The 2018 season of the HEL Performance Driftcup kicked off at Rockingham Motor Speedway alongside Spring Matsuri.
As in previous years the outer paddock was available for drivers to get some practice runs in on Saturday before the main event followed on Sunday.
The driving level shown throughout the practice day surprised many, its set to be a challenging year for any of the competitors if this level of driving continues for the remaining four rounds.
The track layout for this round was similar to round three last season, a long run up to the first corner with an inner clip midway through before running out toward the tyre wall on the corner exit.
A quick transition across the track followed by three outer clips on a long right hand corner in front of the judge’s tower before transitioning again across the track and onto the other side of the tyre wall.
The second half of the track featured tighter corners with the clipping points set to allow the chase car to close up throughout this section.
The crowds lined the wall at the final corner as the cars ran out to the final clipping point against the concrete wall.
The start of the year has plenty of new drivers joining the championship and this year was no exception.
There were also many drivers returning for their second or third year, although everyone entered has the same aim, to earn their chance to compete in the British Drift Championship.
On Sunday morning the drivers had a couple of hours to finish dialling in their cars and perfecting the line.
The section of track for clips three, four and five looked like it would separate the drivers but by the end of practice most people were getting out to the clips on a smooth line throughout the corner.
The qualifying session started shortly after midday with each driver getting two attempts to put in a good run, the judges were looking for drivers to get out to the clips on a smooth line whilst maintain angle throughout the track. Frazer Jamieson took to the track first and set a challenge for everyone else, scoring 86 points. Nobody would beat that in the session although Frazer did improve to a score of 90.7 on his second attempt.
Dan Tyler ended the session in second place with a score of 83.3 on his second run.
Lee Lawrence earned third place in qualifying after his great first run worthy of 83 points, unfortunately he wasn’t able to improve on it during his second run but it was a strong position to head into the afternoon battles.
The results from qualifying show just how competitive the field of drivers is this season, with just 10 points separating 7th place from 32nd.
The battles kicked off with Danny Whyman taking the first victory of the day after Robert Cropley spun, parking the car with the back end up on the tyre wall at clip six.
Jolene ‘JoJo’ Mcdonald has been having issues with the car all day, this would see her bow out of the competition against Chris Wright.
Second place qualifier, Dan Tyler, would go on to win his first battle in Driftcup against Lee Newnham.
On the other side of the battle tree, Lozza Hinks progressed through in to the Top 16 in her battle with James Connor.
Ashley Jones defeated Richard Crump in the following battle after a one more time, both drivers showing great lead a chase runs but Ashley just gaining the advantage.
Frazer Jamieson would be exiting the competition surprisingly early in his battle against Stu Jones, it shows that no driver is going to get an easy time even if they qualify 1st or 32nd. This time it was to be a lack of grip off the line for Frazer, allowing Stu to pull a large lead early in the run that Frazer was unable to close.
As we progressed through the Top 16 it was starting to become clear who the challengers would be at this round. Danny Whyman was proving to be a strong contender as he defeated Matt Fountain and progressed into the Top 8.
Ashley Jones had an impact with the tyre wall, ending his charge toward the finals and putting Lozza Hinks through to the Top 8, she was having a great day so far!
Newcomer Andy Frost was quickly showing his talents despite this being his first round, he advanced into the Top 8 after his great battle with Chris Webber. Andy had pulled a lead on his first run and closed up on Chris throughout his chase run, earning him the win.
Martyn Cowley was another newcomer showing how he wasn’t going to be easy to beat in battles, he lined up against Will Smith in the Top 16 before putting on a great lead run. They swapped over and Martyn pinned it to Will’s car through the run, the crowd showed their appreciation as they crossed the finish line. Martyn had done enough to progress through to the Top 8.
Jake Rolls had also turned up with a point to prove this season, his car wouldn’t be ready for this round so he had borrowed an E36 compact from Mike Walton. This didn’t stop him from giving it his all during the Top 16 battle against Stu Jones, even tagging the wall at the final clip. The battle would go for a One More Time before Jake was declared the winner.
Danny Whyman had another great set of lead and chase runs against Chris Wright in the Top 8, seeing him advance into the Final 4.
Joining him was Dan Tyler after he pulled a large lead over Thomas Kirkwood in their Top 8 battle.
On the other side of the battle tree, Andy Frost defeated Lozza Hinks in a great display of his chasing skills, closing up onto the door of Lozza’s Skyline at every opportunity.
Martyn Cowley made up the last of our Final 4 drivers after beating Jake Rolls.
Any one of these drivers looked like they could take the event win at the first round of the season. As the Final 4 kicked off it would be Dan Tyler against Danny Whyman, Both drivers looked to have strong lead and chase runs but Dan Tyler had done enough to advance into the final at his first Driftcup event.
Andy Frost and Martyn Cowley lined up, both of giving it their all, aiming for their shot at the final. Martyn had a better lead run, maintaining a small lead over Andy, it was enough for Martyn to advance through to the final.
Third place was still going to be a hard fought battle between Andy Frost and Danny Whyman, it was so close on their first attempt that a One More Time was needed to split them. This time Danny had done enough to take the win and third place on the podium.
Martyn Cowley and Dan Tyler lined up for the final, it was a close battle with Martyn again pulling a small lead as he had done in so many of his battles throughout the day.
He had earned his place on the top step of the podium with Dan Tyler in second and Danny Whyman in third.
Andy Frost was awarded the Driven Oils Hard Charger award for his driving throughout the event, impressive for any driver but more surprising was that Andy was on the reserve list until the morning of the event!
The team event was won by Skid Squad with their drivers finishing well with Danny Whyman in 3rd and Matt Kerr in 22nd.
Round 2 takes place on April 15th at Three Sisters Race Circuit in Wigan, come along to see all of the action for yourselves!