As the drifting season for 2015 begins to draw to a close we were incredibly excited to be invited to take part in the 2015 Gymkhana Grid finals taking place at Santa Pod Raceway on 24th-25th October. With an impressive grid of highly skilled drivers (with a fair few famous faces amongst them) alongside the competitive debut of not only the Hoonigan Mk2 Escort piloted by our Maxxis Tyres teammate Ryan Tuerck but also our supercharged V8 Nissan 370z with Shane Lynch at the wheel. Everything was in place for an awesome event.
With the qualification and the main event taking place on Saturday and Sunday we arrived early the Friday beforehand in order to attend a designated practice / media day. With minimal seat time in the new car prior to competing this was a great opportunity for Shane and Paul Smith to get acquainted with the circuit as well as their cars.
Gymkhana calls for a high grip style of driving and car setup which significantly differs from the conditions Shane and Smokey are accustomed in drifting. However after only a few runs, Shane had the course down to a T. Throughout the day we tweaked the suspension to achieve as much grip as possible which had a very positive effect on the timing for each successive run.
In true Team Japspeed style of course each practice run filled the area with clouds of smoke from the MA-Z1 tyres….with a few flames from the exhaust to go with it.
Despite being able to achieve high levels of grip (following some suspension tweaks) it became a challenge to topple those times and so the decision was made to drift the track and play to our strengths as much as possible.
Having had a full day of practice Shane and Paul had the opportunity to get to know the assembled media and VIPs a little better taking them on practice runs of the course ahead of qualifying the following day.
Starting early on the Saturday and having already qualified through to the finals taking place on Sunday both Shane and Paul spent the day practising and perfecting their technique as well as spending time familiarising themselves with the all-important sequence of manoeuvres the judges would be looking for.
It’s fair to say the fun never stops at a Gymkhana event and on the Saturday evening Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith was invited to put on a smoke show alongside Maxxis Tyres teammate Ryan Tuerck in the Hoonigan MK2 Escort, Monster Energy athlete Steve Biagioni in his PS13 and Dimitri Sribnyj in his Scoobyclinic Impreza. Accompanied by a plethora of pyrotechnics and lasers….as well as a little rain the evening demo went down a storm for the gathered crowd.
Heading into the main event on the Sunday both Shane and Paul had time for a few more practice runs before the main event. With practice going well, both drivers were prepared for timed runs.
Faced against a series of highly skilled and agile competitors both Shane and Paul put in very competitive runs. Unfortunately the technical complexity of the course would be the undoing for both high powered cars as an excess of power meant each driver not only had to work harder to keep their cars on point and manoeuvre around the course but concentration levels would also be at full tilt in order to navigate the correct course in the correct order as quickly as possible. Despite both drivers completing a series of successful runs they ended up comparatively slow compared to others in the field.
Having been on top form all weekend, 370z was unable to compete later in the day which would unfortunately put Shane out of the competition and leaving everything to play for with Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith.
Paul soon came up against Monster Energy athlete and previous Gymkhana Grid Champion Luke Woodham. Facing a veteran of the grid, Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith lived up to his name and filled the air with Maxxis Tyres smoke from those MA-Z1s putting on a spectacular display. Unfortunately he ultimately handed the victory to Luke.
All in all an incredible weekend and it was great to finally be able to bring the V8 370z to compete on home soil after so much anticipation. We’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of each of the classes at Gymkhana Grid; we can’t wait to do it all again.