With the 2015 drift season well and truly underway, the 11th and 12th July brought with it the third round of the British Drift Championship. As Shane Lynch was at Gatebil and with Danny Eyles unable to attend due to other commitments; Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith and Shane ‘Sully’ O’Sullivan would be leading the Team Japspeed charge for points and podiums at Teesside Autodrome.
As with all 2015 BDC rounds open practice kicked off on the Saturday morning and with the hot dry conditions both Sully and Smokey made the most of the available seat time, inching ever closer to the required clipping points and making the conditions over Teesside ever that bit cloudier.
With both drivers putting in run after successful run, it looked to be full smoke ahead as conditions remained clear for the pro competition the following day. Saturday afternoon saw a chance to make any final preparations, sit back and take in the sights and smells of the pro-am battles.
Come Sunday and both Paul and Shane were eager to get back out on track for qualifying and battles. With the morning activity following much along the same lines as the previous day, Teesside would be treated to plumes of Maxxis Tyre smoke and the roar of the 1.5JZ and RB25 powered S15s as the Japspeed duo put in a series of spectacular practice runs.
With a little luck in terms of the weather conditions a dry and grippy circuit saw the accurate and aggressive driving styles of both drivers rank highly in qualifying with Paul Smith qualifying 5th and Shane O’Sullivan right behind qualifying in 6th place.
With both drivers high in contention we head into the top 32 battles and first up would see Paul Smith drawn against Ian Philips. Widely known for his accurate and consistent driving style combined with a strong affinity with the circuit at Teesside Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith proceeded to the top 16.
Meanwhile Shane O’Sullivan would find himself drawn against Team MnM’s Matt Stevens. With two highly competitive drivers up against one another it would always be a spectacle to watch however on this occasion Sully’s aggressive technique would put him through to join his teammate in the top 16.
Onto the top 16 and Smokey would bring his tried and tested 1.5JZ powered Japspeed S15 up against the newly built R35 GTR of Simon Perry. Both highly experienced drivers, each with their own history at Teesside putting in a set of incredibly close runs. It would be the consistency and familiarity with his car that saw Paul Smith take the lead and go through to the top 8.
Similarly Sully would face equally challenging opposition in his top 16 battle against fellow Maxxis Tyres stable mate Christian Lewis in the ItsADriftLife R33. With both cars running Maxxis Tyres and both highly competitive drivers each with very different driving styles this would be an exciting battle with everything to play for. A close call for the judges saw Shane O’Sullivan through to the top 8 as well.
With both drivers now in the top 8, things were shaping up to be an incredible weekend for Smokey and Sully as each could take a place on the podium at this point. In his top 8 battle Paul Smith faced off against Mike Marshall in the Team MnM E92 M3. With both drivers riding side by side and filling the air with tyre smoke, the judges had a tough call to make. Unfortunately this tough decision would spell the end for Paul Smith’s weekend.
Not to be outdone and following fantastic form all weekend Sully was drawn against Mark Luney for his top 8 showdown. With both drivers ex-BDC champions the atmosphere at Teesside was intense as the two drivers took to the track. With very little between the two drivers no-one envied the judges job in deciding a winner. Unfortunately due an ever-so-slight difference in angle the judges put an end to Shane O’Sullivan’s weekend.
All in all a spectacular weekend and some of the best performances from the 2015 Championship so far however the action doesn’t stop there as we head to Silverstone this weekend for the annual TRAX event on the 19th July!
We’ll see you there!