Sunset and night-time events here in Australia are rare. Not sure why, but they are. And this troubles me.
America, the home of showmanship, runs events late into the day all the time. And as a result, the cars that partake in such events look amazing; all headlights blazing and sunsets dripping in the background.
Thankfully, the organisers of the Tectaloy International Drift Challenge realised how awesome cars look at this time of day and ran their show from about 6pm onwards.
Not only that, but they were canny enough to select a new part of the circuit at Sydney Motorsports Park that was perfectly backlit by the setting sun.
Now, you could argue that such timing and course selection was a necessity, brought on by the finishing of the main World Time Attack Challenge event and the location of the secondary pit complex, the drift cars used at the back of circuit. But I like to think of it as beautiful serendipity.
Irrespective, it worked. And Mother Nature helped out by deciding to create the most gorgeous sunsets.
Of course, it wasn’t just all pretty sunsets and bright lights. There was competition to be had as well.
After qualifying, the top 32 went hard against each other, knocking out plenty of well-known names. Probably Australia’s most famous female drifter, Kelly Wong, lost to Mad Mike Whiddett…
…who in turn knocked out Aussie Ben Purtell in his lovely yellow 180SX on his way into the top four.
Another well-known driver whose run ended in the top 32 was Kiwi Shane Allen.
Now, Shane became rather more famous during the event for being involved in an accident on Thursday that sent two cars, Anthony Cece’s Cefiro, and Beau Yates’ AE86, to the pits on flatbed trucks. You can see the damage to Cece’s car below.
How much Allen was at fault is still the subject of much discussion, but you can see what happened for yourself via Yates’ in-car video here, and a spectator’s view here. It’s probably worth looking at some of the comments in the in-car video to get some additional information before making your own decision.
Others who lost out in top 32 competition included ‘Driftcat’ Catherine Coleiro, who probably would have made it much further had her car been in any condition to actually drift. Various mechanical issues meant she could barely hold a slide, let alone battle. Indeed, Daigo Saito, who drove her car over the weekend just to see what it was like, asked her how she could even drive it.
Sadly, in a cruel twist, it was Daigo himself who took Catherine out in their top 32 battle.
Of course, Saito wasn’t done there. Having disposed of Driftcat, he promptly moved past Steve Pembrey and onto Jake ‘Driftquid’ Jones. Now, Jones is a great drifter in his own right and his ‘Sonvia’ S13 is one of the best-looking drift cars out there, but not even Jake could withstand the might of one of the world’s best drifters.
Neither could New Zealand’s Gaz Whiter, a three-time D1NZ champ whose fantastic V8-powered S14 also fell to the Ninja’s sword.
Others that survived the Top 32 carnage included Scotland’s Andrew Gray, whose 700hp Chaser looked mighty fine lighting up its tyres over the two days of competition. Andrew is actually a Japanese resident at the moment, and a regular podium winner in the D1SL class there, so his move past the initial clashes came as no surprise.
Another solid mover was ‘Driftkid’ Nick Coulson in his brilliant-looking VE Commodore Ute. You might remember Nick from our coverage of Formula Drift Asia’s Melbourne round earlier this year, where he also put on a great show. Sadly, while he caused possibly the upset of the night by knocking out Japanese driver Tsutomu ‘The Terminator’ Fujio, his run ended in the top 16 when he came up against another highly-regarded Aussie drifter, Michael Prosenik.
Prosenik has been having a great season in local competition this year, and like Coulson, earned his Formula Drift Asia license in Melbourne. Let’s hope he keeps going onto bigger and better things.
A notable winner in the round of 32 was Scott Schembri of the 3 Fingers Neat crew. Why notable?
Because like the rest of his team, he had an enormous light up LED crew logo on the side of his car.
Indeed, for a country that does not really do night events, the Tectaloy International Drift Challenge stood out for just how awesome some of the lighting solutions, like the ones above, were.
A particular favourite was this awesome shark tooth design on Tasmanian Lloyd Smith’s Onevia. Despite showing some serious driving chops over the weekend, though, Lloyd’s competition ended in his top 32 clash with Jim Turner and his 180SX.
Once all the smoke cleared from the various top 32 and top 16 battles, it came down to a slightly predictable final four. Michael Prosenik went up against Gaz Whiter for third…
…while Mad Mike tussled with Daigo Saito for the top step in a battle of the giants.
In the end, a straighten from Mad Mike on his lead run gifted Saito the win, while Whiter showed the class that’s taken him to multiple home crowns in beating Prosenik.
Sadly, that left no Aussies on the podium, but then, it is called the Tectaloy International Drift Challenge. Hopefully the locals can come back next year and step it up a notch.
All that was left after that was the traditional burnout session…
…and the photographers left to shoot until it was time to go home.