Another sublime showing in the final round of the SupaDrift Series at Carnival City on Saturday saw Gavin Puren from Margate land his first championship podium.
South Africa’s top drifters descended on Boksburg for a high horse power, tire-smoking weekend like now other! Over 2000 petrol heads were treated to two days of world-class competitive drifting as 25 professional drivers competed for the top spot and the championship title.
Puren placed second in the series finale, succumbing to Jim McFarlane in the final, which saw the South Coast star finish third overall in the championship.
McFarlane was crowned 2017 champion, seizing the crown from Oslo Beach ace Shane Gutzeit – who took time away from the sport for the majority of the year – while Paolo Gouveia finished second for the year.
Drivers coming from as far as Cape Town and Mozambique fired up their fully customized, high-powered drift machines on Friday morning for official practice.
Drivers had till Saturday morning to perfect the Round Six track before having to put down qualification runs in front of the judges to make it to the Top 16 and final tandem eliminations.
The lunchtime break saw something a little different with the addition of the Drum Dash – a time trial autocross race around a custom course wherein local drivers had the opportunity to qualify for the illustrious Gymkhana GRiD event, happening on November 18-19.
Gymkhana GRiD is a Ken Block spectacular event, hosted at Carnival City; twenty-two international drivers will take on the local contingent to see who rules the GRiD. SupaDrift competitors JP van der Spuy and Riaan Stokes, driving for Dragon Energy, each qualified with Golden Tickets; as well as Mathys Naude and Stuart Gregory.
Port Edward-based Gregory is a Roof of Africa veteran and showed he’s equally capable on four wheels and also came away with the Driver of the Day award. Clare Vale, the only woman competitor, happened to pick up a wildcard place in her campaign to topple the boys.
The weekend’s racing continued after lunch, where drivers went into qualifying rounds to see who would be the best and be top of the ladder going into tandem battles. McFarlane, a local driver, in his Achilles Tyres 350Z Nissan pulled out the stops to become the top contender for the day followed closely by Eric ‘the Viking’ van Eyssen.
Drivers who impressed with new-found skill and an unrelenting pushy driving style like De Wit Oosthuizen, a young gun hailing from Pretoria, made a name for himself and certainly brought his full blown talent to the table, however, losing narrowly to Morne Venter in the Top 16.
Mikey Skelton driving his 350Z Rockford Fosgate machine beat Jason Webb, who was struggling in his ‘Monstang’ which seemed to bear some gremlins and subsequent clutch problems.
Van Eyssen took charge against a fired up Gregory who forced the One More Time (OMT) and whose efforts have been earmarked as a up and comer for the 2018 season, and similarly Riaan Stokes driving for Dragon Energy S13 Nissan beat Carl Werner from the Western Cape.
Puren took on Armand Bronkhorst and even under the brave attempt of Bronkhorst, Puren came out tops. Gouveia fought hard against Vic Pardal, who seemingly drifted wide in the battle on the last corner and who was passed by Gouveia; taking the judges to the replay, and eventually affording the Natalian the win. Mathys Naude back in drift action eliminated Joey Govender, up from KZN.
The Top Eight battles flew by and all drivers seemed to impress. One knew as a spectator that the semi-finals and finals were going to be a closesy-contested event. McFarlane was definitely on top of his game and handed his second round opponent, Venter, a clean sweep. Gouveia had to go OMT against Skelton but came out tops and moved into the semi-finals, as did Puren and Van Eyssen, who found some great form in the latter part of the day.
A semi-final run between Gouveia and McFarlane to decide the Championship saw a contentious protest come from Gouveia but after significant reviews of the battle, judges deemed McFarlane the winner, who also at that stage walked away with the championship.
Puren and Van Eyssen rivalled and competed hard in the battle against one another in the Top Four; which could have gone either way; Van Eyssen eventually eliminated by Puren and setting up the finals and third/fourth run off.
Van Eyssen and Gouveia’s third/fourth battle was tight but saw the on-form Gouveia walk onto the podium in third place.
The final battle between Puren and McFarlane went off ablaze but Puren left a gap on the chase, which saw McFarlane take a clean sweep for the day’s racing.
New champion McFarlane stated, “A big thank you to my sponsors especially Achilles Tyres and all the other drivers – I had to throw down some rubber and work for it. The level of driving this weekend was up a notch again and makes the win feel that extra bit special. I enjoyed each and every tandem and the guys that pushed me to drive as hard as I could.”
SD 06 Results:
1st – Jim McFarlane
2nd – Gavin Puren
3rd – Paolo Gouveia
Driver of the Day – Stuart Gregory
Golden Ticket winners – Gymkhana GRiD
RWD – JP van der Spuy, Riaan Stokes, Mathys Naude, Stuart Gregory and Clare Vale
1st – Jim McFarlane
2nd – Paolo Gouveia
3rd – Gavin Puren
4th – Eric van Eyssen
Photos by Darren Townsley/SupaFly Media