After years of chipping away and a number of runner-up results, Shane Gutzeit finally scored a long sought-after win at his track of Dezzi South Coast Raceway on Saturday.
Following a tough start to the 2017 SupaDrift Series in Kimberly, it would be a rollercoaster of emotions for drivers and fans alike, with all looking forward to an epic weekend of sideways action.
It turned out to be exactly that with locals stealing the show. Reigning national champion Gutzeit came good in a big way while Margate brothers Brendan and Gavin Puren shared the Driver of the Day Cup.
With practice starting on the Friday afternoon, drivers took on the infamous rollercoaster track, and got in as much practice as possible, honing in their skills for Saturday’s competition day.
Saturday morning saw drivers hit the track rather early as they wanted to make sure they were getting the correct lines in before heading out to qualifying in the afternoon. With Round One hosting a number of Western Cape Regional drivers, Round Two did not see many of those drivers compete, except for Shane Green. The rest of the field was made of KZN drivers and the handful of Gauteng drivers making the trip down.
One car everyone was anxious to see was Jason Webb’s 2017 Monster Energy, Ford Performance and Roush Ford Mustang dubbed the “Monstang”. Sadly, with all the man hours put in by Speedy Webb, Malcom, Steve Clarke and the rest of the Smoke’m team pushing to get the car running for the first event, they ran into an ECU problem which would see Webb not able to compete.
However, this just did not cut it so to speak, and along came Des Gutzeit to the rescue, lending Webb one of his Nissan Skyline R33’s from his stable. With Webb missing out on a whole day of practice as well as his first qualifying run, he went out in his borrowed car, which was not set up for drifting at all. On his first and only run of the day, he managed to score enough points to make him qualify in 15th place.
Recovering from a back injury, Mikey Skelton made his way back into the national championship in his newly wrapped 2017 Rockford Fosgate and Greensky livery, with a whole new rebuild on the motor. Back injury and all, he pushed through the pain and pushed his 350Z to limits during practice and qualifying, where he qualified in sixth place.
With only 15 drivers making qualifying points, the Top 16 would run pretty quickly as the sun sets pretty quickly over the South Coast in autumn. Before the Top 16 would get on the way, there was a small battle for the Silver Cup, with just a handful of drivers managing just enough points to battle it out. Green went up against Chris Landsberg in the Silver Cup final, with Green outdrifting him in both runs which gave him the win.
The Top 16 battles would see Paolo Gouveia Sr vs Paolo Gouveia Jr, Webb vs Jim McFarlane, Luke Maher vs Morne Venter, Gavin Puren vs Des Gutzeit, Skelton vs Riaan Stokes, Joey Govender vs Brendan Puren, Eric “The Viking” van Eyssen vs Carl Werner and Shane Gutzeit with a bi-run.
The wins went to Paolo Jr, McFarlane, Venter, Gavin Puren, Stokes, Brendan Puren, Van Eyssen and Shane Gutzeit, pushing these driver through to the Top 8 battles.
After a quick tyre change and cool down, drivers would head out to battle it out for their spot in the quarterfinals. The match-ups were Shane Gutzeit vs Venter, the Puren brothers, McFarlane Van Eyssen and Paolo Jr vs Stokes; the wins going to Gutzeit, Gavin, McFarlane and Paolo Jr; a great group of drivers who pushed it to the limits all day long.
Gutzeit gunned down Gavin and McFarlane beat Paolo Jr to set up the final and third-place battles. The battle between Paolo Jr and Gavin was a tight run, with great scores for both drivers, with the judges giving the win to Paolo Jr.
Finals time arrived and this was a final worthy of a championship finale with a couple of driver errors on the first run, with McFarlane being all up in Gutzeit’s door, giving him a slight kiss in the corner, which lead to an over rotation in the next switch.
With Gutzeit looking like he was going to spin out, McFarlane held back and spun out to prevent a collision, however, Gutzeit pulled out the over rotation and managed to carry on, only to take out the front clipping point resulting a zero score for both drivers on the first run.
Run two saw McFarlane lead and Gutzeit. Gutzeit seemed to have the upper hand and the judges scored the runs a 4/6 giving Gutzeit the win.
“The long wait is finally over, our first win at Dezzi in Supadrift Nationals! The monkey is off my back,” Gutzeit said
“This moment was made extra special by having my boy Brayden and beautiful supporting wife alongside me.
“To Dunlop Tyres, Sharpline Graphics, my dad, Steve Clark and the whole crew – you hold me in such high regard and I’m forever grateful for the blood sweat and ‘gears’ that you have put into my career,” he added.
The next round of the SupaDrift Series, the Riaz Alibhai Memorial Cup, will take place at Carnival City on 30 June and 1 July.
Photo: Shane Gutzeit with his wife Nicola and son Brayden. (Darren Supafly Townsley)