The final round of the 2019 HEL Performance Driftcup season was held at Driftland in Scotland, the only purpose built drift track in the country and the ideal place to decide both championships.
As the event approached the anticipation built up amongst the drivers with four or five drivers in each class able to take the championship. Tom Van Beek held the lead after four rounds in the Non Seeded class with James Fenn-Bacon leading the Seeded Class; but would they be at the top at the end of the weekend?
The layout for the weekend was tight and technical, starting on the back of the track and running toward the pits before flicking the car into clip one. Clip two followed just a short way down the track and set the drivers on an outside line around the first corner where they would hit clip three.
Clip four was another outer clip on the tight infield section of the track, a quick transition onto clip five before a tight right hand hair pin with a clipping zone on the outside.
The last corner had clip seven on the entry, again on the outside to keep the lead driver on a wide line, sliding out to clip eight on the iconic Driftland wall.
The Non Seeded class got to grips with the track in their practice session on Saturday morning, everyone looked comfortable with the layout early in the session so it would be close in the battles later in the day.
Qualifying soon followed with each driver getting two runs to impress the judges and earn their place in the battles. Local driver, Stuart McLellan, topped the qualifying session with a score of 87.3 on his first run.
A couple of surprises from the session included Jay Wilding in second place with a score of 82 points and Ben Mears with a score of 75.3, a great run but it was so close that it was only good enough for 13th place.
The battles kicked off and we soon saw Tom Van Beek battle against Sarah Price, Tom drove well earning his place in the Top 16 and some more valuable points toward his championship. Rob Black then lined up against George Barclay, both drivers could take the championship but only one of them could advance through from this battle. It was a close battle, the judges needed two ‘One More Times’ before they chose Rob Black as the winner, putting an end to George Barclay’s championship hopes.
Max Cotton had an outside chance of winning the championship and he was doing everything he could to improve his chances as he battled against Eldin Paratusic before advancing through to the Top 16.
Ben Mears battled against Tom Van Beek during the Top 16, keen to end his season on a high and with his impressive performance so far during this round, he managed to take out the championship leader earning his way into the Great 8.
Rob Black kept his championship hopes alive as he beat JJ Stevens to advance in to the Great 8.
Stuart McLellan had to battle against a fellow Scotsman, Myles Moir, to get through into the Great 8, it wasn’t easy though as the judges needed a ‘One More Time’ before picking Stuart as the winner.
Rob Black was the next championship contender to exit the competition, Jay Wilding was on a charge and looked to have a point to prove as he beat Rob.
The Final 4 was set, Ben Mears. Jay Wilding, Max Cotton and Stuart McLellan had all made it this far with only Max able to take the championship from Tom Van Beek. Ben Mears and Jay Wilding battled first with a spot in the final on the line. It went ‘One More Time’ before Jay Wilding emerged victorious, he would be going through into his first Driftcup final.
Max Cotton and Stuart McLellan lined up next. Max didn’t have an answer for Stuarts speed and aggression, ending his championship hopes and leaving him battling for third place on the podium.
Max then battled against Ben Mears where he ran a great lead run allowing Ben to chase close behind. They swapped over and Max chased, pushing Ben around the track, earning the win and that important podium place.
The Final battle of the day saw Stuart McLellan take on Jay Wilding. Both drivers wanting to take the win, Stuart ran another great lead run with impressive pace, pulling a small lead over Jay. He then chased close behind, almost tagging Jay with his aggressive driving.
The drivers celebrated on the podium, Stuart McLellan took the win with Jay Wilding in second and Max Cotton in third.
The Driven Oils Hard Charger award was presented to Myles Moir.
The Seeded Class had their turn the next day with the morning practice kicking off the day.
The drivers were all looking comfortable with the track as the session went on, getting some great lead and chase runs between different drivers.
James Fenn-Bacon started the day with car issues so it was looking like a challenge for him to win the championship but it would be down to Alex Chapman, Mark Chapman and Jamie Stanton as they could all win if the battles went well for them.
The qualifying session saw Stuart McLellan at the top of the leaderboard for the second day running, this time with a score of 90.7 on his first run.
Zane Gittens finished in second place with 86 points and Chrissy Nailen in third place on 85.3.
The battles kicked off with Max Cotton battling James Moore, Max was consistent on both runs earning his first battle win in the Seeded Class.
Jamie Stanton was the first of the championship contenders to make his mark on the event, winning his first battle against Colt Harvey.
On the other side of the battle tree Josh Payne lined up against James Fenn-Bacon. Josh drove well on both of his runs, showing the judges enough to put him through to the Top 16 and put an end to James Fenn-Bacon’s championship hopes.
The next battle saw Will Foxwell beat Mark Chapman, another of the championship contenders.
Ben Mears was on a mission after missing out on a trophy in the Un-Seeded Class yesterday, he battled Arek Ladniak with an impressive chase run, almost pushing Arek along the Driftland wall. He had earned his place in the Top 16.
Alex Chapman was the last of the championship contenders to battle in the Top 32, he lined up against Callum Payne. Callum was the lower qualifier of the two but he managed to beat Alex and advance into the next round of the battles.
The Top 16 battles saw Ian Walpole and Jamie Stanton battle, Jamie chased close behind Ian before pulling a gap on his lead run, putting him through to the Great 8 and another step closer to the championship.
Ian Wyatt was putting in some impressive runs as he beat Gary Michie, his chase run was great to watch as he pushed Gary around the track.
Nathan Rudd and Callum Payne had a great battle with two ‘One More Times’ needed before the judges could pick a winner. This time it was Callum Payne advancing through to the Great 8.
Stuart McLellan looked strong as he beat Paddy Byrne to make his way in to the Great 8, could anyone stop Stuart from winning again?
Jamie Stanton made his way into the Final 4 after beating Max Cotton, Max gave him a challenge but it wasn’t enough although making it to the Great 8 on debut in the Seeded Class is still an impressive performance from the young driver.
The rest of the Final 4 was made up of Josh Moore, Ben Mears and Stuart McLellan. Jamie Stanton and Josh Moore battled first for a place in the Final, after one set of runs the judges couldn’t pick a winner so a ‘One More Time’ was called.
After the first run of the ‘One More Time’ it wasn’t looking good for Jamie as he headed to the pits with a de-laminated tyre. The rules don’t allow a change of tyres mid battle so he headed back out to the start line. He battled hard on the remaining run, securing the win, a place in the Final and enough points to win the championship.
On the other side of the tree, Ben Mears lined up against Stuart McLellan. Stuart led first with a run that was fast, deep on the clips and maintaining big angle wherever he could whilst Ben chased as close as he could get. They swapped over and Ben pushed hard with Stuart on his door, Ben had done enough to go through to the final ensuring that he would be walking away with a trophy this time!
Josh Moore battled Stuart McLellan for third place but as they came through clip 7 something broke on Stuart’s car, causing him to straighten and limp back toward the pits. Josh took the win, its not the way anyone wants to win a battle but anything can happen in motorsport.
The last battle of the day, Jamie Stanton had won the championship but could he finish the season on a high with a win and the final round too? He lined up against Ben Mears, both of them battled hard pushing each other around the track.
Jamie Stanton took the win, Ben Mears in second place and Josh Moore taking third place on the podium.
That’s the 2019 HEL Performance Driftcup season over, congratulations to our champions, Tom Van Beek and Jamie Stanton. Could you be on the grid next year? Details about the 2020 season will follow soon!