Wind power: Probably not the first thing you’d think of when you picture the North East of England. Yet at the final round of this years BDC, the steel, power generating behemoths dominated the skyline. Situated in the Washington Nissan plant, the colossal car park was transformed into an epic smoky battleground, occupied by 80 or so men and their weapons of choice.
Not uncommon for the north east, was the changeable weather. Small bursts of rain, wind and glorious sunshine made shooting the weekend pretty interesting. I’m sure this didn’t exactly instil confidence in many of the drivers either, with a constantly evolving concrete track to compete with.
Saturday saw opportunity for substantial practice, as well as the qualifying. With all 3 championships being so close, even the single point for qualifying could have decided everything, which meant most people were on it from the word go.
One of the front runners in the Super Pro category was Mark Luney in the SATS Cosworth Supra. This smoke machine is a clear crowd favourite and probably one of the prettiest competition cars within the UK. I believe it was running slightly detuned at this event. Down from the usual insane 800bhp to still something not-at-all sensible.
Going into this round in the lead however, was Team Falken’s Matt Carter and his trusty S14.5.
Qualifying in Super Pros was dominated by Japspeed drivers. With Shane putting in one of his best runs of the year (including a fairly impressive entry into the first corner) and the ever impressive Paul Smith, the duo took first and second respectively.
So the top 3 qualifiers in Super Pros was as follows:
1st – Shane Lynch
2nd – Paul Smith
3rd – Matt Carter
Number one qualifying spot in the pro class went to Ian Bizz Phillips after an impressive couple of laps. A slight nudge to a front clipping point keeping him from topping the overall board. Still enough to net him a mid place position in the Super Pro class however.
Second place in the Pro qualifying was shared between the above 2 drivers, Martin Richards and Mike Marshall. Both putting in very, very good runs. All of the top 3 drivers in the Pro class had the opportunity to win the championship, and with all of them looking very on form, the stage was set for an interesting day of battles.
So the top 3 qualifiers in Pros was as follows:
1st – Ian Phillips
2nd – Martin Richards
3rd – Mike Marshall
Disappointingly, Paul Cheshire only manages to qualify 18th and as a result is out of the competition. It’s always a real shame to see such a photogenic car with masses of potential leave the game so early.
Semi Pro pole position was taken by Marc Huxley in the awesome SR20 powered KE71 Toyota Corolla.
Second place went to Mark Lappage in the interestingly coloured Nissan S13. Again, this was another class that had no decided winner. A large amount of drivers had the opportunity to take the 2011 BDC Semi Pro championship for themselves.
The final step on the qualifying podium was taken by Andy Stroud, in a borrowed R32. Looking to be running extremely rich, this skyline was pouring out some of the biggest flames I’ve ever seen within the BDC.
So the top 3 qualifiers in Semi Pros was as follows:
1st – Marc Huxley
2nd – Mark Lappage
3rd – Andy Stroud
Unfortunately missing out on the Semi Pro competition was Rob Finn. A great lad with a lot of heart whose Sr20 died during practice. Hopefully he’ll get this fixed for next season and come back swinging. More driving like Donnington please Rob.
A special mention has to go out to this man. Liam Doran, a person you’d normally associate with rallycross. The guy is an absolute nutcase. In a good way. Some superb driving in the ex-japspeed S14. This is the first time I’ve seen Liam drive drift, and to say I was impressed would be an understatement.
Saturdays practice also gave me a chance to shoot some detail shots that are maybe often overlooked. The way tyre smoke interacts with various wheels and setups is bizarrely interesting. The abstract swirls and shapes go unappreciated by the human eye, but look much different though a camera lens. Smoke is art.
Unfortunately for me, Sam Holt was no longer using his red smoke tyres as he was in the previous round. All that remained were the odd particles of red rubber adorning the rear wheels of his S14, evidence of fun times past, and a lazy lad who doesn’t clean his wheels. Much more from this guy later by the way.
Sunday morning; sunshine fought its way through a thick layer of cloudcover and the excitement in the air grew by the hour. A substantial crowd formed on the grass bank, flanking the track, wondering who would be crowned 2011 BDC champion.
Opening the proceedings for the day, is the Semi Pro class. An unfortunate camera issue means I’m left to cover this with very few images.
The highlight of the top 16 for me was Matt Campling and Liam Doran. Superb driving from both drivers leads to a one more time. After 4 laps of intense, super close drifting, Matt takes the win and advances to the top 8.
Belinda Challis takes on Andy Arnott in the top 8. Great battles call for two one more times!
Belinda eventually takes the win and advances to the semi finals. Great driving from Andy though!
Sam Holt takes a premature exit to Marc Huxley in the top 8. Super driving by Hux. I’m sure this will not matter too much to Sam in hindsight.
In the semi finals, Hux looses out to Matt Campling. After a poor first run from both drivers, they run one more time and Matt takes the win.
The final remaining 4 drivers in this class are: Marc Huxley, Matt Campling, Belinda Challis and Stuart Egdell.
Marc takes on Stuart Egdell for third place and Belinda takes on Matt for the top spot on the podium.
Matt takes the win!
Top 3 finishers in Semi Pro class:
1st: Matt Campling
2nd: Belinda Challis
3rd: Marc Huxley
We continue the day with the top 16 from Pros. First to take to the stage in this class was Justin Clarke and Adam Day. Justin takes the first win in the pro class in the pink accented S14.
Grant Laker is the next driver to join Justin in the Top 8. Taking a well deserved victory over a Dutch BDC virgin in the E36 BMW.
Jordan Patton takes on Justin Griffiths and progresses to the next round.
Sam Holt advances to the top 8 and shatters the hopes of championship contender Martin Richards. Remember Sam is a Semi Pro who earned the right to compete in the Pros because of his qualifying result, and not a regular. This would not be the high point of Sam’s weekend however.
Jarek Federico vs Chris Hawkins was next with Jarek ending his weekend in a smoky spin. Chris advances to the top 8.
Probably my favourite top 16 Pro battle now, with Mike Marshall taking on Pete Green in the V8 E30 BMW.
A fantastic battle that sees Mike Marshall advance to the top 8. His championship hopes remain intact for now.
Ian Phillips takes on Adamn Blackwell now. 2 R33s with vastly different displacements and inductions. Ian takes the win and also annihilation his front bumper; aesthetically pleasing pictures from the front are done for the day.
Danni Murphy now, taking on the 14a of Nathan Chivers. Danni leaves the competition with a terminally ill sounding SR20DET. Nathan advances to the top 8.
Top 8 now and Justin Clarke takes on Grant Laker. Grant takes the win and advances to the semi finals.
Sam Holt continues on his voyage of discovery through the Pro class and takes another impressive win! Taking out Jordan Patton who makes a minor mistake and exits the competition.
Mike Marshall takes on his Team mate Chris Hawkins. Chris takes the win and looks like ruining Mike’s top spot in the championship. A fairly shocking result after Mike’s confident driving all season. Awesome work by Chris.
Ian Phillips battles Nathan Chivers for his place in the semi finals, Bizz going very hard and the majority of people struggling to keep with his angle.
Semi finals now: Bizz takes on Chris Hawkins and Sam Holt takes on Grant Laker.
Hawkins and Laker are to battle for third.
Bizz vs Sam in the Final! Not many people would have anticipated this.
Grant Laker takes the win over Chris and walks away with the first podium spot secured. The final battle will decide how far up the championship board Grant will finish the season.
Surprise battle of the day, and what a battle it was. Semi Pro Sam Holt takes on Ian Phillips, Pro and Super Pro Qualifier. Absolutely fantastic driving from both drivers makes for an exciting finale to the class. I could have watched this battle all day, 2 top blokes at the top of their game, giving it their all. Superb.
Unfortunately for Sam, who looked like he could cause an ever bigger upset than he did…
…Ian takes it by a narrow margin!
Top 3 finishers in Pro class:
1st: Ian Bizz Phillips
2nd: Sam Holt
3rd: Grant Laker
Super Pros now and I guess the ‘main event’. This is what the people come to see. The best cars and the best drivers, hand in hand.
Si Perry and Gav Cummings start us off in this class. Simon in his insane pink R33 and Gav in the Sileighty.
Si takes the win after a mistake from Gav. Si advances to the top8.
Wayne Keeber now takes on Mark Luney in the formidable SATS Cosworth Supra. Mark takes the win and joins Simon in the top 8.
Alan Green steps up to take on Ashley Stevens in the purple S13. Alan is having issues with the car and is forced to call a 5 minute rule. Ashley goes on to take the win.
Paul Smith takes on Dan O’Brien in this top 16 battle. A rare error from Paul ending in a spin hands Dan the Victory. A real shame for a driver who has been outstanding all season and a personal favourite of mine.
Dan advances to the top 8 in the Competition Clutch S14A.
Steven Biagioni advances to the top 8 after beating out Scotland’s David Waterworth in an extremely close fought battle.
Julie Robinson in her golden brown R32 skyline takes on Ian Phillips in his not very skyline-skyline. An unfortunate error that sees Julie career into the course barriers sees Ian through to the next round and his first super pro top 8!
The Chevrolet engined R33 makes it’s way to the top 8 in Super Pros after winning Pro class earlier in the day.
Mark Luney faces Simon Perry in the top 8 in one of the smokiest battles of the day.
Mark takes the win after an impressive battle that saw both drivers on the edge.
Ashley Stevens is removed from the competition by an in form Dan O’Brien. Dan makes his way to the semi finals.
Baggsy knocks out a clutchless Matt Carter and takes his place in the semi finals.
Battle of the V8s now as Bizz takes on Shane Lynch. What would win out? Japanese Twin turbos or a lairy American cam?
A super close battle that is really only ended when Bizz slams the door in Shane’s face as he looks to sneak down the outside. Causing Shane to change his line substantially, Bizz takes the win.
Bizz leaves ecstatic. Shane leaves curtain left… Smoke curtain that is…
Mark Luney vs Dan O’Brien in the first semi final. Mark takes the win and advances to the final, whereas Dan will take on the loser of the next battle for third place.
Baggsy knocks out Bizz and eliminates the chance of a dual class winning day. A very good battle that was ultimately decided by a small mistake from Bizz. Bizz will face Dan, and Baggsy will challenge Luney for first place.
An inspired run from Bizz gives him a comfortable third place. Dan unfortunately just misses out on the podium spot. This gives Bizz his second podium and trophy of the day.
The final battle of the year now as the sun begins to dip towards the wind mill ridden skyline. Mark Luney takes on Steven Biagioni. Japspeed vs SATS. Mark pulls away, the endless power of the Supra seemingly too much to handle. This advantage gives him a clear advantage in my eyes…
…and indeed the judges! Mark takes the top step on the podium and Baggsy takes a very respectable second!
Top 3 finishers in Super Pro class:
1st: Mark Luney
2nd: Steven Biagioni
3rd: Ian Phillips
So the SATS Cosworth Supra takes first place in Super Pros. The day is just about over, and what a fantastic day it has been! Only one thing left to do now.
Joining us in the centre of the track to distribute trophies, along with the crowd and drivers, are the lovely Maxxis girls.
The BDC trophies are provided by Costworth, and are manufactured from parts of a Formula 1 car. A nice touch in my opinion that adds some real character. As always they are accompanied by champagne for the traditional drenching ceremony.
Team Japspeed walk away with the team championship after narrowly beating out the Team Falken boys. I believe in the end, the difference was a single point! Well done to Paul, Baggsy and Shane as well as the rest of the team over there.
After all the prizes are given, it’s time for the ceremonial champagne battle. All the corks are popped and this is generally where photographers move back. I was feeling a bit excited so stuck around and got drenched. Worth it…
Poor Mark Luney seemed to receive more of a soaking than most, with Steven Biaggioni doing his part to make sure.
I’ll end on a double winner and a good friend of mine. Ian Phillips. Winner in Pro and third in Super Pro, Bizz will be competing exclusively in Super Pros next season. A top lad and a top day!
Below are the final season standings, and below that is a pretty comprehensive gallery showing ~150 photos. So please check them both out.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my coverage throughout the season, and I look forward to seeing you all next year for an even bigger and better series! I’d also once again like to extend my warmest thanks to all the BDC crew, drivers, mechanics, media etc. You guys have made this year amazing. Truly amazing.