Words & Photos: Sheldon Reddy
The 2013 season of the National Drifting Championship, the SupaDrift Series, came to a dramatic and action-packed end when the eighth installment of the series converged at the Durban Exhibition Centre, coinciding with the Durban Motor Show.
Photo credit: Sheldon Reddy
The 2013 SupaDrift season finale took place from 8 to 10 November. The ultimate event of the 2013 Championship saw the entire Friday dedicated to practicing, while the Saturday was dedicated to the qualifying round, which saw 30-odd drivers go head-to-head for a place in the top 16. Sunday, the final day, played host to the elimination stages within the top 16 and top 8 categories.
It has been both a competitive and challenging season for many, if not all the drivers, who participated in the events around South Africa. The drivers faced numerous challenges from extreme wet conditions to engine failures. Throughout the series, every driver experienced their fair share of misfortune and bad luck, however, every single time they got the opportunity to line up their vehicles under the red, blue, and yellow of the Red Bull start, they all felt immense pride and joy in knowing they had persevered and overcome all the challenges. Now it was time to tear up the tarmac in epic solos and intense tandems and showcase some of the best synchronized driving the country has seen.
Coming in to the finale, the championship title had already been decided. This was a result of five consecutive wins and impeccable precision driving by 19-year-old Jason Webb, in his Monster-Powered Nissan S13. Although the winner may have been decided long before the finale, there was still second and third up for grabs, and with only a few points difference between East London drifters Michael Radloff and Wade van Zummeren, spectators were in for some rip-roaring action. Vying for fourth and fifth places were three extremely competitive drifters, Dezzi Raceway’s Shane Gutzeit, Alcohol Killer’s Jim McFarlane, and Prepsol’s Paolo Gouviea. They knew it would take everything they had to fight off each other to ensure a good finish.
While the battle for positions in the top six heated up, South Africa’s first lady in drifting and motorsport, Clare Vale, was optimistic and excited to give the boys a run for their money. Clare performed extremely well in the sixth installment of the series when she secured a top-16 finish in Port Shepstone, in June. Clare wanted to prove that sticking with the tough and challenging build of her Ram Mustang was worth all the effort she and her team had put into ensuring a rock-solid performance in the series. Also in the mix for a top-10 finish was Team Red's Sean February, who had made the long trip from Cape Town to represent the Mother City. The line-up was laden with drivers from all over South Africa, with local boys David Nell, Morné Venter, Shane Ferreira, Chris Landsberg, Tony Jardine, and Royce Munnery amped to perform in front of a home crowd and showcase their skills, while helping to develop motorsport in KwaZulu-Natal, which has become a hub for drifting and spinning action in recent years.
Friday - practice day
Friday saw many of the teams that had arrived in Durban earlier in the week use the open-practice to their advantage by dialling in some much-needed track time, and putting on a show for the spectators who filled the surrounding stands to catch the high-speed drifters in action.
Saturday - qualifying session
During the qualifying session, which took place on Saturday, spectators were treated to some of the most impressive, dramatic, and action-packed high-speed drifting the series had witnessed thus far. The concrete barriers surrounding the drift arena claimed several victims throughout the finale. Mzansi Rides’ Vic Pardal was first to experience the wrath of the almighty concrete slabs when he failed to complete an initial transition and slammed his Nissan Skyline into the wall. Qualifying also included an upset for Morné Venter, in his Nissan Skyline, who fell victim to engine problems that negatively affected his performance even after a few intense emergency engine repairs in the pits in-between the qualifying runs. Turtle Wax’s Dorné Brits and Dezzi’s Des Gutzeit also suffered major upsets and failed to qualify. Team Regent’s Alex Simon and George Myburgh both lost their Nissans to the walls, dashing their hopes of a top-16 finish. By the end of the day, Wade van Zummeren was sitting in pole position, with Sean February flamboyantly finishing in second place. Championship leader Jason Webb secured sixth position after experiencing power steering failure.
Sunday - SupaDrift finale
The huge driver line-up saw the inclusion of a 16 Silver Cup, in addition to the top 16 Gold Cup, on the final day. The Silver Cup saw excitement build as several reruns were called. Chris Landsberg battled Des Gutzeit, while Nick Frey took on Morné Venter, who was forced to retire after severe engine problems. All in all, Mathys Naude finished in seventeenth position, clinching the Silver Cup from Nick Frey, who finished in eighteenth, with Tony Jardine in nineteenth position.
The top-16 eliminations soon got underway and the first to experience a rerun was duo Paolo Gouveia and Shane Gutzeit. The duo used the extra run to dial in some impressive angle during an intense synchronized driving performance. Max My Ride’s Tim Stephans and Greensky’s David Nell experienced a similar fate when they were dealt out a one-more-time. Clare Vale gave an excellent performance against Royce Munnery, however Royce’s beastly 330z proved too much for Clare in the chase and ultimately saw Royce drive away with his first-ever tandem win.
The Gold Cup played host to a clash between Mikey Skelton in his massive V8-powered Chevy Lumina and Sean February. During their first run, the drivers aggressively entered the first transition at high speeds and with minimal distance between them. This resulted in Mike veering of his path and slamming the back of his Lumina into the concrete barrier, transforming the monster V8 into something never-before-seen, a hatchback Lumina SS. Mikey was granted a small window to perform emergency repairs to the bodywork of the Chevy before they lined up one more time. Most of the crowd was on their feet in anticipation and were they in for a surprise. During the second run, the drivers entered the first transition adamant to hit strong angles, however Sean got mixed up and found the back end of his BMW slamming into the wall. After an intense moment or so, Sean was granted victory based on points coming into the qualifiers.
In the top 8 round, Michael Radloff and Wade van Zummeren went up against each other. This was one of the more unique runs because whoever won this run would not only proceed to the semi-finals but also take the overall second position in the 2013 season. The reason for this, coming into the final, was the three-point difference between Michael and Wade. Therefore, when Wade knocked Michael out in the top 8 round and progressed to the semis, he scored enough points to maintain his position on the 2013 points table and clinch second position. Unfortunately, Michael was knocked out and did not have a chance to earn extra points and challenge Wade for second place, hence Michael finishing the 2013 season in third place overall.
The top 8 round also saw David Nell and Royce Munnery fight it out, but Royce unfortunately spun out twice and David progressed through to the semi-finals. After an intense encounter between Mikey and Sean, Team Red worked hard in the pits to ready Sean’s Beemer for the pairing against Alcohol Killer’s Jim McFarlane, in his Lexus Powered 350z. After a variation in lines between the two drivers, Jim progressed to the semi-finals.
In another of the top 8 battles, Dezzi’s Shane Gutzeit took on Monster Energy’s Jason Webb. Jason got a little too close to the wall, causing his rear bumper to shimmy off. Shane also experienced a minor run in with the concrete barrier, but after a heated exchange between the two, Jason took the win even though he was forced to drive without power steering.
Photo credit: Sheldon Reddy
The first leg of the semi-finals saw David up against Wade and after some impressive driving from both of them, a one-more-time was called. It was during this rerun that the concrete barrier claimed yet another victim when David, in an attempt to recover from a wall clipping, made contact with Wade and sent him into the barrier. This resulted in the steering of his car being damaged and his car had to be towed off the track. The win was awarded to Wade, who went on to the finals, leaving David to fight for third position.
In the second leg of the semi-finals, it was Jason versus Jim. There was little contact between the two cars as the drivers fought hard for a place in the finals. In the end, Jim was awarded a place in the finals, leaving Jason to face David for third place. David and Jason maxed their limits in this round, as none of them wanted the latter position. As a result, the judges were treated to an extreme fight between the two and eventually handed third place to Jason.
After being towed off the track, Wade’s team managed to get the car ready for a heated final between Wade and Jim. The crowd anticipated a fracas beyond measure after witnessing what it had taken these two drivers to reach the final. In a high-energy, intense spectacle of precision high-speed drifting, with plumes of smoke engulfing the arena, Wade clinched first place, with Jim in second.
Wade ended on a high as he performed a burnout to show his appreciation to the crowd for their support and celebrate his well-deserved victory. Thereafter, the 19-year-old boy wonder, Jason Webb, was dubbed the 2013 SupaDrift Champion, and Sean February took the title of Rookie of the Year.
This year's SupaDrift final proved to be quite a spectacle, and it went above and beyond helping to promote Kwazulu-Natal as one of the best motorsport destinations in South Africa.
The SupaDrift Series will kick off again in the new year, with plans to visit Kwazulu-Natal at least four times during the series. In the meantime, Club Sidewayz plans to fill the void by hosting a number of events that are scheduled to take place in Pietermaritzburg during the next few months.
To keep up to date with all the action and full race results, visit www.supadrift.co.za. For more information, email: or check out SupaDrift’s Facebook page for information and coverage of KZN drifting and spinning at www.facebook.com/projectexcision