Last weekend saw Maxxis sponsored Team Japspeed return to the Scottish crowds only 3 weeks after being in Glasgow for Ignition festival; however, this time in Lochgelly at Driftland for round 4 of the British Drift Championship.
This circuit is the only one on the calendar that is purpose built for drifting – it combines walls with long fast flowing corners, ideal for fast, close drifting, which is certainly what took place!
Unfortunately due to other commitments Shane Lynch was unable to compete this weekend however having taken a break from BDC; Shane O’Sullivan was more than happy to step in and help push for the 2017 BDC Constructors Title!
Saturday saw all 3 drivers eager to make the most of the available practice time. It didn’t take long before Matt Carter, Paul Smith and Shane O’Sullivan were in full attack mode putting in some phenomenal runs; pushing harder and harder towards the judged line. Towards the end of practise Paul Smith suffered an input shaft breakage on his rear differential; regrettably putting an end to his practise session. With all hands on deck, the team set about stripping Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith’s differential to replace the broken input shaft. Before the day was through, the JZ86 was back up and running ready to compete the next day!
As the Scottish mist rose, practise began for 2 hours on the Sunday morning. The guys once again wasted no time getting out on track and began practising their twinning on the circuit now that they had dialled in the qualifying line. Paul Smith and Matt Carter soon got to grips with the line and began battling other cars as well as each other out on track. Having undergone an extensive winter rebuild; completely changing the feel and performance of the Japspeed S15 Shane made sure to play things a little safer in order to acclimatise himself to the car and circuit!
With practise over, qualification began immediately. The first Japspeed driver out was Paul Smith who put down a ferocious first qualifying run hitting every clip and entering with speed! This run placed him momentarily in 1st position. Paul’s 2nd run saw him sat in 5th position ahead of battles.
The next driver up was Matt Carter. Not a shy guy on entry he threw the car into the first corner with serious pace and put down some great runs! This saw him score slightly higher than Paul smith and sat him in 4th position ahead of battles.
Finally, Shane O’Sullivan was up – coming through the first corner, the car had slightly too much rear end grip pushing the car away from the 2nd clip. This unfortunately impacted the score and placed him in 19th position. With all 3 drivers in the top 24 Team Japspeed were ready for battle.
Matt Carter and Paul Smith were sat safely in the top 8 meaning that they did not have to compete in the first set of battles and were through to the top 16.
Meanwhile Shane O Sullivan headed out to battle Matt Stevenson from Slide Motorsport. Shane and Matt both battled well on each of their runs with good proximity and speed; both staying on the qualifying line very closely. A difficult decision however after some deliberation, Matt was awarded the win which unfortunately put an end to Shane’s weekend.
With Matt Carter and Paul Smith remaining in the top 16 battles it was Matt Carter VS Denise Murphy up first to battle. With a bit more power, Matt was able to pull a good gap on Denise on his lead run giving him the advantage into the second run. Chasing Denise into the first corner, Matt left no room for error as he covered the lead car proving his #doorhunter title. The judges awarded Matt the win and he progressed through to the top 8.
Next up saw Paul Smith to battle Driftworks driver and owner, Phi Morrison. On both lead and chase runs both drivers demonstrated phenomenal skill and the judges couldn’t decide between the two drivers so requested a one more time. Paul chose to chase as the higher qualifier and with nothing to lose put in an incredible chase run throwing his car onto Phil’s door –cleared taking a leaf out of Matt Carter’s book. Following that run the win was awarded to Paul sending him through to the top 8 to join his teammate – literally.
Top 8 battles pitched teammates Matt Carter and Paul Smith against one another. The two have practised together multiple times and know the capabilities of each other’s cars. Paul knows more than anyone that Matt Carter has earned his #doorhunter name by being a great chase driver. With this in mind he knew that on his chase run he would have to get as close to Matt as possible to win over the judges. They both entered the first corner with ferocity and Paul pushed hard onto Matt’s door. However, coming into the hairpin he pushed slightly too hard causing him to spin out and score a 0 for that run. This would send Matt through to the top 4 battles.
For a place in the final Matt Carter came up against Jack Shanahan, who is known to be a tough battle with him and Matt meeting multiple times throughout the years exchanging wins between themselves. Jack was to lead first giving Matt the opportunity to hunt him down. However, when the lights turned green Jack’s reactions got the better of Matt and he got away from the line first causing Matt to sacrifice his line in order to catch back up with Jack which he achieved by the second corner. However, this error sent Jack through to the finals and sent Matt through to his last battle to fight for 3rd place.
For his step on the podium, Matt was to face Aurimas Vaskelis. Matt was in the chase position for the first run and knew that to stand a chance of seeing where he was going he would have to get really close to Aurimas due to the sheer amount of smoke that those tyres produce! Entering the first corner Matt threw himself onto Aurimas’ door and kept the pressure on. This led to Aurimas going off circuit and scoring a zero for that run resulting in Matt Carter coming in 3rd place for the weekend and maintaining his lead in the Championship.
Not only did Matt Carter maintain his lead but Team Japspeed moved up to 2nd place in the Team Constructor’s Championship closing the gap on 1st place coming into the final round!