Round three of the Australian Drift Grand Prix was set to be a very interesting round in the series after a not so predictable 2nd round in Western Australia.
The last round saw some fresh names on the podium at the end of the day, Matt Harvey took 1st, Victoria’s own Matt Russel taking 2nd and Dale Campaign scored 3rd.
So coming into the third round the championship points weren’t in anyone’s favor so all the drivers were going to be pushing their cars and their abilities to the absolute limit!!
The drivers are split into two classes, state and national. Those in state can try and earn their place into the national series which is usually reserved for those competing in all 4 rounds.
The schedule remains the same as any other round, one full day of qualifying and then a full day of competition.
Both days were scorchers with temps in the high 30’s the cars and spectators were feeling the effects of the sun all weekend long.
This was going to be an exciting round for us as we were cheering on our very own Jason Ferron who has become quite the wild card with some fantastic battles under his belt.
With every drift event held in Sydney there is always a heap of local talent present track side, something must be in the water here because they always have the best looking drift cars in the country.
Simon Michelmore was one to keep your eyes on with a fresh build completed in a new shell his S14 should be more competitive than ever!
The usual suspects of the national series during the drivers briefing.
Ryan ‘Slide’ Cummings is easily one of the best looking cars around.
With his fare share of mechanical miss-haps in the last 12 months we were hoping Ryan would finally have his day.
With last minute prep complete the drivers got ready for the practice sessions followed by qualifying.
Jarrad Klingberg took out the number 1 qualifier not only in his state class but was the highest score of the day beating Insane Drifters Agges by just 1 point!!
Agges put down one of the cleanest qualifying laps we seen in the competition. Here’s a video of the very solid run. Click here.
Levi Clarke in the stupidly photogenic V8 powered S15 pulled out number two qualifier in the national class and third highest for the day.
South Australia’s Jack Widdas scored a 67 which left him in 3rd place.
Cameron Mote took 3rd place in the state division with a score of 59.5 which would have put him in the top 10 of the national class to give you guys a comparison.
Matt Harvey missed the beat but still landed in number 7 spot.
Unfortunately Elliot Wylie had a spin and scored a zero. Points aside we have a big soft spot for this Laurel, after the epic David vs Goliath battle at last years Formula D event here in Melbourne where Wylie lent this car to Tom Monkhouse to go on to take 2nd place against Daigo Saito
Insane drifter Papa was also at the opposite end of the points only scoring 34, off a 4th place win form the previous round Papa had his work cut out for him.
It seems that the heat was getting to both the cars and the drivers with several spins and some break downs.
Ben Purtel was in fine form qualifying just half a point ahead of Andy Gray! Which landed him in number 9.
Nic Wilson was sporting a fresh make over on his wild looking Toyota Saloon. The JZX90 Chaser was wearing the wing of all wings built by Victorian specialists Topstage Composites.
Hit N’ Run drift crew’s Pistol Pete was out in force in the bedroom poster worthy 6 liter V8 equipped S15, yes it sounds as nice as it looks.
The only rotary of the competition was not off to a good start missing out on a spot in the 16 of the state division.
The drift Syndicate VE was still looking fresh after Max Orido put it through it’s paces during WTAC last year.
Steven Bramford placed 10th in the state division in his gorgeous sparkly Silvia.
We were drawn to his car like moths to a bug zapper, the electric blue paint was stunning from every angle!
Day 2 was the business end of the competition with the battles taking place and the usual affair of the pit walk and drivers signing session.
Klingberg’s hood art was being proudly displayed after yesterdays number 1 score.
Levi’s S15 is an astonishingly detailed car, we love the chrome elements on to the wing.
Ender was sitting mid field with a score of 47 from yesterday, his first battle was against Nick ‘The Drift Kid’ Coulson in his black VE Ute.
Ender straightened up on his chase run and then called a 5 minute rule after having issues with his gear selector.
On the lead run the 2J swapped S13 powered up the hill but Nick was right along there with him taking the win from Ender.
Who said coloured smoke tyres were dead? Sydney’s Drift Mob Anthony Bilic was frying them up the hill until he hit the dirt.
Blaze Unit’s Jabbit was looking good against Agges but unfortunately gearbox issues meant Jabbit couldn’t continue giving the Insane drifters driver the win.
In a battle of Aussie VS Import, foreign driver Andy took the win in his Toyota Chaser against Hayden Buckham in the blue VE Ute.
Papa was pulling out all the stops on his chase run against South Australian Dale Campaign…
Dale fought back on his chase run forcing a re-run. Which put the pressure on Papa…
Causing a spin which meant Dale went through in the grey Sileighty.
Klingberg’s winning streak didn’t stop taking the win against Jason Ferron thanks to some of the most aggressive driving we saw all weekend!
Schembri vs Michelmore was an extremely close battle which meant another one more time giving Simon the win after both battles.
Rob Whyte in the Achillies 350Z fought a hard battle against Dale and it was too close to call, after a one more time re-run Rob took the win.
Levi came back strong after several issues earlier in the day, however Chris in the Red R32 was hot on his tail.
The battle of the V8 swapped Nissans was won by Levi after a very, very close fight.
Matt Harvey’s little KE Corolla was all over Ryan ‘Slide’ Cummings S13 during the chase run, Ryan’s straighten up during Matt’s lead run sent Ryan home for the day.
Matt just couldn’t close the gap on Michelmores purple S14.
On Matt’s lead run Simon was just centimeters away in the S14, Simon’s performance gave him the win.
It seems that Beau Yates just hasn’t had enough seat time in his new 86, Beau spun on both his lead and chase runs.
Josh Boettcher was in the middle of a tough battle with dale when he missed a gear, according to the judges the pair would have gone again in a re-run if Josh didn’t miss shift.
Schembri stayed glued to the door of the GH Haulage Cefiro piloted by Justin Codr, Schembri took the win.
Nick and Jack fought hard and the judges called “one more” time, the second battle saw Nick Coulson edge away from the 31 Skyline giving the Drift Kid and the VE Ute the win.
Matt Russel fought the good fight in the little AE86 but lost against the might power thumping away under Levi’s bonnet.
Michael Prosnick was ahead after an awesome lead run away from Whyte, however on the chase Prosnick straightened in the NASCAR styled S13 and lost.
Simon and rob pushed so hard the two cars collided.
After a brief break the judges reviewed the on board cameras and deemed Simon to be at fault giving Rob the win.
Simon’s S14 was towed back to the pits were the crew rushed to get him back up and running for his final battle.
Now in the pointy end of the day cars were crashing left, right and center! Andy Gray had a huge hit with Levi Clarke, both cars needed to be towed back and the teams began mending the damage in a hope to get them both back out.
It seems you can give drifters a busted car, a pack of zipties and tape and they become master panel beaters. Levi Clarke was back out in force for a dramatic final battle with Rob Whyte.
If you look closely you can just make out Rob’s car in the smoke behind Levi’s car.
Rob over corrected and straightened up handing the win over to Levi Clarke, giving Levi his first podium finish in the series.
To end the epic weekend of skids, heat and dramas was a heap of trophies and ice cold champagne ready to shower the winners in.
All the cars looked worse for wear, you can’t be afraid to break a few eggs to win.
The winners of the national series.
1. Levi Clarke
2. Rob Whyte
3. Andy Gray
This was by far the most exciting round of the series yet and was a true show of great sportsmanship with the top 4 battles all ending in collisions and all the teams lending a hand to repair the damage to finish the show.
Ben Purtell lent his front suspension components to Simon Michelmore while Rob Whyte’s team helped repair Levi’s car before their battle together that decided the number 1 finish for the day!!
Where else would you see someone help their opponent out to effectively help them beat you?
Drift is only going up in Australia.
The next round returns to the Thunder Dome here in Melbourne where the top 10 all have a shot at being the series winner for 2014!!
Thanks for reading,
All photos courtesy of Robert Mochetti | Full Motion Photography