UK Drift Championship Round 5: Silverstone

Team Japspeed at Silverstone for the final round of the 2021 UK Drift Championship.

The final round of the 2021 UK Drift Championship sees Team Japspeed head to Silverstone, the home of UK Motorsport. An event combined with TRAX, Britain’s biggest performance car show!

The team, represented by Matt Denham, Rob Black and Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith head into the event full of confidence after a solid team performance last time to secure first in both the drivers and constructers.

Qualifying

First up for the team in qualifying was Round 4 winner, Matt Denham. As expected, he carried an enormous amount of speed into Brooklands, laying down a massive marker to his competitors. Paul Smith was just as committed but a handful of understeer sent him wide of the first clipping point before regaining the line and finishing off the run nicely.

Last up to complete his first run was Rob Black. Unfortunately, Rob over-rotated on on entry into Brooklands before coming to a stop on the apex of the corner, leaving him with it all to do on his second run.

After a fantastic first run, Matt allowed himself the freedom to push even harder on his second. Perhaps too hard as the car snapped back straight and drifted wide at the first corner. Smokey’s second run on he other hand was nearly perfect, placing the JZ powered Toyota GT86 in all the right places.

Top 16 Battles

All three drivers made it safely through to the top 16 battles. Although unfortunately, qualifying results meant Matt Denham would face Rob Black in heat 5, Smokey would go up against Callum Payne in heat 7.

As always, Matt put down a very strong lead run, made even stronger thanks to a mistake made by Rob at Brooklands. All Matt had to do now was be within touching distance on the chase and he was almost guaranteed to go through. Tough this isn’t in Matt’s nature and he went in aggressive from the start. Pinning his JZ powered S13 against the door of Rob’s similarly powered S15! Matt went through despite a valiant effort from Rob.

Paul Smith’s battle with Pro2 champion Callum Payne was not without issue either. With both drivers making small errors during the first run. However, Smokey put it together for his lead run and ultimately had too much for Callum. The Team Japspeed Toyota GT86 was really starting to come into it’s own on Silverstone’s wide, fast course.

Great 8

Denham was once again faced with defeating former Team Japspeed ace, Steve Biagioni. While Smokey would do battle against Marcus Clare in the final heat of the great 8.

Devastatingly, Matt Denham suffered a broken driveshaft following contact with Rob in the previous round and was unable to make the start. There would be no repeat of Teesside, but Paul Smith was still in with a great shout!

Unbelievably, Smokey was also given a free pass to the final four after Marcus Clare suffered an engine failure on the grid! It was now Paul’s turn to do battle against Baggsy.

Final 4

After what was a very short great 8 battle for both drivers, the pressure was now on for a place in the final. Baggsy was first to lead and managed to get the jump on Smokey heading into the first entry zone. But after nailing the first corner Smokey was right back on Baggsy’s door before the pair made contact through Luffield.

Looking at the replays it was hard to see who was at fault for the collision. Fortunately, both drivers made it round to line up on the grid ready for Smokey’s lead run. A lead which turned out be more more simple than expected after Baggsy shut the car down early, guaranteeing Smokey a spot in the Final.

Final

The final would see Team Japspeed’s Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith up against Lwi Edwards. Lwi carried a huge amount of speed into the first corner but Smokey matched him all the way. Applying the pressure through Brooklands, Luffield and into Woodcote. It was Smokey’s best chase of the day and set him up nicely for his lead run.

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Paul Smith applied all his experience to the lead run to dominate the battle! Edwards did everything in his power to reach the door of the GT86 but couldn’t get close. It was textbook from Smokey and the judges agreed. In the end it was a unanimous decision and Smokey was crowned the winner of the final round of the 2021 UK drift Championship!