We all know it, and most of us do not love it. However, it is all too familiar to those of us who attend the BDC. There was not a dry day during the 2019 championship.
However, the law of averages dictated that eventually we would be able to have a dry event. After two on the trot for 2020, with Round One at Driftland and Round Two at Three Sisters bathed in sun for the whole weekend, the rain was back at Teesside to make up for missing out this year.
So, after a dry practice day on Friday, the rain fell heavily overnight and continued through the morning until the track was thoroughly saturated by live track time on Saturday.
Rain has a conflicting effect on drifters, particularly those competing for top honours in the Pro 2 championship, where power varies from as low as 200 horsepower to as high as 800. Those with the tyre-frying monsters were hurrying to reduce tyre pressures and gain as much grip as possible, whereas the low-power heroes were gleefully rubbing their hands together at their turn of fortune.
And so it turned out that way for the Pro 2 drivers as they took to the line to qualify amidst the sodden conditions. The rain caught out it’s fair share of drivers, with sudden grip loss and even water intake being a concern to the drivers. The top qualifying spot was clinched by Jay Wilding in his awesome S14A.
From then on, it became a story of Davids felling Goliaths. Many of the high-power qualifiers were bested by drivers in much lower-HP builds, proving that precipitation is the ultimate equaliser in drifting.
Shock after shock occurred as the day wore on. From first place qualifier Jay Wilding being knocked out by 32nd qualifier Will Gibbs, to the monster BMW of Driftland bossman Stu McLellan being eliminated by Dave Goldstraw in his humble IS200.
But the biggest shock, which was met with a mixture of amazement and disbelief by the crowd was The Boy Wonder Max Cotton, who had managed to qualify 11th after returning a zero on his first run, being eliminated by his closest championship rival, Irishman Dylan Kehoe, in the Funk Motorsport Great 8. Up until that point Max had stood undefeated in Pro 2 and had two victories to his name in as many events. Max would have to watch from the sidelines and pray Dylan wouldn’t close the gap too much.
Another Irishman, Sean Devine, was also mounting his charge up the order. Piloting his simple-as-you-like E46 M3, Sean toppled Kristian Rice, Yohann Quaziz, Jamie Stanton and Stu Adsley to earn his place in the final. The final would take place against one of the most beloved drivers in the championship.
Yorkshireman Charlie Hulme is possibly one of the most experienced drivers when it comes to the Teesside track. His wealth of seat time in his trusty S13 and his wet-weather ability paid dividend as he racked up an impressive number of victories on his way to square off against Devine in the final, besting drivers such as George Barclay, Robbie Burgoyne, Josh Payne and Dylan Kehoe.
With the final now decided, Scotsman Stu Adsley and Dylan Kehoe would square off once again to decide the final podium step. In a reversal of fortunes from Round One, Dylan took the third place step ensuring he was still well in the fight for the championship.
Sean Devine and Charlie Hulme then pulled to the line in torrential conditions to decide our Pro 2 winner at Round Three. Two of the most simple builds in Pro 2 had taken on all comers and emerged at the other side to fight for the top step.
Despite an amazing drive from Charlie, Sean Devine was able to squeak out the win and claimed his first victory in the BDC! Not bad considering it was only his second BDC event!
The Lucas Oil Pro 2 Hard Charger honours were awarded to Yohann Quaziz, who, despite having some teething problems with his brand new chassis at the start of this year, put on a sterling drive well deserved of the fourth piece of silverware.
So, we move on to the main event. A dry day, even with some sun, greeted our Pro drivers as they strapped in for their time in the spotlight. The surprise last-minute addition of former BDC champ Richard Grindrod (piloting Jamie Stanton’s car, one which, funnily enough, was previously his) and Peden Nielsen, one of Irish drifting’s great characters, meant that the Pro grid was full of big names looking to emerge with the win.
Clearly inspired by his countryman Sean Devine, Duane McKeever and his 180SX headed out to promptly top qualifying, removing the honours from the hands of local lad Ian Rutherford. Reminding people just why he’s here for the 2020 season, Duane scythed his way through the field, battling (and beating) a host of fellow S13 pilots, including Ricky Lawrence in his awesome Onevia, Olly Silcock in the thugged-out PS13 and Stefan Stefanov in the brutal 2JZ 200SX. He then would face an S14 in the final, although not the one he usually finds himself pitted against.
Monster Energy driver Luke Woodham could only manage 19th in qualifying, but after a lot of heartache in a year that has so far been dogged by mechanical failure, Luke was out to prove a point. Luke took out Stu Jones, Richard Grindrod, Luke Barker and Nerijus Voliukevicius to square off against McKeever.
Third place finisher Nerijus Voliukevicius in his freshly rebuilt R33 Skyline would hold the distinction of being the only man other than Duane McKeever to get around defending champ Ollie Evans so far this year, knocking him out in Top 16. Progressing through to the Funk Motorsport Great Eight, Nerijus took out second-place qualifier Ian Rutherford before he was knocked out himself by Luke Woodham in the Final Four on his way to face off against McKeever. With Stefanov’s car being rendered inoperative by mechanical failure, Nerijus was given third place by default, possibly fortunately for him as his R33 Skyline had also hit problems.
So, the final. The mighty McKeever decided that he wasn’t going to let up this round, and promptly limiter-bashed his way to his third successive victory in as many events. Luke fought him off gallantly but he would have to settle for second.
The Lucas Oil Pro Hard Charger honours were collected by Ian Rutherford whose supercharged V8 S13 did him proud with the second highest qualifying score and a Top Eight finish!
Congratulations to Martin Wonnacott and the rest of the team from Betty’s Surf Shop for hoisting the constructors trophy!
So, that’s two first place trophies on the ferry back to Northern Island and McKeever with a strong lead on the Pro Championship heading into Round Four at Buxton Raceway. Just eleven points separate Max Cotton and Dylan Kehoe for the Pro 2 title, so you don’t want to miss a second. We’ll see you there!