Paul Smith returned to the BDC on the weekend of September 14-15th and quickly got to grips with Wigan’s Three Sisters circuit – read how Smokey fared in Round 5
Images: Rob Borowik at Everything Drift
After a two-month break from competition, Japspeed’s Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith was raring to go for Round 5 of the British Drift Championship, which took place on the weekend of September 14th and 15th.
Fresh from the Drift Masters European Championship, the white and black Toyota JZ86 soon found a great rhythm around Wigan’s Three Sisters circuit, bellowing from one clipping point to another during Sunday morning Practice (Saturday’s session was cancelled due to overrunning Pro-Am Qualifying). The car’s short wheelbase really suited the tight and twisty track layout (a tried and tested design from last month’s round of DriftCup), so hopes were high for a strong Qualifying.
Run 1 was a solid banker effort, the trio of judges awarding an average score of 65.67 and inviting Smokey to take more risks second time round. “The amount of grip on track was far higher than I expected,” Paul said, “plus I was still on a damp/wet set up from Practice. I managed a clean first Qualifying run and found myself in the middle of the pack. On the second run, I pushed harder and although it wasn’t as clinically clean as I would have liked it felt better than the first run.”
The man from Spalding drifted to the very edge of the circuit on several occasions during his second attempt, smothering those clipping points and nailing the tricky transition in the middle sector. Judges deemed Run 2 superior to the first and gave Paul Smith an average score of 68. Once all qualifying runs were done, the Japspeed Toyota lined up 16th and so had earned a place in the Top 24 battles.
Smokey took part in the first fight, leading the V8-powered AE86 of Huw Gwion Savill. An awesome first run saw Paul leave his rival trailing in his Maxxis tyre smoke, the JZ86 putting its 650bhp to excellent use.
However, disaster struck in Run 2. Smokey’s attempt to keep his rival close right from the off ended in contact between the pair and judges deemed Japspeed’s driver at fault. “On the chase run, I entered with close proximity through clips 1, 2 and 3, however on leaving clip 3 I was expecting my opponent to be a little faster through the clip and unfortunately made contact with his rear wheel. At the time I didn’t even feel the contact, but it seemed enough to cause him to spin out.”
The incident cut short the Japspeed’s event, but not before the team watched Aurimas Vaškelis clinch overall victory in soaking wet conditions ahead of Oliver Evans and Adam Simmons. A big congratulations to him.
“All in all, I had a great weekend, and it was awesome to catch up with the UK fans again,” said Smokey. You can watch Team Japspeed drivers Paul Smith and Rob Black in action at TRAX at Silverstone on October 6th.