2012 REPORT: Round3 Brands Hatch
It’s Round 3 of the European Drift Championship and on Sunday 8th July the hugely-popular Brands Hatch circuit plays host to some of the UK’s best drifters! After his win at Round 2 Antony Mortley is looking confident in the RK Engineering R32 Skyline, but it’s Paul Conlan who’s seriously determined to take his first win of the season after a fuel cut issue last round cost him a potential win. Martin Richards has an all-new car for Round 3 – a 450bhp single-turbo Toyota Soarer which looks absolutely stunning. In fact, this wouldn’t look out of place back in Japan with its lairy styling and huge deep-dish wheels tucked under the arches. It’s also good to see Lisa Branch back with her R34 GT-T Skyline, undoubtedly one of the wildest cars competing in the EDC with a Supra 2JZ engine under the bonnet. It’s very nearly finished and we can’t wait to see her use it in anger.
Sunday morning and (as predicted) the circuit’s been left damp thanks to the Great British weather, although after Snetterton and Knockhill it’s safe to say the EDC competitors are getting pretty used to this! Andy Cooper looks prepared for all weather conditions, sporting a huge stack of tyres next to the Really Mean Sounds S14a varying from all-weather to semi-slicks for when the track conditions improve throughout the day. There’s clear skies n the distance so we’ve all got our fingers crossed, although a bit of rain does make the EDC even more unpredictable than usual.
Brands hatch is a properly fast circuit, and despite being a tricky circuit to master it’s undoubtedly one of the drivers’ favourite venues thanks to the huge sweeping right-hand bend ‘Cleerways’. After their transition the drivers will be hitting Cleerways in either 3rd or 4th gear, balancing the throttle before opening it up fully towards the end creating a monster smokescreen. What’s more, thanks to the raised Brabham Straight all the fans can witness the whole EDC course from a single viewpoint – exactly what you want from an event.
First practice and with the EDC being the first cars out on the circuit every driver is keen to try and find out just which part of the track has the most grip and just what line is going to work. Karl Farrar is first out and immediately caught by standing water sending him into a spin. EDC veteran Declan Hicks is next who does exactly the same as Karl, so by the time Martin Richards heads up to Cleerways in the Soarer he’s taking it very tentatively to avoid spinning like the two drivers before him. Midway through practice and Paul Conlan is the first driver really beginning to push as a drying line appears – you just get the feeling he’s absolutely on it today. It’s hard to judge exactly who’s going to master Brands come qualifying time due to the conditions, but it really does make it a level playing field with the track so unpredictable.
After the lunch break the rain has luckily stopped just in time for qualifying – not ideal as the now drying track is greasy in sections and dry in others just to make it that bit more difficult. To kick off qualifying, Paul Conlan faces fellow Irishman Andy Cooper – Andy stays with Paul initially but he just doesn’t have the angle and a slight straightening gives Paul the advantage. Next run and Paul attacks Andy really hard – he’s put him under pressure and it’s paid off as another straightening from Andy sees Paul take the win.
Next up is Declan Hicks vs. Karl Farrar – Declan initiates nice and early, Karl’s caught napping and he can’t quite catch up to Declan’s Cresta going into Cleerways. With Karl leading, Dec turns in very early and somehow manages to hold the huge angle with Karl all the way! A very close run for both but Declan’s initial advantage hands him the win. Third pairing is Antony Mortley and Martin Richards, both drivers initiate well but Antony’s overcooked it and spins handing a huge advantage to Martin. In the following run, Martin keeps it clean while Ant tries to dive in to claw back some points – he can’t quite make it stick so Martin takes the win after Ant’s earlier spin.
Paul and Vince now face each other and Paul leads first with huge amounts of angle in the S15 – Vince has lost a lot of ground after initiating and when he hits the kerb he’s lost even more. Big advantage goes to Paul. Vince now leads and Paul is super aggressive – he’s right on his bumper all the way to ensure he takes yet another advantage and a crucial win to take him to the semi-finals. Straight after Declan takes on Ant, and despite Ant’s best efforts to get the Skyline inside of the big Cresta he’s had to back out and in the process lost enough ground to give Dec a slight advantage. With Ant now leading he’s got plenty of speed… too much in fact! He’s gone wide and span out onto the grass, big advantage to Dec who also takes the win.
Karl vs. Martin in the next qualifying battle, and with Karl leading he’s looking a little scruffy albeit with good angle and speed, but Martin’s able to close in a little meaning it’s 5-5 after the first battle. Martin now leads and he’s entered with loads of angle, Karl just can’t quite match him and he loses ground meaning Martin takes the win by a small margin. Martin is back out straight again to face Declan this time, and the track is now dry for most of the judged section. Declan leads initially and manages to pull a bit of a gap from Martin who, after going shallow, has lost it! He spins out handing Dec the advantage who, in his following run, keeps his nose clean with a very conservative run against Martin to ensure he wins the battle after Martin’s big spin.
The penultimate battle sees Andy Cooper face Vince Noot, and Andy’s gone very shallow to turn in but Vince has also got huge understeer - both drivers having a messy first run. Vince now leads and he initiates well unlike Andy who’s struggling with understeer, straightening which hands the advantage and win to Vince. Final qualifying battle is Karl vs. Ant – Karl starts off quite well but Ant’s finally found his feet and he’s super aggressive, closing in to Karl round Cleerways. With Ant leading he’s got bags of angle which Karl can’t match – he holds it through the whole drift to take the advantage and win over Karl.
Into the finals and would you believe it… it’s raining! At least now it’s properly raining meaning all-weather tyres can be used to give the EDC drivers any chance of grip, so just who’s got the ability to beat the rain and win at Round 3? First Semi-final battle is between Paul Conlan and Martin Richards – Paul is seriously on it today to get his first win of the season, but Martin’s showed some real skill in just his first season of EDC and this weather really does make it impossible to judge beforehand. Paul leads and initiates well, Martin tries to close in taking the inside line but he’s not got as much angle as Paul, very even in the first run. Martin now leads and he’s super-aggressive, pulling a huge amount of angle as he heads into Surtees. Paul is trying to close but it’s very even, there’s only one option – OMT. First OMT and Paul’s got plenty of angle but Martin’s keeping with him, once again it’s a very clean run from both drivers with neither taking an advantage. Second run and Martin turns in nice and early, Paul’s close to him all the way and manages to close in right to his rear bumper after a slight correction from Martin putting him into the final!
Declan Hicks faces Vince Noot in the second semi-final, Declan turns in very early and Vince is a little delayed allowing Declan to get away towards the end giving him the smallest of advantages. Second run and both initiate very well, Vince has scrubbed off more speed than Declan who’s now closing in around Cleerways, quite an even run but the advantage from the previous run puts Declan through.
3rd place battle
Martin faces Vince Noot, two very similar cars with two very similar drivers, this should be a good one! Martin leads Vince, plenty of angle from Vince but can he stay with Martin? He’s holding onto him all the way through and thanks to Vince’s additional angle he takes the small advantage. Vince now leads and Martin’s absolutely going for it, he’s attacking Vince but he’s lost some ground towards the end meaning Vince takes 3rd after his initial advantage.
1st place battle
This is it; the two most-experienced drivers in the EDC battle it out for the top spot! Paul Conlan leads and Declan is staying near him although he just loses a bit of pace and speed going up into Cleerways. Paul’s showing huge skill and determination, he really hasn’t put a foot wrong and that’s exactly why he takes the initial advantage. Second run and now Declan Hicks leads the way, Paul is all over the Cresta’s big rear bumper – if he can stay with him he will take the win. Declan’s just beginning to pull away but he’s had to straighten midway into the drift, it was looking like Declan would take the advantage meaning OMT, but after his error Paul takes the win based on the first run advantage – he’s looked strong all day and to be honest nothing was going to stop the Irishman taking his first win after the disappointment at Knockhill.
That’s it for Round 3 of the EDC – another seriously unpredictable day filled with some of the craziest weather we’ve ever seen! Next month we’re heading all the way over to Anglesey for a weekend of drifting at one of the UK’s up and coming circuits for Round 4 and 5 – make sure you join us.