Round 3 of the 2018 HEL Performance Driftcup was held at Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, Northamptonshire. The outer paddock was the track used for this round with another custom layout designed to promote door on door battles and it certainly delivered!
The track featured a short run into the first corner with the drivers expected to be full throttle from the start line until initiation. The lead driver would flick his car across the track and onto clip 1 at the start of a long 360 degree right hander. Clips 2, 3, 4 and 5 all sat on the outside of this corner, keeping the cars wide and enabling the chase car to keep on the door all the way around.
After clip 5 the track dropped down toward the bottom of the outer paddock and the first of two hairpins. Clip 6, 7 and 8 were all on the outside of this left handed hairpin, again keeping the lead car wide to promote close battles.
The final corner was a right handed hairpin starting at clip 9 before two wall runs at clips 10 & 11 to finish the track.
By this point in the season the drivers were expected to be pushing more and improving with every round so the judges would be rewarding drivers that could get to angle quickly and maintain their line without hesitating at each of the clipping points.
It was also the first time this year that the drivers wouldn’t be able to take advantage of a practice day ahead of the round so the only practice session would be first thing on the Sunday morning.
The drivers got their pit areas setup and headed to the start line hoping to get as many practice runs as possible to dial in their cars and learn the line around the track.
After a couple of runs there were so many drivers that looked like they could qualify at this round but only 32 drivers would get the chance to battle so the pressure would be on!
Toward the end of the practice session the drivers were pushing their cars to the limits, tagging the walls at clips 10 and 11 to the excitement of the crowds that lined the track.
Qualifying got underway with 60 drivers getting two runs to impress the judges, there are no safe runs in Driftcup this season as everyone in the championship is so competitive.
So many drivers had impressive runs on their first attempts including Craig Taylor who threw his Subaru Imprezza into the first corner and held a huge entry impressing the judges, he completed the run with a score of 84.3. Good enough for first place at this stage but he would end up second by the end of the session.
Chris Arnott took away the top spot with a run scoring 86 points, a well-earned reward for a great line and big angle throughout the run.
Danny Mcquire took third place in qualifying with a score of 82.7, the commitment on his run was impressive as he left a large paint mark on the wall at clip 6.
Four of our new drivers had qualified with James Ireland in 4th, Steve McConnell in 5th, Dean Nash in 21st and Zane Gittens in 30th.
As the battles began it really proved for everyone in attendance that HEL Driftcup is the place to see the rising talent in UK drifting, Danny Whyman and Steve McConnell fought like it was the final and yet it was the first battle of the Top 32!
Dean Nash won his first battle in Driftcup after three one more times were needed in his battle with Tony Morgan, the pressure looked like it was getting to both drivers.
Dave Bastin has qualified in 10th place but in his battle against Lisa Branch he really showed that he would be a difficult driver to beat at this round, his AE86 proved to be very fast throughout the track.
Danny Mcquire also showed that he was on form in his R34 Skyline, pulling away on his lead run against Zane Gittens before pinning it to his door on his chase runs.
Frazer Jamieson and Martyn Giles battled, each driver knew how the other tackled this track after practicing together in the morning so it was going to be a close battle. Frazer took the win with impressive driving in the chase position, even putting a tyre mark on Martyn’s door.
The last battle in the Top 32 saw Aidan Clarence beat Will Smith, our Top 16 drivers were decided and it looked like any number of them could take it all the way at this round.
Steve McConnell put in another dominant performance against Dean Nash, putting himself through to the Top 8.
He was joined by James Ireland after his battle with Richard Crump, getting so close throughout the second half of the track that it was difficult to see his car behind Richard’s Skyline!
Andy Frost didn’t have anything for Dave Bastin in their battle where Dave again managed to pull away on his lead run and advancing into the next round of battles.
Aidan Clarence and Matt Roberts went for one more time in their battle as both drivers struggled on their first runs. On their second attempt Aidan pulled out all of the stops to take the win.
In the Top 8 two of the Driftcup newcomers lined up to battle, Steve McConnell emerged victorious, ending James Ireland’s day although he would have been happy to make it this far on his debut.
Chris Wright was the next driver to take on Dave Bastin but again he didn’t have enough to keep up whilst chasing. Dave advanced into the Top 4 for the second event in a row.
The third spot in the Top 4 was taken by Danny Mcquire after he beat Ashley Jones in their battle.
Aidan Clarence and Frazer Jamieson battled for the remaining place in the Top 4, it was a close battle that had to go for a one more time before the judges could decide in favour of Aidan.
We had the final four drivers set, the pressure was building to find out which one of these drivers would stand on the top step of the podium. Dave Bastin and Steve McConnell were the first drivers to battle to decide who would get through to the final. Dave just did what he had been doing all day, pulling away on his lead runs and sitting just off the door on his chase runs. He would take a well-earned place in the final.
Aidan Clarence lined up against Danny Mcquire, it looked like it was going to be a one sided battle but anything can happen as this battle proved. Danny led first but overshot the first corner after understeering on his initiation, Aidan overtook and held the lead position throughout the run. It was a big advantage to Aidan as they swapped over.
All Aidan had to do was run a good lead run and he would advance through to the final, that’s exactly what he did!
Danny lined up against Steve McConnell to decide who would finish third, the battle went one more time but it would be Danny Mcquire taking the final place on the podium.
The final battle saw Dave Bastin lead Aidan Clarence off the line on the first run, Dave was so quick, as he had been all day. He pulled away and by the end of the run it looked like the advantage was going to Dave.
Aidan put in a great lead run but it was never going to be enough to overturn the advantage that Dave had. Dave Bastin took the win and the top step on the podium with Aidan Clarence in second place.
The drivers took their places on the podium to celebrate in front of a crowd of friends, family, fans and supporters.
The Driven Racing Oils hard charger award was won by Steve Mcconnell who had finished fourth on his Driftcup debut.