Port Elizabeth has officially been declared a drought disaster area, with water saving measures in place all over the city and its surrounds. The drought seemed to carry over to the SupaDrift national drift series as the top drifters arrived in the city.
There were many noticeable absences in the field with no sign of defending champion Shane Gutzeit or his father Des Gutzeit, also missing were Carl Werner and a host of Cape Town based drivers such as Shane Green and Sean February.
Those that did make the trek to the midway point were guaranteed a spot in the main show as only 17 drivers arrived to compete with Tommi Beirowski unfortunately succumbing to drift gremlins before qualifying started, leaving only 16 drivers to battle it out.
Even though we were in a drought stricken area, the drivers made the best of the dry conditions and attacked the high speed track with everything they had and the ever changing enviromentals meant that many were struggling to find the all important traction.
Team Puren put their best foot forward with Trevor Puren taking 16th spot while brothers Gavin and Brendan qualified high up the ranks. They would eventually face off in the later stages and find themselves somewhat lacking in the tyre department as the rough track surface simply ate up all their rubber. The drift family rallied, tyres materialized and they were able to compete until Gavin scooped second place.
Championship leaders Paolo Gouveia and Jim McFarlane found themselves facing off early on in the battles meaning that the winner of their battle would lead the championship points ladder at days end. Jim McFarlane would do just that by taking third place while his partner, Mike Skelton, who had shown a true return to form by qualifying in third place, would see his hopes of a podium dashed when he lost out in the early stages to Gavin Puren.
David Rae impressed with a number of solid runs but he may still need to work on his tandems a bit and Clare Vale was able to get some valuable track time at her sponsors, Continetal, home track. Joey Govender unfortunately spent some time off track as his S15 struggled for traction and team mates JP van der Spuy and Riaan Stokes also went farming a few times. A special mention must be made to the gentleman drifter, Eric van Eyssen, who has really elevated the sport leaps and bounds and continues to improve at every event. The the man with the best looking build by our standards, Armand Bronkhorst, wowed the crowds in his V8 powered RX7, earning him the coveted Driver of the Day award.
The man on a mission was two time SA champ, Jason Webb, who had a slow start to the season but is making up for it in spades with his sights firmly set on taking another championship. Jason has come back from a major points deficit and with the lead of the championship changing hands tree times over the last 4 months, and with his first place qualifiers and wins in two rounds back-to-back, the possibility of him taking another championship before the end of the year are a definite possibility.
Jason rampaged through the field and ultimately took the win and after pumping that much smoke into the air making clouds, the weather service just couldn’t help but dump some much needed rain on the city that evening.
The race fans of P.E. never disappoint and stayed until well after dark doing meet and greets with the drivers and showed that motorsport is alive and kicking, even if they don’t have water.
SupaDrift returns to Dezzi South Coast Raceway for the next exciting installment.