Wow, where to start…
The penultimate round showed us more drama, action and plot twists than the latest cinema listings and we could not look away.
On Saturday we were blessed with the hottest weather of the season whilst the Pro-Am competition also heated up. Qualifying saw some drivers hitting their personal best, and one of those was Lwi Edwards in his BMW E36 M3. Proving that age means nothing in this competition he scored a huge 95 point run to make it into the top 32 battles, and then earned his way to third place overall which meant he could compete at pro level the next day. As if that wasn’t enough, he then showed the pro class he meant business with a 91.3 point run during Pro qualifying.
It can’t go unmentioned that during the top 32 Pro-Am battles, the crowds saw one of the biggest crashes so far between Ash Jones and Chris Parnham. Amidst the last two clipping points, the fuel pump in Jones’ E36 caused his car to cut out and straighten which put him in the direct path of Parnham.
“I thought I could make it so I kept my foot down but nitrous was still being squirted into the engine so when I clutch kicked the nitrous caused a backfire and exploded.” Ash explained. “I hit the green strip at the edge of the track which was a lot grippier and sent me forwards. That’s when Chris hit me. I’ve had a bad back for a week or so after that one.”
The car suffered a badly bent chassis rail amongst other damage but has now been repaired, and both car and driver are back to fighting fit for round 6. It all shows just how important the strict safety regulation are. Some more close calls which the crowds won’t forget in a hurry included Deividas Petrauskas almost rolling his car during his top 32 battle against Will Gibbs, and Stephen Fitzgerald ripping the rear end from his car during his second qualifying run. After scoring so highly in his first run it looked like Fitzgerald would be out of action for the rest of the day, but in the true spirit of drifting and thanks to a little SOS callout from our commentator Ian Waddington, rival drivers and team mechanics lent parts and man hours to get him back on track for battles. This epic turnaround saw Stephen take home most XITE’ing driver of the day.
Amongst all of this action, Josh King went full ‘send it’ mode to claim first place on the MTEC Brakes podium for the third time this season, winning exhilarating battles against the likes of Egis Minelga and Andy Frost. He even reached the great 8 in the Pro class the next day.
Andy Frost also showed us again how well he can pedal his new FastR BMW E92. After suffering various car issues each round he was absolutely ecstatic to finally reach the podium, as was his team of rowdy supporters who always spice up the BDC crowds (mainly led by his girlfriend, of course). The battle between Frost and King for first place was a close call, and Frost narrowly missed out due to coming off track. It’s safe to say that he will be back even stronger for BDC2020.
On Sunday, our Pro drivers were yet again plagued by bad British weather, but after some practice runs they were back on top form. William Hanna showed he was a true gentleman and demonstrated what a great drifting community we are a part of by lending Ricky Lawrence his newly-wrapped R33 Nissan Skyline for competition. Lawrence reached the great 8 before losing out to Adam Simmons, but now sits in 5th position overall in his rookie year. He also won most XITE’ing driver of the day.
Simmons reached the podium for the second time this season in his new BMW Z4, making it to third place and bagging the Tarmac Sportz Constructors Championship trophy for Slide Motorsport. In his top 16 run he knocked Lwi Edwards out of the running with great proximity and a narrow 1 point separation for the judges, showing just how close this series can be.
Simmons was eventually beaten by Oliver Evans, whose car had been at the receiving end of some door rubbing and proximity abuse in almost every run from his climb to the Top 4 battles. A spot on the podium has been a long time coming for Evans, as he brings his aggressive and consistent driving to each round. Ollie achieved an incredible second place after narrowly losing his last battle to Aurimas Vaskelis following a ‘one more time’ call from the judges.
Vaskelis picked up the first place trophy as he jumped with both feet in the air and grinned bigger than on parts delivery day. Round five meant that extra bit more to him after failing to qualify at the previous round, and narrowly missing out on first place in the round before that. Vaskelis sacrificed his points lead at round four but now he is sitting 9 points above Martin Wonnacott in the Pro standings, after yet another show of his incredible ability as both a lead and chase driver.
And although he did not reach the podium this time, Martin Wonnacott does need a mention as a key player in both round five and the entire championship. After scoring the highest qualifying run of the day and driving hard in his intense battles against rival Huw Savill and Oliver Bolton, Wonnacott was struck by technical issues against Vaskelis in his Top 4 run. Martin fought against the loss of power as much as he could, putting on an incredible show for the crowd, but lost his long-awaited rematch against Vaskelis. He then lost out on third place to Adam Simmons when his car completely cut out. It was a heart-wrenching moment for him and the fans who could see how much it meant to him, as he was a huge contender for first place and is still in a great position to win the 2019 season title if he can get his car back to optimum performance.
Round five was the scene of many dramatic moments and it will only become more intense in a few week’s time at Buxton Raceway. 3 Sisters you were an absolute pleasure and the perfect warm-up (literally) to our final round.
Let’s see what our brand-new venue has in store.