It was another early start for the Speedhunting and Wexican crew as we arrived at the track at 8 a.m. Before we arrived the judges, along with Dutch drive Olaf Commijs made some minor changes to the layout. Ffrench walked the track and reckoned that the new layout would suit the RX better as there was a better flow to it. Whilst Martin and Ross prepared the car for the first practice session, I strolled the paddock to eye up the competition and of course to share some eye candy …
Driftworks were represented by Phil Morrisson in the now infamous 666bhp 2JZ S15.
Also representing the DW massive was Dan Chapman in his PS13 Silvia.
The Rocket Bunny 6666 and Ultralite RB30 PS13 driven by Anthony Scott looked super agressive.
After that it was onto the morning practice session, the early morning light made for a dramatic entry onto the course.
Ffrench was looking more and more comfortable in the car and spent some time practicing twin with some of the other drivers. Here he is chasing the Severnside Imports RPS13 driven by Kawabata-san.
I could see Martin becoming physically more relaxed in the car and when he was out of the car during tyre changes he just wanted to be back in it again. He even had time to perform a cheeky burnout in front of the local Police. It’s okay though folks, this was the startline for the course !
The morning practice session ended and the JDM Allstars crew had organised for an FMX demonstration to keep the crowds entertained during the breaks. I’ve never shot FMX before but I thought it was great fun and was amazed by the height these guys were kicking up to. As we waited for qualifying to begin Martin told me that he would ideally like to qualify around 4th or 5th so that he could face more difficult but faster opposition. His rationale was that if he qualified 1st he would have to face the 16th place qualifier and he might struggle dealing slower cars in the big power RX7.
It was Remmo Niezen in the Falken BMW that was to qualify first. Our previous prediction of Remmo being the man to beat was quickly becoming true. Ffrench would qualify 3rd overall which he was happy with and would face BDC Pro driver Matt Chiapa.
As Top 16 was about to begin we headed trackside to pick our spot for the afternoon. Pictured above is UK Drift Photographer, Speedhunter Contributor and a very good mate of mine, Ross I’Anson. Check out the links at the bottom of the post for a link to his galleries from the weekend.
In Ffrench’s first Top 16 Battle, he faced Chiappa as mentioned above. Ffrench cooly dealt with him, passing him on his chase run and pulling away from him on his lead run. It was onto the Top 8 …
Top 8 saw Ffrench face off against RBWDC competitor Paul Vlasbom in his E36 Touring. Vlasbom is a highly competitive driver but the forward traction the RX7 had proved uncatchable and Ffrench was onto the Top 4 to face Driftworks driver Dan Chapman.
As the cars broke into view with Ffrench leading, disaster struck the RX7. The car straightened and began to violently shoot short bursts of flames. Ffrench limped the car back to the pits with everyone questioning the reliability of the Rotary engine. The problem was not terminal, in fact it was not even serious. Because there had been such a short amount of time between the run against Vlasbom and Chapman, nobody had thought to refuel the car. This was a hugely frustrating moment for all involved but Ffrench knew that he was 10-0 down and had only one hope of getting a re-run and that was to pass Chapman or force him into a spin.
They both reappeared again, engines screaming and tires smoking, Ffrench was stuck to Chapmans door but Chapman was holding Ffrench back and beautifully defending his lines. Ffrench tried to go over the makeshift corner markers to pass him but it was to be of no use. Chapman was to go through. It was a spectacular drive from both sides and finished with both Ffrench and Chapman shaking hands in front of the hugely appreciative audience.
We had no time to sit around as Ffrench was straight into the third place battle against Olaf Commijs, in his carbon fronted R34 GTS-T. The battle was fought closely but Ffrench was to emerge victorious and put himself on the podium on his first major event back in the driver seat.
It was then onto the final of the day. Dutchman Remmo Niezen versus UK driver Dan Chapman. Remmo looked relaxed at the start line waiting for Chapman, unaware that an epic FOUR re-runs were going to be required to decide the winner …
… and it was Remmo who was to emerge victorious in front of the capacity crowd. Although Chapman fought him tooth and nail over every inch to the finish line, it was not an easy victory for Niezen but a well deserved one.
As the prize giving ended, the matte black FD sat beside the finalists cars. We now knew what the RX7 was capable of and how explosive it is going to be in future in twin drift battles.
The drifting world has been warned, the Dragon has been awoken and it has been tamed by an Irish man …
– Paddy M