For round 3 of the 2016 Driftcup season we headed to Three Sisters Race Circuit in Lancashire, this is the second time that we have visited this track after it proved to be a great event last season for the drivers and fans.
The drivers would be pushing hard this weekend for valuable championship points as this round marked half way through the season.
Could we see another strong performance from drivers that have already finished well this season such as Mark Webb?
Or would this round throw someone else into the mix?
The layout features a flick entry onto an outer clip midway around the left hander before transitioning onto another clip around the outside of Lunar Bend.
This corner then opens out onto a short straight, the drivers would need to keep their cars on an outside line here for clip 3 before the double apex right bend featuring another clip, this time on the inside of the track.
This final section of the track always proves difficult for the drivers as the correct line is needed from the exit of Lunar Bend in order to build speed and maintain angle, it’s easy to run wide onto the grass or straighten out through here.
The practice session kicked off with a damp track, many of the drivers were struggling to get the grip levels needed to link the track early in the session.
Later in the session it dried out and the speeds increased along with the grip levels, the drivers started to push as it neared the end of the session, all of them trying to get a perfect run on the qualifying line.
Arron Stevens and Mike Walton were both looking strong once the track had dried out with fast, smoky runs, using all of the track on the way out of Lunar Bend to carry the speed through the final clips, could this be their day?
A quick break to let the drivers change tyres and make sure they were ready for qualifying followed the practice session.
A downpour soon had everyone sheltering in their cars, behind vans and under their awnings. It was the opposite of what everyone wanted as they would be heading out onto a track and into the unknown. Many drivers were caught out on their first qualifying runs by the lack of grip or by the puddle that had built up on the transition between the first two clips.
As the session went on the track dried out and by the second runs the drivers were able to push themselves and their cars.
The top qualifier was Maciej Hawrysz with a score on 84.7 on his second run.
Chris Taylor got a score of 80.7 on his first run getting him second place, ahead of Callum Marshall in third with a score on 80.0.
The battles kicked off in the afternoon with Mark Webb soon showing his amazing chasing skills, sitting inches off the door of the lead car. He would knock Nathan Cox out of competition early in the Top 32 battles.
Second place qualifier, Chris Taylor, looked to have a good battle on his hands with Andy Stroud but Andy ran wide on his lead run, spinning out and handing the win to Chris.
Stuart Maclachlan in his BMW E36, upset the order as he knocked out higher qualifier, Andrzej Mania, after a close battle.
Top qualifier, Maciej Hawrysz, lost his battle against Tom Hutchison who was in another borrowed car for this round. Tom had pinned it on Maciej’s door during his chase run before pulling a small gap on his lead run, he was looking on form but could he take it all the way?
Mike Walton left a huge cloud of smoke as he knocked Scott Sargent out of the Top 16, could it be Mike’s day?
Kriss Darling had been impressive again throughout the morning practice and qualifying, he came up against Mark Webb in the Top 16 and couldn’t maintain proximity during his chase run, dropping back and handing the advantage to Mark.
Chris Taylor would advance through to the Great 8 by defeating Simon Conoscenti, almost touching as they exited Lunar Bend on Simon’s lead run.
Mike Walton’s day ended in the Great 8 as Mark Illand knocked out another driver, he had been consistent through the day and was proving to be a real threat as he was the first driver into the Final 4.
Mark Webb joined the Final 4 after a close battle with second place qualifier, Chris Taylor, with both drivers showing a great example of maintaining close proximity to the lead car.
Stuart Maclachlan was the third driver to make it through to the Final 4, after beating Callum Marshall. They had a close battle that went One More Time, as they lined up Callum’s clutch decided it had had enough and Stuart advanced through.
Tom Hutchison would round out the Final 4 as he knocked Ian Lonsdale and his Volvo powered BMW E36 out of competition.
The first semi-final battle between Mark Webb and Mark Illand was another example of Mark Webb’s impressive chase runs, pinning it on the door coming through Lunar Bend and staying there throughout the rest of the run. It would be enough to see him advance to the Final.
Stuart Maclachlan and Tom Hutchison battled for the remaining place in the Final, with Tom coming out the victor after pulling away on his lead run.
Stuart would then battle Mark Illand for third place and the bottom step of the podium. Mark Illand managed to pull away on his lead run, using all of the road to get the perfect line around the track, it was enough to earn him that spot on the podium.
The final battle between Tom Hutchison and Mark Webb wasn’t one to be missed! Both drivers pushed hard, after the first run it could have gone either way. On the second run a mistake cost Tom and handed the win to Mark Webb.
The top 4 drivers then lined up to celebrate in front of the crowds with a four car train around the track, it’s a great way to see the skill and trust of these drivers, all of them maintaining close proximity for no reason other than for fun.
The drivers then took the chance to collect their trophies, spray some champagne and thanks their friends, family and fans for their support. Mark Webb had taken his second win of the season, with Tom Hutchison in second and Mark Illand in third.
Chris Taylor was awarded the Aford Awards Hard Charger trophy for his impressive driving, particularly his chase runs in the battles.
The top four drivers will all get the opportunity to compete at Round 3 of the British Drift Championship at Teesside Autodrome on the 16th & 17th of July. The next round of Driftcup also takes place at Teesside Autodrome, join us on July 30th as the drivers will be pushing hard improve their championship standing as the season heads into its penultimate round.