After four action packed rounds of Gymkhana Grid held across Europe, it was time for the series finale at Santa Pod Raceway. With the previous rounds having been held in France, Germany, Holland and Silverstone in the UK, the finale at Santa Pod Raceway was to give the previous winners a chance to go up against the undisputed masters of Gymkhana: Ken Block in his legendary Ford Fiesta (competing in the AWD class) and Vaughn Gittin Jr in his monstrous Ford Mustang (competing in the RWD class). With such an array of talented drivers taking part, Team Japspeed couldn’t resist the opportunity to get involved!
Team Japspeed driver Paul “Smokey” Smith was keen to show off his skills since being crowned British Drift Champion just a few weeks ago, and his car of choice was Japspeed’s latest creation: a 2JZ-GTE powered Lexus IS200.
While Paul wasn’t taking part in the competition itself he was still able to put on incredible demonstration runs along with fellow Monster sponsored drifter Buttsy Butler, both wowing the crowds with their brilliant car control skills.
With no time for a proper shakedown beforehand, Gymkhana Grid was Smokey’s first time behind the wheel of the Japspeed Lexus and as such we were constantly learning about the car and how subtle suspension adjustments affected its handling and overall balance. Friday was spent getting the basic setup dialled in, with smaller changes being made throughout the course of the weekend.
The car was reported to have huge amounts of grip, so much so that it was maybe a little too much for the tight and technical Gymkhana course. On the other hand though, huge amounts of traction will make the car a force to be reckoned with at next year’s Maxxis Tyres British Drift Championship!
The Saturday was filled with demonstration runs from all of the drivers, with Paul getting the chance to rub shoulders on the course with Ken Block, Vaughn Gittin Jr, Buttsy Butler, and Liam Doran amongst others, all while wowing the huge crowds.
Sunday was competition day and it was time for all of the drivers to step things up an extra notch. With punished clutches and tortured tyres being pushed to their limits there was no shortage of action on the course, with Smokey doing demonstration runs in between the rounds of competition to keep the crowds entertained. There was also an autograph signing session, allowing the fans to meet and greet their favourite drivers.
Back on track and in the end it was Japspeed supported driver Luke Woodham in his Nissan S14a that found himself in the final alongside professional drifter Remmo Niezen who was over from the Netherlands and competing in his V8 powered E30 BMW. Luke put in an admirable performance but in the end lost out to Remmo, although to make it all the way to the final with such a talented field of drivers taking part was no mean feat!
Team Japspeed would like to take this opportunity to thank Monster for giving us the opportunity to attend such an amazing event and also for the incredible support that they give our team! It was great fun to try our hands at a sport that we haven’t taken part in before and it was also fantastic to see all of our fans who were there to support us!