Round 4 of the 2019 HEL Performance Driftcup season was held at the Three Sisters Race Circuit in Wigan. It was our second visit of the season so a new track layout was chosen to provide a new challenge to the drivers.
The layout started with a run over a hill dropping down into an outer clip 1 and 2 on the first corner.
A transition back across the track into another outer clip for clip 3 before joining the starting straight from the layout that was used at Round 1.
This time clip 4 & 5 required the drivers to transition down the straight and into the usual layout around Lunar Bend.
Saturday morning kicked off with the practice session for the Non Seeded class, the drivers would leave plenty of space for each other on their first few runs so that they could get used to the track layout.
A few drivers got to grips with the track early on and soon the majority of the grid were getting some practice at leading and chasing before the afternoon’s battles.
Qualifying came around quickly and each driver pushed to get a good score, Tom Van-Beek topped the leaderboard after his first run with a score of 75.3. During the second runs he would be the only driver to improve on that score with a run on 84.7.
Behind Tom the scores were close with only 10 points separating the next 12 drivers!
In the Top 32 battles the championship leading drivers started to pick off their opponents on their way to the Final 4. George Barclay made his way through the battles against Ryan Miller, James Goodfellow and Max Cotton.
Axel Hilderbrand had beaten Richie Gilbey, Ryan Hughes and JJ Stevens on his way to the Final 4.
On the other side of the battle tree, Rob Black had managed to get to the Final 4 after winning his battles against Harry Hudson, Mike Sandford and Ashley Shippey.
The last driver into the Final 4 was Tom Van-Beek, the top qualifier had battled Barry Wall, Jay Wilding and Craig Barber on his way there.
George Barclay and Axel Hilderbrand battled first to decide who would make it in to the Final and who would be battling for third place on the podium. Axel Led first with a strong lead run, following that with a great chase run earned him the victory over George and that place in the final.
Rob Black lined up against Tom Van-Beek on the other side of the battle tree. Both drivers performed will in their battle but the judges had seen enough to award the win to Tom.
Rob Black and George Barclay were left battling for third place on the podium, each driver wanting to win in order to score as many points towards their championship as possible. George led first with Rob close behind throughout the run. They swapped over and Rob made a mistake coming in to Lunar, handing the win to George.
The final battle saw a great first run between Tom Van-Beek and Axel Hilderbrand but Axel’s car would then break causing him to bow out of competition. It’s not the way anyone wants to see a final but its motorsport and things break all the time, usually at the worst times!
The drivers celebrated on the podium with Tom Van-Beek in first place, Axel Hilderbrand in second and George Barclay in third.
Ashley Shippey was awarded the Driven Racing Oils Hard Charger award for his performance throughout the day.
The next day the Seeded class took to the track for the morning practice session, joined by the top four from yesterday’s Non Seeded class.
The drivers were quick to find the limits of the track with a few dropping wheels off the track early on.
Once they settled into the layout they began to push themselves and their cars, sometimes beyond their breaking point.
As the practice session neared its end there were several drivers back in the paddock fixing everything from broken drive shafts to repairing their cars after a small fire. By the end of the session it looked like everyone had either repaired their cars or borrowed a car from Non Seeded drivers.
Qualifying kicked off and it was soon noticed that the three of the top four drivers from the Non Seeded class had chosen not to qualify, this means we will have a close battle for the championship at the final round. Axel Hilderbrand was the exception, he wasn’t chasing the championship so he chose to qualify with the Seeded class where he would score 73.7 points on his first run, ending the session in 6th place.
The top qualifier was James Fenn-Bacon with a score of 82.3, followed closely by Kristian Rice with 81 points.
Chrissy Nailen and Ant Thompson kicked off the battles, Ant’s car sounded rough as he tried his best around his local track, Chrissy would take the win this time.
Matt Roberts was looking strong as he battled Jake Lynch before advancing in to the Top 16.
Mark Chapman had a dramatic morning after a small fire caused some damage to his car, it wouldn’t stop him from though as he beat Steven May.
Jon Hudd and Arek Ladniak should have been a simple battle when you looked at the facts but Jon managed to take Arek for two ‘One More Times’ before taking the win in a borrowed car.
As the battles continued we soon saw a couple of drivers showing their determination to make it into the Final 4. Matt Roberts was the first to secure his place their after his battles with Chris Arnott and Chrissy Nailen.
Mark Chapman managed to charge his way there, battling Josh Payne and Like Tranmer along the way and somehow his car was staying together.
Jamie Stanton had earned his place in the Final 4 after beating Ian Wyatt, Callum Payne and Paddy Byrne.
The last place was taken by the top qualifier, James Fenn-Bacon, who had battled against Jon Hudd and Owen Atkinson along the way.
Matt Roberts and Mark Chapman lined up to battle first, the winner earning that important place in the final whilst the other battles for the remaining place on the podium. The drivers gave it everything and this time it was Mark Chapman taking the win.
Jamie Stanton and James Fenn-Bacon battled for the other place in the final, James had been driving well all day and this was no exception, he had done enough across both runs for the judges to award him the win and a chance at the top step of the podium.
Before that could be decided we saw Matt Roberts and Jamie Stanton battle for third place. Jamie Stanton drove well earning the win but Matt would have been happy to have made it this far through the battles.
The Final between James Fenn-Bacon and Mark Chapman was close enough on the first two runs that the judges could not pick a winner, a ‘One More Time’ was called for and this time there was enough to decide a victor.
James Fenn-Bacon took the win with Mark Chapman in second and Jamie Stanton in third. The drivers celebrated on the podium along with Jon Hudd who was awarded the Driven Oils Hard Charger trophy for his outstanding driving in a borrowed car.
We hope to see you all at Driftland on the 7th & 8th of September for the final round of the 2019 HEL Performance Driftcup season. Both class championships are still able to be won by several drivers to be there to see who will be crowned the 2019 champions!