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SATS Cosworth Round 2 Report

May 31st, 2011

SATS Cosworth at Round 2 of the British Drift Championship from Ciaran Smith on Vimeo.

Team SATS Cosworth headed off to the Norfolk Arena, in Kings Lynn, for the second round of the Maxxis Tyres British Drift Championship which was held last Saturday, 21st May.

The team were looking to repeat their success at round one, which seen them take 1st place. However, just after this, the team had a problem when they realised that the track at Norfolk wasn’t quite suited to the Supra’s setup. After several meetings and phone calls, the team decided that it would be best to arrive at the track with the same setup, and make a decision on how to adjust the car then.

On the day before competition, the car rolled up to the start line, and the team looked nervously on as driver Mark ‘Sidewaysbuff’ Luney proceeded to try and drift the car around the track, accompanied by Cosworth Liaison Brad O’Nians in the passenger seat. At the end of his first run, Mark knew straight away that the diff would need to be changed to a shorter one, which thankfully the team had on board the truck. So it was overalls on, and everyone got down to the task at hand, which was completed quite quickly. This gave the team the chance to get the car back out on track before the end of the open practise session.

As everyone crossed their fingers, Mark put the power down, and the Supra drifted gracefully around the track. With smiles on their faces, the team knew that they were back in the competition.

The following morning, the practise session was about to begin, and the team were confident that Mark could get a good score. In his first run, he perfectly drifted around the track, with plumes of smoke emanating from the Maxxis MA-Z1 drift tyres. However, on the last corner, Mark spun. Everyone, from the team to the spectators, was left scratching their heads at such an uncharacteristic display.

Luney had two more chances, and on his second run he left a trail of smoke the entire way around the track, and received a massive round of applause from the crowd. With one run to go, Luney gave it his all, and coming out of the long sweeping corner he once again spun. At that point, the team knew that something had to be wrong.

When the car rolled back into the paddock, it became clear that the front tyres were rubbing against the wheel arches, which was causing the spins. However, whilst Mark was away receiving the good news that he was once again the top qualifier of the day, there was bad news waiting for him back at the Supra. It had become evident that there was an issue with the engine.

Brad O’Nians explained what the problem was.

“After Mark came in from qualifying, we noticed that the engine was breathing a little heavy than normal. We run a compression test and found that we had a little less compression on number one cylinder than what we should have.”

He added,

“Unfortunately, it’s one of those things. It was going beautifully, we qualified first, but that’s motorsport.”

So the team got their thinking caps on to try and come up with a temporary fix, and that came in the form of an overflow tank and a bung!

It was a big risk to take, but it was a risk worth taking as the team knew that Mark could get a spot on the podium.

In the competition, Luney’s first opponent was Shane Lynch in the Japspeed V8 powered car. In his first run, Luney who was chasing, as usual, put the pressure on and forced Shane to make a small mistake. In his leading run, Mark put the foot down, and as well as pulling a gap from Lynch, he also drifted elegantly around the track, which was a pleasure to watch. He was through to the next round.

Mark then came up against an opponent who he hasn’t driven against in five years, and that was Steve ‘Stiggy’ Evans in his AutoGlym sponsored Cosworth powered Toyota Starlet. In Mark’s first run, he led, which allowed him to pull a huge gap between himself and his opponent due to the huge power difference between the two. But this is an issue when Mark chases, as he has to back off so as not to drive into the back of the leading car. With this in mind, he drove superbly, mirroring Stiggy’s every move. Once again, Mark was the better driver, and he was through to the semi-final.

His next run was to be a repeat of the final from the first round, where he faced Matt Carter. In their first run, both drivers put on an amazing display of world class drifting, with plenty of smoke and angle. In the second run, Mark was chasing, and coming out of the long sweeping corner, Mark overdid it slightly, and the rear wheels of the car went slightly off the track. A small mistake, yes, but when two drivers are so good, it’s enough to go against you. Therefore Mark was out of the running for first place, but he still had a chance at third.

His final opponent was Simon Perry in his Nissan Skyline. There was some friendly banter between the two the previous night, where both drivers stated that they would win a battle between them. Now was the chance for them to prove themselves, and in his first run, Mark pulled a big gap between the two, but Perry was still behind, drifting his car superbly. In the second run, Mark knew that it was all or nothing, and piled the pressure on from behind, which was enough to secure him the last place on the podium.

Speaking afterwards, Luney explained how third place was a great result for the team,

“We had a much better run than expected. The car turned out to be tremendous, we qualified first, which surprised the whole field, and it certainly surprised ourselves. We knew the car could be good, but in a small venue like this, it was incredible. All we really did was alter gear ratios.

He continued,

“We did have engine problems which developed after the qualifying runs. We don’t know what is actually wrong with the car, but we don’t think it’s too serious. We weren’t going to run the car at all, but the team decided to run it and see how long it lasts because it was worth the points, so we did, and third place is fantastic.”

So the team will be working hard between now, and the next event in July, to make sure that the car is back up and running so they can once again take a podium spot.

-Prepared by SATS Cosworth

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