The competitive drift season officially kicked off in fine form with the first round of the WOMZA South African Drift Championship at the Rock Raceway. With the Rock Raceway drift schedule returning to a monthly event on the first Saturday of the month, the series will comprise of 9 championship rounds, with additional appearance points available for drivers who attend the Rock Mania events in January, July and December.
A relatively small field of 17 drivers signed up for the days events which would mean that one driver would be eliminated after the qualifying and when Marisca Dyke scored a double zero in her qualifying attempts, it seemed the judges task was made easier. However, later in qualifying, Mathew Cooper also scored a double zero which would lead to a sudden death, single run for both drivers to see who would claim position in the elimination rounds.
SA Argus’ Lee-Roy Frans returned with fine form and took the top spot, followed by his father and SA Argus teammate, Hannes Frans in his Nissan Skyline R32. Kenda Tyres’ Tim Stephens in his Nissan Skyline R33 put together two tidy runs to claim the third position.
- Lee-Roy Frans Nissan Silvia S15
- Hannes Frans Nissan Skyline R32
- Tim Stephens Nissan Skyline R33
- Issufo Ussuman Nissan Skyline R33
- Larry Smith Toyota Supra JZA80
- Waseem Ismail Nissan Silvia S14
- Theo de Wet Nissan 200SX RS13
- Fred Cooper Snr Nissan Skyline R33
- Shaun Lamprecht Nissan Skyline R31
- Juan du Toit Nissan Skyline R32
- Dennis Palm Nissan Skyline R30
- Danie Herbst Nissan Silvia S14
- Robert Dyke Nissan 200SX RS13
- Paul van Schalkwyk Nissan Silvia S14
- Marinus Strydom BMW E36
- Marisca Dyke Toyota Supra JZA80
In the Top 16 Eliminations, Lee-Roy Frans would defeat Marisca Dyke and Fred Cooper would clip cones in two sections of the track to hand the win to his opponent, Shaun Lamprecht.
Larry Smith was paired against Danie Herbst and it would be Smith that would progress to the Top 8 where he would be joined by Issufo Ussuman who only had a single run up against Robert Dyke before retirement would end Dyke’s chances.
A spin from rookie driver, Waseem Ismail, would hand victory to Dennis Palm who would find himself up against Tim Stephens after Stephens dealt with Paul van Schalkwyk.
Theo de Wet and Juan du Toit would face off against each other and despite rocky runs from both, the judges awarded the win to de Wet. The final final pairing of Hannes Frans and Marinus Strydom would see Frans progress after Strydom spun out in his chase run.
The Top 8 battles saw the drivers bring their best skills to the party in what was frankly a very impressive display of driver skill.
Lee-Roy Frans and Shaun Lamprecht had an extremely tight first battle that would end up with the judges calling for an OMT, sending the drivers back to the start. After another tightly fought battle, the judges awarded the win to Frans, but it was to be short-lived.
In a fantastic display of sportsmanship, Lee-Roy Frans approached the judges box and informed the judges that he had in fact, clipped a cone in the final moment of the run and that the decision should be reversed. After consulting with both teams, the win was given to Shaun Lamprecht instead. This was met with cheers from the crowd, and the odd standing ovation. It’s great to see that despite the desire and passion of the drivers, sportsmanship and camaraderie still prevails.
Larry Smith would progress to the Semis by defeating Issufo Ussuman and would be paired against Lamprecht. The second Semi final would feature Time Stephens who beat Dennis Palm and Hannes Frans who defeated Theo de Wet.
The first Semi-final saw yet another tough battle transpire with Shaun Lamprecht and Larry Smith going head-to-head in fine form. Too much commitment from Larry Smith would see him charge in too hard and over-rotate in his chase run.
Tim Stephens and Hannes Frans undoubtedly had the pairing of the evening with the competition so close that the judges would call two back-to-back OMTs. Eventually, it would Hannes Frans that progressed, making it a Lamprecht / Frans final.
The battle for third would see Tim Stephens take the final spot on the podium up against Larry Smith in a tidy run with great angles and smoke.
The final had the two drivers, Hannes Frans and Shaun Lamprecht, pull out all the stops. Frans ran a high line into and through the first turn, trying to gain an advantage over Lamprecht but Lamprecht was game and followed without hesitation. Separating the two was tough but it was in Frans’ chase run that he showed more control with tighter proximity which would lead to a narrow victory.
- Hannes Frans SA Argus Nissan Skyline R32
- Shaun Lamprecht Old School Nissan Skyline R31
- Tim Stephens Kenda Tyres Nissan Skyline R33
The next round of the South African Drift Championship takes place at the Rock Raceway on 4 March 2017.