Extreme sideways action at SupaDrift Series

Words & Photos: Sheldon Reddy

Performance Driving

South Africa’s premier drifting championship, the Auto Trader SupaDrift Series, recently touched down in Port Shepstone for a crack at the hillside Dezzi Raceway, attracting the largest crowd the raceway has seen. More than 5,000 eager petrol heads converged at Dezzi Raceway to witness the best drivers in South Africa dial in some serious angle at extreme speeds.



The raceway, affectionately nicknamed the 'Rollercoaster', is fast becoming a favourite stop for the National Series. Dezzi is famous for its elevated, ripping, blind turns and downward dipping corners, a challenge for some of the best high-speed, precision drifters South Africa has to offer. The track’s versatile design allowed organisers to orchestrate a twist in format that forced drivers to a slow entry speed of just 85 kph, before manoeuvring around a five-switch course.


The presence of the SupaDrift Series in KwaZulu-Natal has done wonders to develop and promote motor sport in the province. KZN has gained a lot of momentum in the racing world over the recent years and is fast becoming a top contender for the title of 'the home of motorsport'. KZN may lack the infrastructure that Gauteng has, but when it comes down to passion and pure skill, KZN comes out ahead. The province is abuzz with motor sport activity throughout the year, from inland spinning and gymkhana events, held by the Sidewayz Club, to coastal drag racing events, the Total Rally and Top Gear festivals. There's no doubt that KZN is finally taking motor sport seriously!


The series held its sixth installment at Oslo Beach on Saturday, 17 August 2013. The event expected to showcase the skills of 47 drivers, however the fast-paced, vicious nature of the course and high-speed entry resulted in many failing to qualify. The event saw only 27 drivers going head-to-head for points towards the championship title.


Shortly after the morning sun rose gracefully above the horizon and showered the hillside track with beautiful golden rays of sunshine, the practice session got underway. The practice session saw drivers hit some serious angles at very high speeds, expelling plumes of smoke from the rear wheels, which immediately gave spectators a taste of the high-octane, adrenalin-pumping, and action-filled day ahead.


A few of the drivers and their teams fought hard to get their cars ready for the event. KZN Morné Venter suffered a blow to his turbo and after sourcing bearings and other parts to repair the damaged turbo, he made it into the qualifying round by the skin of his teeth. This setback didn’t seem to faze 'The Hooligan', as he tore up the tarmac in a rage indicative of his Skyline’s raw power and aggression. A similar fate was experienced by that of SnS Army’s Sean February and Gianni Crowster.


The qualifying round was an intense as ever and drivers drove hard to clinch the pole position. Michael Radloff, in his TFM-powered Nissan 200sx, fought hard to tie against Jason Webb, in his monster-clad Nissan 200sx, who had entered the event on the flipside of three consecutive wins. Ultimately, in these qualifying rounds, the current championship leader, Webb, took top points, while Clare Vale secured her maiden SupaDrift Series qualifying entry for the season.


Gianni Crowster took top spot in the Silver Cup, followed by Tony Jardine and Joey Govender. The Silver Cup gives those drivers who fail to make the qualifying round, another crack at the circuit.


The top 16 round saw drivers battle it out in tandem drifts, which kept the crowd screaming for more. This round also saw quite a few OMT (One-More-Time), which resulted in a re-run between the respective drivers. Some of the most intense battles were those of Jim McFarlane against Jean Mare, Paulo Gaouveia against Dezzi Racing’s Shane Gutzeit, as well as SnS Army’s Wade van Zummeren against Falken Tyres’ Rudi van den Berg, and not forgetting the extreme dual between Sean February and Morné Venter, which saw Venter progress to the next round.


After an extreme top 16 round, the top eight drivers advanced to the next round. This round started off with a bang, with Jason Webb against Max My Ride’s Tim Stephens, and Wade van Zummeren against Jim McFarlane. Jason Webb showed why he is number one in the series by taking the win in his battle. Wade and Jim had an OMT called and after a door-to-door run, Wade van Zummeren clinched the win.


These runs were followed by the next grouping of Morné Venter against Mike Radloff, and Rockford Fosgate’s Mikey Skelton against Shane Gutzeit. These duals both saw OMTs called and they were forced to battle it out again. After an intense battle between the duos, both Radloff and Gutzeit took the wins to enter the semi-finals.



The first semi-final played host to Jason Webb against Wade Zummeren, with Webb ultimately taking the win after one of the closest battles of the day! The second semi final witnessed Mike Radloff and Shane Gutzeit go head-to-head for a spot in the final. There were some aggressive angles and lines dialed in from both drivers, but ultimately the win went to Shane Gutzeit!


As the winter’s sun kissed the day goodbye and began dipping over the Marburg hills, the finals kicked in. The atmosphere was electric, as the fans anticipated the most extreme battle of the day. An announcement was made early in the final leg that Wade van Zummeren had unfortunately retired with turbo issues, handing third place to Radloff, who had performed a solid solo run to officially claim the third spot. The finals saw Jason Webb taking on Shane Gutzeit, however Shane spun out midway through the first run, handing over victory to a calm, yet aggressive Jason Webb, who clinched the number one spot for the fourth consecutive time in this year’s championship!


"With just two events left in the series, it looks like Jason Webb is a strong contender as SA’s first National Drift Champion, with more than a 100 point's lead. We’re incredibly proud to be the title sponsor of this inaugural National Championship, which is becoming increasingly popular with each event," said series sponsor George Mienie, Auto Trader’s managing director.


Points going in to the second-to-last round of the series are as follows:
1) Jason Webb – 555;
2) Mike Radloff – 427;
3) Shane Gutzeit - 412;
4) Wade van Zummeren – 409.


The second-to-last round of the Auto Trader SupaDrift Series is set to take place on 28 September, in Mafikeng at the Mmabatho Stadium parking lot. So diarise this date now and enjoy all the fun and action that is the SupaDrift Series.


SupaDrift fast facts

• The SupaDrift Series was founded in 2009 by XS Promotions, organisers and commercial rights holders of the national championship franchise.


• The Auto Trader SupaDrift Series is the only Motorsport South African endorsed national championship in the country. This is the first year that a national champion will be crowned.


• Drifting involves the intentional over-steering of cars, which causes a loss of traction in the rear wheels. Drivers must maintain control from entry to exit of a corner, with the intention of gaining style points from judges and spectators. Points are determined by style, drift angle, tyre smoke, and noise maintained around a fixed course.


• Autotrader.co.za is the presenting sponsor of the 2013 SupaDrift Series, and has been for the past four years. Other sponsors include Chevrolet, Achilles Tyres, Turn 1 Wheels, Speed and Sound Magazine, Liqui Moly, Red Bull Energy Drink, and We All Ride Clothing.


For results and more information on the SupaDrift Series, visit www.supadrift.co.za