Pirelli European Drift Championship - Round Seven - Snetterton25th September 2011
Following a top-class performance last Sunday at Snetterton, Andy Cooper won the seventh and final round of this year's Pirelli European Drift Championship in the RMS Nissan S14a. His opponent in the Final - and therefore the second-placed finisher - was Vince Noot in the Kleers-sponsored Nissan PS13, whilst Brett Castle in the Sumo Power NISMO Competition.com Nissan S15 claimed third place and, in doing so, became the 2011 Pirelli EDC Champion!
Acknowledged as one of the fastest Drift courses in the country, Snetterton sees competitors perform on a course that starts on the entry to the recently re-configured and very long right-hander of Coram, where initiation takes place at speeds of well over 100mph and flat in fifth gear! Drivers then have to slow down to under a third of their initial speed to flick the car through the tight 90-degree left at Murrays.
The technical demands of the track, coupled with weather that is more familiar in the height of Summer than late September, plus a turn out of huge crowds, set the scene for a finale to remember. Adding to the pre-event tension was the fact that Castle and his main rival Paul Conlan in the BC Racing Nissan S15 started the day on exactly the same amount of points, with the ultra-consistent Declan Hicks in the HEL Performance Toyota Cresta a close third making it a three-way battle for the title.
The usual eight invited drivers for each round of the Pirelli EDC was unfortunately down to six for Snetterton, with the SuperPro-supported BMW M3 of Steve Will and the SVA Imports Nissan 350Z of Tim Marshall both unable to take part in the final round of the season due to engine problems. This meant that the two highest qualifiers: Castle and Cooper, were elevated straight through to the Semi Finals.
Therefore, it was down to the remaining four to shoot it out for the other two places. First to go were the Two Toyota Drivers: Declan Hicks and Karl Farrar in his Cresta Drift Taxi. In the first run Hicks spun and handed a 10-0 advantage to Farrar. Even after a better second run, Hicks could not make up the deficit, which meant Farrar was through to the next stage.
Next to go were Noot and Conlan. In the first run, Noot's 'big' angle meant he had the edge, with Conlan having to pull the stops out in the second if he was going to get to the Semis and keep his Championship hopes alive. However, his car appeared to have developed a miss-fire and, although giving it his best, Noot came out on top and suddenly Conlan's title aspirations were dashed.
First of the Semis was between two the two different Nissans and two different driving styles of Noot and Castle. Despite this, their first run saw then level-pegging and when Noot had to initiate twice, it looked like Castle had the advantage. But, getting blinded by the enormous clouds of tyre-smoke that the high-speeds were generating, Castle missed his braking point, then had to straighten to make it through Murrays and, by doing so, Noot was through the final.
Next were Farrar and Cooper. Both drivers were so closely matched that, after the two runs where one led and the other followed - and then vice-versa - their scores were equal, which meant a 'one-more-time' shoot out. Cooper lost ground in the first run, which meant he had it all to do in the second. But when Farrar over did it and had to straighten mid-drift, the advantage swung back to the Nissan driver.
Sixth-to-third place shoot-outs
With the final and consequently the top two positions decided, there was still the business of sorting out the places behind them. In the play-off for fifth and sixth Conlan faced Hicks. With this now becoming the battle for second in the Championship and both knowing that the title was now Castle's, they gave it everything they could and, although a close run thing, it was Conlan who emerged from the smoke to take fifth place on the day and second in the final standings.
The battle for third and fourth was between the now crowned Champion and Farrar. Intending to end the season in spectacular style and now, with nothing to lose, Castle was on a mission. Although Farrar put in a perfect performance on the first run to see them tie going into the second, Castle's moves in his final run of the season were enough to reward him with his sixth podium result this year.
The very last two runs of the year were the domain of Noot and Cooper and, even though they had an event to win, it didn't stop them for putting on a show for the 1000s of spectators gathered on the banking on the inside of the circuit. Noot's Nissan came into view holding a massive angle, giving him the initial advantage during his lead run. However, sliding wide and then spinning in the smoke on the approach to Murrays in the second handed the victory to Cooper and he happily accepted the accolade of being the final Pirelli EDC winner in 2011.
After being awarded the Champion's trophy and having finished spraying the Champagne, a delighted Castle said: "It's been a fantastic year and I've enjoyed every minute of it. The car was brand new at the start of the season and for me, it was a new team as well, so to win our first championship together is a great achievement. I must therefore thank all of the guys involved and of course, Sumo Power and NISMO competiton.com for their support and for giving me such a great car to drive."
Once again the Pirelli European Drift Championship shared its day with the Time Attack Series, Snetterton also hosting the seventh and final round. For the fourth time this season Gavin Renshaw was the fastest man on the track and, by winning on the day, he also secured his position as 2011 Time Attack Pro-Class Champion.
And, as if that wasn't enough for a day's automotive indulgence, Sunday at Snetterton also featured the Modified Live show, the static displays by car clubs and individual owners, trade stands and a host of other attractions, looking more spectacular than ever in the late September sunshine. On track there were two rounds of the pick-up racing series, plus demonstrations by racing trucks and a stunt motorcycle rider.
Also adding to the activities on the day was the appearance of World Touring Car Championship front-runner Rob Huff, who had taken a weekend off from his usual occupation. Huff joined Castle and the Sumo Power NISMO Competition.com team to test the car for Motorsport News, who will be publishing an article about his first ever experience of Drifting in their Christmas edition.
This year's Pirelli European Drift Championship is sponsored by: Pirelli, Sumo Power, NISMO Competition.com Kleers, Cosworth, K-Sport, SuperPro, BC Suspension and Santa Pod Raceway.
Round 7 Results 1 Andy Cooper 2 Vince Noot 3 Brett Castle 4 Karl Farrar5 Paul Conlan6 Declan Hicks
Final Championship standings
1 Brett Castle - 58002 Paul Conlan - 56003 Declan Hicks - 54004 Vince Noot - 4900 5 Andy Cooper - 45006 Karl Farrar - 33007 Steve Will - 22008 Tim Marshall - 19009 Kieran Cameron - 500