Published on October 17th, 2017 | by Alex Gilmore1
Honeywell Garrett International Drift Challenge 2017
As the sun began to set over Sydney Motorsport Park this past weekend there were a few sounds in the distance. These included the MCA Suspension Hammerhead s13 idling down as well as Under Suzuki/Scorch Racing’s insane s15 returning back to the pits. For one none the wiser – it’d seem like the day was over. However, the night had only just begun! After a few PA announcements the silence was broken by some of the most glorious sounds to have ever graced my ears. Mad Mike’s three rotor buzzing into life along side the infamous 1300hp 26B FATBOY Aristo. Daigo Saito’s 3.4L 2JZ Lexus brought the noise as well! For the RB guys, one couldn’t forget the 2.8L RB26 screaming into life from Jake Driftsquid Jones’ BMW M3.
It was time for the Honeywell Garret International Drift Challenge! With a field packed with some of Australia/New Zealand’s best drivers. Daigo Saito had also made the trek across from Japan after taking out second place at D1GP Odaiba the previous weekend. With none other than Keiichi Tsuchiya sitting at the judging panel, we all knew we were in for a good time! A little side note; whilst this was an event that many would describe as a V8 Wisefab field, it really did have something for everyone. With 1000+ hp rotaries, a VR38DETT powered 240z, SR20 AE86s, JZs, V8s, there was something for all to enjoy!
Luke Fink kicked things off with the first qualifying run of the night. After overcoming clutch issues through testing, he threw his recently purchased SR20DET AE86 Levin into the first right hander! Fink’s consistency filling outer zones with the expected corolla style snappy transitions landed him in 17th position with a qualifying score of 87.
With a catalogue of new knuckles and suspension parts, Levi Clarke steered his turbo V8 s15 around the course also scoring an 87.
It was no surprise that Mike Whiddett put on a show as he unleashed his 20B turbo RX8 onto the circuit. As expected for such a high status driver, the crowd really made some noise for the globally regarded Kiwi! Whiddett scored a near flawless 99 landing him the number one qualifying spot.
After competing at Bathurst the previous weekend, Shane Van Gisbergen had his drift shoes on! Piloting the MCA 370z, the Giz score 94 points, equal with Jake Driftsquid Jones.
Even amongst a field of famous international drivers, the crowd responded to one local competitor a touch more than anyone else. With a car that arguably oozes the most style of all entrants, it was none other than Matt Russell in his SR20 AE86. There’s just something about the style of his car that works perfectly! The crowd could be heard as the sweet sound of an SR20 corolla made its way through the course as Russell scored an 84 in qualifying.
By the end of the first evening, qualifying was wrapped up.
After another full day of Time Attack and watching Tim Slade take out first place in the MCA Hammerhead s13. If you get a chance and haven’t seen it yet, watch Slade attack Turn 1 at 289km/h. The aero makes it look like the car is on a slot car track! With sunset approaching though, it was time for some drift battles!
The night started off with a practice session to give drivers a feel for their cars. Whiddett, being the first place qualifier had a bi-run automatically landing him in the top 16. Supercar driver; Shane Van Gisbergen edged out DCA superstar Blake Paterson. In a repeat of last year, Matt Russell was up against Brad Tuohy, with Russell taking the win. The amount of smoke coming off every car in the field made it extremely hard for the chase cars, crowd and judges to be able to know exactly what was going on!
As the night moved into the top 16, a light shower consistently rained down on Sydney Motorsport Park. Just like in the year’s earlier round of FD Japan: Ebisu. Spectators went from struggling to see due to the massive walls of smoke, to being able to precisely observe every piece of the action as the wet track resulted in smoke-free drifting. In one sense, this partially evened the playing field for the lower powered drivers.
Whidett continued through to the top 8 after edging out Darren Kelly in the RB3.4 powered R35 GTR from New Zealand. Whiddett didn’t escape unscathed however, with the ripple strips tearing a hole in the sump of his mental RX8. Rob Whyte continued to show his form in the wet, pushing through to the next round as well. After a shaky first run from both drivers, Van Gisbergen got the upper hand over Russell. The noise of Jake Jones annihilating the limiter on his RB28 BMW was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard, however it wasn’t enough against Beau Yates and Yates progressed through to the top 8. Whilst battling engine issues throughout the entire event, Fink pushed on, taking the win over Michael Prosenik’s LS powered S13, who after qualifying second, was looking like one of the drivers to beat.
The wet conditions continued into the top 8, giving spectators a show as drivers stayed door on door. Whiddett’s team fixed the sump on the RX8, however Rob Whyte took the win in his NASCAR powered 370z. Daigo Saito continued to show his abilities as he took the win over Michael Bonney. Josh Boettcher battled hard in his V8 S15, yet Van Gisbergen continued his onslaught – further pushing MCA closer and closer to having two cars on their respective podiums. Following this was a new vs old showdown! The JZ powered FT86 of Beau Yates battled against the SR powered AE86 of Luke Fink. Yates ended up taking the win, landing him in the top four after Fink was penalised for being a little too far inside through the first turn after initiation in the chase position, as discussed by Tsuchiya-san in the driver briefing.
Unfortunately – the perils of motorsport struck during the top four. After an impressive first run between Yates and Van Gisbergen. The Nissan V8 tucked in the engine bay of the MCA 370z gave up on the second run. Unfortunately all the talent in the world cannot steer a blown motor around the track, and Beau Yates continued through to the final. On the other end of the competition tree, Rob Whyte faced intake issues as his NASCAR motor ended his evening prematurely. Resulting in Daigo Saito advancing through to the final round.
With a track still damp, it was time for the final. One of Australia’s most successful drifters, Beau Yates up against one of the world’s most famous, all the way from Japan, Daigo Saito. Clean battles commenced and both Saito and Yates earned an advantage in each of the runs! The microphone of the PA system was handed over to Keiichi Tsuchiya to announce who was voted triumphant. “ONE MORE TIME” Tsuchiya burst out with excitement! The crowd was stoked that they’d get to watch two of the best drivers battle it out again.
Saito lead the first rerun. Even in the wet, Saito’s speed was incredible. The 1200 HP 3.4L 2JZ managed to push away from Yates’ 86. Tsuchiya explained that neither cars made huge mistakes but it was overall an ugly run as they battled the wet conditions. Resulting in an advantage to Saito 5.5/4.5.
Saito then chased Yates for the fourth run of the final. From the first initiation, Saito was up the inside of Yates, really putting the pressure on. However, Saito jumped his trailing wheel over an inside curb. Yates went wide through the third clipping point (inner zone), allowing Saito to get up close and personal with Yates. Yates took the win with a 6.5/3.5 advantage. Whilst a lot of spectators thought Saito had the win, he was penalised for interference leading up to the first initiation as well as two corrections.
The final results were:
- Beau Yates
- Daigo Saito
- Shane Van Gisbergen
- Rob Whyte
- Mike Whiddett
- Josh Boettcher
- Michael Bonney
- Luke Fink
- Michael Prosenik
- Cole Armstrong
- Jake Jones
- Cameron Mote
- Alex Sciacca
- Darren Kelly
- Levi Clarke
- Matt Russell
- Brad Tuohy
- Adam Monck
- Dave Steedman
- Michael Rosenblatt
- Matt Hill
- Anthony Bilic
- Kris Frome
- Karl Thompson
- Mitchell Jeffries
- Adam davies
- Blake Paterson
- Andy Worth
- Ben Meir
- Joel Dimmack
A massive thank you to Tony Donoghue Photography for providing all the photos used in this write up!
If you’ve never attended World Time Attack Challenge before, it is the one event that I have engraved into my calendar every year. Three years in a row I’ve attended and it just gets better and better every year and now with a well organised drifting competition attached it’s all the better!
How did you find the weekend’s competition? Did you watch from home on the live stream or were you alongside Sydney Motorsport Park! Let us know in the comments!
If you missed the action, the live stream is still available on MotorsportTV
Drift Life/Kaonashi Street