Round 3 of the 2019 HEL Performance Driftcup season returned once again to Teesside Autodrome, the birth place of the British Drift Championship.
It was the half-way point of the season, any drivers looking to take the championship in either class would need to push themselves as only a few points separate the top drivers.
The layout for the round is the same that the British Drift Championship uses, giving the drivers a challenge and allowing them to see how they measure up. The track has a fast entry into a slightly banked corner, it’s a small difference in speed separating a great run from a trip into the gravel.
The track then slows into two hairpins before the finish, providing some great opportunities for the chase driver to close up onto the door of the lead car.
The Non-Seeded class competed on the Saturday with the drivers soon getting to grips with the track in the morning practice session.
Qualifying followed with each driver completing two non-consecutive runs to impress the judges. Charlie Hulme came out on top at the end of the session with his second qualifying run scoring an impressive 90.7 points.
The battles kicked off in the afternoon heat with Max Cotton and George Barcley lining up first, Max would unfortunately have car issues and exit the competition at this stage.
Marcus Clare won his first battle in Driftcup against Arron Graham, it wasn’t as straight forward as he might have liked with a ‘One More Time’ needed before the judges could pick a winner.
Top qualifier, Charlie Hulme, won his first battle against Ben Mears advancing through into the Top 16.
George Barcley was looking like a strong contender as he won his Top 16 battle against Hayden Edmond, pulling away on his lead run.
Tom Van-Beek and Marcus Clare would have to battle through a ‘One More Time’ before the judges decided in favour of Marcus.
Stuart McLellan looked like he was on a mission as he chased Jay Wilding around the track before nailing the lead run putting him through into the Great 8.
Charlie Hulme would also advance through after a ‘One More Time’ against Danny Herald.
Callum Payne battled against George Barcley, the winner of this battle would take advance in to the Final 4 and a chance to compete in the Seeded Class the following day. Both drivers pushed themselves causing the battle to need a ‘One More Time’ before Callum would advance through to the next stage of the battles.
David Goldstraw put up a strong fight against Marcus Clare but it wouldn’t be enough to secure the win, Marcus would advance through into the Final 4 on his Driftcup debut.
On the other side of the battle tree, Damien Choppen and Rob Black battled for a place in the Final 4, Damien had strong runs in both the lead and chase positions earning him the win.
The last driver to advance into the Final 4 would be Charlie Hulme after his battle with Stuart McLellan.
Callum Payne and Marcus Clare battled for a place in the final, Marcus had an impressive chase run that Callum could not match, Marcus had done enough winning the battle.
Damien Choppen and Charlie Hulme had impressive runs during their battle, a ‘One More Time’ was needed and both drivers again managed to have great runs. This time around Charlie had managed to take the win, advancing into the Final.
Damien Choppen would bow out of competition after experiencing an issue in his previous battle, this would promote Callum Payne into third place on the podium without running the battle. It’s not the way anyone wants their day to end up but Callum had been driving well all day and deserved it.
Charlie Hulme was on a charge, qualifying first and making it through to the final. Could he take the win? Marcus Clare was on his debut in the championship and had made it this far, a single battle separated him from the top step of the podium.
Both drivers battled hard, it was easy to forget that this is grassroots competition drifting! After both runs Charlie Hulme would be declared the winner, taking the top step on the podium to celebrate. Marcus Clare finished second with Callum Payne in third.
Tom Van-Beek was awarded the Driven Oils Hard Charger trophy for his impressive driving throughout the day.
The following day it was time for the Seeded Class to take to the track, another warm dry day awaited the drivers.
Plenty of drivers got to grips with the track early in the session, dialling in their cars to the high grip levels that were available thanks to the hot day.
As qualifying came around the drivers would line up, ready for their runs. Some drivers looked nervous before their runs whilst others relaxed out of their cars. Once they were on the line though it was time to focus and do two of the best runs of their event.
Josh Moore topped the qualifying session with a score of 92 points on his second run.
Other impressive scores included the drivers from the Non-Seeded class with Charlie Hulme, Damien Choppen, Callum Payne and Marcus Clare all qualifying inside the Top 10 with scores above 78 points.
Could we see a Non-Seeded driver win the Seeded class? That was possible after the Top 32 battles with all four of those drivers advancing through into the Top 16. Callum Payne would be the first of those drivers to exit the competition as Kristian Rice would emerge the victor in their battle.
Marcus Clare beat Paul Parnell to advance through in to the Great 8.
He would be joined by Charlie Hulme after his battle with Steve May.
On the other side of the battle tree we had Josh Payne beat a strong performing Paddy Byne.
Damien Choppen battled 2018 King Of The Ring Champion, Jon Hudd. Jon had been experiencing issues with his car but battled well, it wouldn’t be enough to stop Damien from taking the win.
Top qualifier, Josh Moore, was the last driver to advance into the Great 8 after his battle with Arek Ladniak.
A repeat of the previous day’s final battle followed with the winner taking a place in the Final 4. This time around it was close enough for the judges to call a ‘One More Time’. Charlie Hulme then manage to take the win over Marcus Clare for the second time in two days!
Damien Choppen and Josh Payne battled with contact being made whilst Damien was chasing, another ‘One More Time’ was needed before Damien advanced into the Final 4.
Alex Chapman beat Josh Moore to earn his place in the Final 4.
Charlie Hulme and Chris Parnham battled next, the winner advancing into the Final whilst the loser would be left to battle for third place on the podium. A close battle followed but Charlie would make it through into his second Final of the event.
Alex Chapman and Damien Choppen lined up to decide who would battle against Charlie in the Final. Damien was on a mission with impressive lead and chase runs earning him the win and the place in the final.
This left Chris Parnham and Alex Chapman to battle for third place, Chris had a great share and a strong lead run, earning him the third step on the podium.
The Final followed, both drivers having come from the Non-Seeded class the previous day, the only question left was which one would get to stand on the top step? Charlie Hulme led first with Damien Choppen close behind before swapping over, Charlie was then unable to stay as close behind a charging Damien.
The drivers celebrated on the podium with Damien Choppen taking the win, followed by Charlie Hulme in second and Chris Parnham in third.
The Driven Racing Oil Hard Charge trophy was awarded to Nathan Rudd.
We wish the drivers luck that will be competing at the next round of the British Drift Championship and we hope that you can all join us at Round 4 of the HEL Performance Driftcup season as we return to Three Sisters Race Circuit on the 17th & 18th of August.