Despite the weather, a late change of venue and some early concerns about the track, round two of the Drift Allstars European Series (aka The Big Smoke) at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium fell into place on the day. The clouds parted at lunch time, the track surface quickly dried and before long, smoke was billowing from tyres as the international roster of drivers began pushing hard to qualify for the top 16.
The weather wasn’t the only thing to change. Last minute problems saw Australian Luke Fink behind the wheel of Steve “Stiggy” Evans Toyota Starlet. Driftworks Phil Morrison missed the round due to mechanical issues and reigning Champion James Deane returned after his round one problems.
As the sun came out, so did commentator extraordinaire and voice of drifting Bryn Musclewhite with the judging team.
Anthony Scott was one of the first drivers out and put on an impressive display, yet failed to make it to the top 16.
Luke Fink set the standard in qualifying, getting so close to the wall on the first turn that he clipped the entrance gatepost and span the Starlet’s rear wing 90 degrees.
Ireland’s Nigel Colfer qualified second in the Marangoni Tire Nissan S13 with some consistant wall-running.
And James Deane placed 3rd, repeatedly ripping sponsors banners from the walls with the rear of his Falken Tire Mazda RX7.
But as the top 16 battles began in earnest, disaster struck. Nathan Chivers was leading Luke Fink on their second run…
…when he slammed his car into the wall on the exit of turn one on their second run, collecting Luke Fink in the process and taking them both out of the running.
Luckily, Nathan and Luke walked away unhurt. The same can’t be said for their cars.
The biggest battle of the night was between good friends 2011 Irish Champion Alan Sinnot and 2011 Drift Allstars European Champion James Deane. Each battle was too close to call with the judges asking them to battle “one more time”, over and over again. Finally Alan Sinnot in his Nexen Tire AE86 Corrola took the win and a place in the semi finals.
In the first semi final Juha Rintanen simply had too much speed and power for Pete Barber to keep up with, seeing the Finn go through in the Achilles Tire/LBD Nissan S14. Colfer and Sinnot were next to battle for a podium place under the floodlights. Colfer took the win, leaving Sinnot with 3rd place.
While tyre changes and running repairs were carried out in the paddock, the even larger than expected crowd and 40,000 fans watching the live stream were treated to some entertainment in the arena.
In the final it quickly became evident that this was going to be a very tough battle with Juha Rintanen (aka the Fly Finn), a new driver in the series, facing off against Nigel Colfer, a seasoned driver and 2012 runner up. In the first run it was Nigel who led and pulled a significant lead, but towards the end of the run Rintanen had pulled the gap back. Juha lead the second run and put everything on the line, running wide and carrying as much speed as possible in the Achilles Tires Nissan S14.
As usual, the judges kept their decisions quiet until everyone has assembled around the podium and the champagne had been given a good shake.
First place to Juha Rintanen, second to Nigel Colfer and third to Alan Sinnot, leaving Juha leading the series as the spectacle moves to Punchestown, Ireland on the 28th and 29th July.
And to wrap things up, an amazing video from our friends at Aatomation. Look out for the in car footage of the Chivers/Fink accident around 2 minutes in.