The 2019 HEL Performance Driftcup season kicked off at Three Sisters Race Circuit last weekend with a whole new format.
This year there are two classes for twice the action, a non-seeded class for anyone wanting to join the championship and a seeded class for drivers that have scored points last season or that advanced into the championship after proving themselves in other events such as King of the Ring, Diemax challenge, RDC or SDC.
The track layout remained the same as last season’s visit but the challenging layout would still catch out plenty of drivers across the weekend. The initiation saw plenty of driver’s dirt dropping as they found the limits of the track before running around the outside of the left hander to clip two.
The drivers then had to transition onto another outer clip on the start of the long opening right hander that would take them all the way to the finish line with another two outer clips along the way.
The paddock had some recognisable cars dotted around including Rob Black’s S15, which is a well-known ex BDC car.
Harry Hudson would be competing for his first season in the ex BDC RA28 Celica.
The non-seeded class hit the track on Saturday morning for their practice session, it wasn’t long before they were getting to grips with the layout.
It was great to see so many new drivers to the championship performing well on their debut!
It was soon time for qualifying and it was clear to see the nerves getting to some of the drivers as they sat at line. Some of the drivers would be completing their first ever qualifying runs whilst others had more experience coming from other events.
All of the drivers pushed hard but there were some outstanding performances including Will Gibbs second run, earning him the top spot with a score of 76.3.
Rob Black and Nathan Rudd were close behind with 73 points each.
The battles kicked off in the afternoon with Max Cotton taking the first win of the day against Steven May.
Rob Black exited the competition early after a one more time against Lee Chambers.
In the Top 16, James Stanton and Charlie Hulme had to run another one more time as the judges couldn’t pick between them. James managed to get the win on the second of their battles but it was still a tough decision for the judges.
Nathan Rudd was looking strong as he continued into the Top 8 after winning his battle against Tom Van-Beek.
In the next stage of the battles we saw James Stanton defeat Max Cotton to make his way into the Final 4.
Colt Harvey joined him in the Final 4 after his battle with Damien Choppen.
Nathan Rudd was the third driver through into the Final 4, he had to battle one more time against Steve Knott to get through making it his second one more time of the day.
Will Gibbs was the last of the drivers to earn his place into the late stages of the battles, defeating Ashley Shippey, Tom Frewin-Clarke and Alex Chapman along the way.
James Stanton and Colt Harvey were the first pair to battle to find out who would make it into the final. It was another close call, one that the judges wanted to see again, this time around Colt Harvey would take the win.
That left Nathan Rudd and Will Gibbs battling for the remaining place. It was a close battle with both drivers keeping great proximity whilst chasing, Will Gibbs managed to take the win this time, could he take the top step of the podium?
We would see the battle for third place before the final, James Stanton and Nathan Rudd lined up with both aiming to take home a trophy. James Stanton’s chase run showed everyone in attendance how determined he was to get on the podium, rubbing his car against Nathan Rudd’s KE70.
The final battle, Colt Harvey vs Will Gibbs. Both drivers had great runs resulting in another one more time, the second attempt saw Colt Harvey put in a couple of great runs, earning him the win.
The drivers celebrated on the podium with Colt Harvey in first, Will Gibbs in second and James Stanton in third. Charlie Hulme was awarded the Driven Oils Hard Charger award for his impressive performance throughout the day. The top four drivers would all be offered the chance to compete in the seeded class the next day.
Sunday morning, the paddock felt different as the seeded class had now taken over the area with many of them arriving during the afternoon and evening the previous day.
The seeded class had many familiar faces with a few newcomers including Jon Hudd, the 2018 King of the Ring Champion.
The track went live and everyone took the opportunity to get some practice, for some it was successful but there were many back in the pits working on various issues with their cars after the winter rebuilds.
The qualifying session quickly came around, by now all of the drivers in this class are used to qualifying and know that they need to push hard on both of their runs, if not they run the risk of not making it in to the battles.
James Fenn-Bacon topped the order at the end of qualifying with a score of 77.7, followed closely by Will Gibbs with his first run earning him 76 points.
The battles kicked off with Egis Min battling King of the Ring runner up, Paul Parnell. Egis pulled a small gap whilst leading, taking the win this time.
James Stanton was looking strong after his performance in the non seeded class, he would beat Chrissy Nailen after a one more time in the Top 32.
Will Gibbs also advanced into the Top 16 in the seeded class after his battle with Owen Atkinson.
James Fenn-Bacon had a challenge to make it past the Top 32 but he would beat Ian Wyatt after a one more time.
In the Top 16 Stuart Adsley would beat a strong performing Kristian Rice, unfortunately what could have been a very close battle ended when Kristian lost a tyre.
James Fenn-Bacon had another one more time in the Top 16, Paddy Byrne would also have an early end to his day when his car broke down during the second battle.
In the Great 8 we saw Egis Min beat Will Foxwell and Will Gibbs take the win over Josh Payne.
Stuart Adsley took Jon Hudd for a one more time before being declared the winner and James Fenn-Bacon earned his way into the Final 4 by beating Matt Roberts.
Egis Min would chase Will Gibbs on his first run in the Final 4, keeping great proximity before swapping over and pulling a small lead earning his place in the final.
The remaining place would be fought over between James Fenn-Bacon and Stuart Adsley. James led first with Stuart following closely, they swapped over and James couldn’t keep as close this time around. Stuart would go through to the final leaving James to fight for the third place trophy.
Will Gibbs and James Fenn-Bacon had a great battle but Will Gibbs emerged as the winner, earning himself another podium place.
Stuart Adsley and Egis Min battled hard in the final, both drivers keeping great proximity whilst chasing.
Egis Min took the win and the top spot on the podium, celebrating with Stuart Adsley in second place and Will Gibbs in third. Paddy Byrne was awarded the Driven Oils Hard Charger award for his performance during battles.
It was a great way to start the season and the new format has shaken up the whole weekend with so many drivers able to compete against the best in their class. Be there at the Adrian Flux Arena on May 11/12th to see it for yourselves!