A newly resurfaced and renovated Three Sisters Circuit put the British Drift Championship grid to the test last weekend as the series descended on the small northern town of Wigan to take on the most technical layout on the 2018 series calendar.
Check out our event film ↓
With their Manchester HQ only a few miles away the newest venue to host the series is no stranger to Team Japspeed… but that isn’t to say this would be a walk in the park. Utilising the most unique drift layout ever attempted, this wouldn’t be your average drift day. Three Sisters would prove a true equaliser of horsepower and grip leaving everything to play for at the penultimate round of the series.
Arriving early on the Saturday it wasn’t long before the team were setup and work was underway giving the cars a thorough check-over ahead of practice in the afternoon.
Matt ‘Doorhunter’ Carter, Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith and Matt ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Denham were on top form throughout the afternoon practice session, making the most of the dry track; as huge clouds of Maxxis Tyres smoke engulfed the tight and technical go-kart track. Spirits were high as the team settled down to watch the Pro-Am competition ahead of their main event the next day.
An early start gave Matt, Paul and Matt another opportunity to get to grips with the challenging layout. An initially damp start gave way to considerably drier conditions as the morning wore on. Things were looking good for the competition to come.
Into Qualifying and first up Matt Denham faced some tough competition with the scores already laid down. His do-or-die driving style saw him push incredibly hard on run 1… so hard the RXV8 would slide a little too wide; losing the rear bumper in the process. An enthusiastic effort saw Matt begin his journey in 17th place.
Only a short while later the #Doorhunter took to the circuit eager to prove he’s still got it. In a plume of smoke from the super-grippy Maxxis VR1 tyres Matt Carter sailed around the track laying down a score of 88 points and earning himself 1st place overall.
Finally Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith played things safe in the unpredictable conditions. A strong performance earned Paul a very competitive 78.3 points and 7th position overall.
Having only partly learned his lesson Matt Denham attacked the Wigan circuit with only slightly less ferocity on his 2nd run… just enough to keep himself on the track. Crossing the finish line saw Matt double his run 1 score and earn himself 10th place overall qualifier.
A go hard or go home attitude launched Matt Carter off the line for his 2nd qualifying run however it would seem mechanical gremlins simply won’t leave his Japspeed R32 alone in 2018 as he was once more struck down by technical issues causing him to cut this 2nd run short. A strong 1st run however saw him qualify in 4th place overall.
Building on his already strong 1st run Smokey Smith laid it all on the line for run 2 and true to his reputation lit up the track as he scorched his way through each transition in an elegant display of sophisticated car control. A very competitive performance saw him hitting the competition hard with a score of 82 points and 9th overall qualifier. Having secured a place in the top 16 the team had a little extra time to repair Matt Carter’s car as top 24 battles got underway.
First up in top 24 Matt ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Denham came face to face with Mark Gemmell in his 650bhp 350z. Leading on run 1 Matt continued as he had earlier in proceedings with his enthusiastic driving style. A strong start from Matt sees him leave his adversary playing catch-up; handing Matt the advantage as they crossed the line. Making his intentions clear from the start Matt applied the pressure right from the off as Mark lead the way on run 2 with the RXV8 pinned to the door of the Driftland TV 350z. A unanimous decision takes Matt Denham through to the top 16.
Meanwhile Paul Smith takes to the circuit for his top 24 battle with young-gun Callum Marshall and his BMW E36. Leading on run 1 Paul is met with incredible aggression from his 26yr old rival as Callum pins the nose of the E36 right alongside the Japspeed GT86. Keeping his cool under pressure Paul sticks to his game-plan as he plants the power through the bends to try and keep some distance. Ever so slightly too much aggression forces Callum to drop back from the fight through Lunar bend leaving it all to play for in the 2nd run.
The pressure begins to build as Paul and Callum launch from the line for run 2. Right from the off Paul pushes hard, showing some serious aggression. Unfortunately this aggression would prove to be his undoing as the rear wheels of the Japspeed GT86 slipped off track; leaving him with a tough job to catch up – Callum also dropping a wheel off track as Paul regained some ground coming into Lunar bend. However it wasn’t enough to prevent handing the final spot in the top 16 to his competitor.
Heading into the top 16 and with his car successfully repaired Matt Carter lines up against Martin Wonnacott and his JZX100. Leading on run 1 Matt lays down a tough challenge as he keeps the distance from his rival throughout the run. Keeping the pressure on in the second run Matt consistently keeps the nose of the R32 tight to the doors of Martin’s JZX100. A unanimous decision secures Matt’s place in the great 8.
Next up sees Matt Denham take on the series leader Duane McKeever in his top 16 battle. Playing true to his aggressive driving style Matt makes a series of dives sticking the RXV8 right on the door of Duane’s 180sx. With everything to play for Matt knew he would have to keep his nerve on his lead run.
Facing incredible pressure from his rival Matt kept his cool throughout the run right up until the final bend as Duane planted the extra 150bhp of his 180sx on the line to bring him right alongside the RXV8. By only the slightest of errors Matt dropped a wheel off track; handing the place in the great 8 to his opponent.
Into the great 8 and Matt Carter faced Kevin Quinn. Leading on the 1st run Matt planted his foot to the floor through the first few bends leaving Kevin with a difficult task to catch up. Chasing in run 2 Matt was straight onto the door of Kevin’s 180sx. With only a slight let-up on the pressure the judges unanimously placed Matt through to the top 4.
For the first time in 2018 Matt Carter came head to head with 1st place qualifier Oliver Evans to compete for a place in the final. Chasing on the 1st run Matt applied the pressure, matching the moves of his rival throughout. With everything to play for and Matt to lead on run 2 the doorhunter became the hunted as Oliver pushed hard; keeping the stakes high as both drivers crossed the line. Unable to decide a winner the judges call ‘One More Time’.
Once again chasing on the 1st run the doorhunter applied the pressure early on but appeared to struggle to keep up. A clean run from both drivers but a lack of proximity from Matt leaves the advantage with Oliver as they line up for run 2. Faced with serious aggression from the VP Racing driver Matt comfortably plants the power to try and keep the distance from his opponent. A spectacular run from both drivers however by only the slightest of margins the win was handed to Oliver. This earned Matt his place on the 3rd step of the podium without a final battle as Driftworks driver Martin Richards couldn’t get his car running again having had a fairly spectacular failure in the previous round.
Team Japspeed would like to congratulate Duane McKeever, Oliver Evans and Matt Carter on taking the podium at this event. We can’t wait for the next round on 20th-21st October as BDC pays its last visit to Rockingham for the Grand Finale.