Come Sunday and the rain had subsided, leaving the Super Pro drivers with a dry and grippy circuit with which to do battle on. Our first Top 32 battle saw Paul drawn against Marcin Mucha and his extremely powerful Supra. It wasn’t enough to stop Paul and his trusty S15 though and, after a nail-bitingly close chase run, Paul took the win and secured his place in the Top 16.
Shane Lynch saw himself drawn against our Maxxis team mate Christian Lewis in his R33 Skyline. With Shane in the lead position Christian earned a small advantage by chasing very hard and persistently. With the roles reversed all eyes were on Shane to overturn the advantage but, as he exited the second hairpin and shifted up a gear to pull away, a driveshaft failure stopped the Japspeed S15 dead in its tracks. Unfortunately this spelt the end for Shane’s weekend but we will be learning from the experience and putting in some man hours into the V8 S15’s drivetrain in an effort to prevent any future failures.
By some stroke of misfortune, Sully and Danny found themselves drawn against each other for their Top 32 battle! As the RB S15 and 1JZ Subaru went head to head there was very little to separate the two throughout the hugely exciting battle but an ever-so-small correction from Danny was all that was needed to hand the advantage to Sully.
Come the Top 16 battles and luck was against us again – Sully and Paul were drawn against each other in another all-Japspeed pairing! With the two S15s going head to head everyone was eager to see who would take the advantage; Paul with his razor sharp accuracy or Sully with his wild aggressiveness. After the first two battles the judges were unable to pick a winner and called One More Time – this was going to be a good one.
With Paul leading the first run he pulled a small gap and with it earned a slight advantage. With the roles reversed Paul stayed glued to Sully throughout but was heavily penalised for straying off the judged line in order to remain close. With the scores tallied it was Sully that would be going through to the Top 8 after what was one of the most exciting battles of the weekend! Check out some of the on-board footage from this battle below:
With the team’s fate resting on Sully’s shoulders he headed into the Top 8 to fend off the attentions of Jay White in his S14a. The pair’s first battles were extremely close called affairs but, after going to One More Time, a big mistake from Jay was all Sully needed to secure a big advantage and a passage through to the Semi Finals.
The Semi Final saw Shane drawn against David Waterworth in his V10 Viper powered S15. With David leading the first run the pair were judged to be even by the judges but, with the roles reversed, Sully pushed as hard as he could to pull a gap between the two. Coupled with David missing one of the clipping points, Shane had booked his place in the final.
Unfortunately not all of Team Japspeed would be able to watch the final battle as Shane Lynch had to make a swift departure to Northampton to perform at Alive at Delapre. A helicopter landing in the centre of the Teesside circuit was certainly a first for the championship but it also helped to give Shane the best view in the house as he took off into the air with cars drifting beneath him.
The final battle of the weekend saw Sully drawn against his Monster Energy team mate Stephen “Baggsy” Biagioni. With both drivers having been noted for their aggressive driving all weekend this was one battle the crowd and the judges couldn’t wait to see.
Shane assumed the chase position for the first run and stayed as close as possible to Baggsy, who was subsequently penalised for missing a number of the clipping points as it had helped him to pull a small lead.
With Sully in the lead Baggsy made contact as the pair entered the first hairpin, pushing Sully wide and allowing Baggsy to overtake. With his opponent having been heavily marked down for making contact and for the overtake maneuver, Shane secured the advantage once again and, as a result, the winners trophy!
Shane O’Sullivan now sits four points clear at the top of the championship table, with his first place finish at Teesside and second place finish at Lydden Hill securing him the top spot. With Round 4 taking place at Lydden Hill in a couple of weeks time, will he be able to extend his lead even further? We’ll have to wait and find out!
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