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Matt “Massive in Japan” Russell

Whilst Matt Russell is over in Japan getting footage with Ginga, he decided to do a write up from his weeekend down in Tasmania for Round 1 of the Australian Drifting GP.

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, yes, I have been slack but honestly did you really miss me? Welcome to 2012, year of the Kony or something, whatever that’s supposed to mean, it’s been absolutely flat out for me event wise, car building wise, work wise, everything, so let’s start with a bit of a recap.

Some of you fine people may know that im rocking a new rig this year, which has been a big part of my inability to transform rubbish thoughts and sightings to print and slap them up on the blog. Yes that’s right, im back in another sprinter, again backed up with datsun power and topped of with some period correct 80’s weatherboard house paint. It’s a good feeling to get in a car and not have to question what part will be falling off today when you begin your drive, certainly something I will miss about the old (but not forgotten) sprinter that is now just a myth to everyone aside for the lucky person of which the car may be sitting in the front yard of their house. I attended Vicdrifts Winton summer matsuri as the new cars first real outing, awesome event as always, each year Vicdrift push the envelope with this event and it proves to be a massive weekend of drinking, drifting, smashing cars and inheriting STD’s. This event was followed up by Round 1 of the GK Tech Vicdrift championship, having fixed all the issues with the car from matsuri, I thought nothing could stop me, aside from 3rd gear getting mysteriously misplaced and a young man known as Agges. After battling and going through to a re-run in the top 8 with Agges he got the upper hand on me and went through, eventually going on to win the event. Congratulations to Agges (1st), Jarrad Klingberg (2nd) and Scott Schembri (3rd).

Now what we’re really here for, ADGP round one, Symmons Plains, Tasmania.

It began on Monday night for me, as I sat on the side of a dark, clean, safe road in Tottenham waiting for my tow truck to cease trying to catch fire whilst I tried to figure out how to get my truck home again with its massive overheating issues and cracked head, but more importantly how I was going to get my sprinter down to the Spirit Of Tasmania on Thursday night. I overcame this issue by ahh, “acquiring” some… err, “very temporary” registration and simply driving it to the boat, ducking, weaving and hiding from the friendly law enforcers of Victoria. Once there, I was greeted by some of the South Australian big players, some Queenslanders that appeared to have had towed a car over 1,000km behind a Honda CRV, some dirty Victorians and one very keen Western Australian. Seeing all of these wild cars at the dock gave me a breath of relief, as I simply parked in a position so that if we had unwanted attention, they would cop it and I would bail, ha. I always consider the boat trip, an opening ceremony to any Tassie event, full of laughter from the very beginning, from watching people try and get low cars up and down the ramps onto the boat, old people clutching their ears at the sound of Hayden Buckham’s VE Holden ute as it idled up the ramp, Vicdrift President Yoshi Abbey getting over the top drunk at the boats bar and stripping down to nothing but his gun holster and then also having my starter motor pack it in as I attempted to disembark from the boat. It was going to be a good trip.

Saturday rang in, it was a slow start. Most people were tired, some were even still asleep, I on the other hand, was slightly erect at the thought of being back out on track in Tasmania. Eventually we had made it to drivers briefing, most were eager to drive, others simply seemed to prefer dragging briefing out with unfunny comments that had no relevance, either way, we were told what they wanted us to do, we just had to make it happen. Practice saw a wet track, for most people this was their first endeavour out on Symmons Plains which is a hard track to gain a grasp on at the best of times let alone in the icy conditions. Managing only three laps in an hour long practise session really went to prove how slippery the track was, the rescue crew certainly had their work cut out for them. For the remaining practices, the officials decided to split pro class into two groups, a compliment to them as there was clearly much better, more consistent flow, aided of course by the continually drying track.

During qualifying we were introduced to a small device that would really separate the men from the boys, Top Gun, and by that, I do mean speed gun. It was very interesting to see what speeds people were hitting during their two qualifying runs as I really had no idea due to never having had a speedo in my car, or a tacho, lets face it, my water temp gauge doesn’t work either, don’t get me started on my fuel gauge, I usually base my speeds on what my oil pressure is, so it was good to find out that about 90psi is around the 150km/h mark. As for Rob Whyte and Ben Purtell, their oil pressure gauges must be off the hook as they were consistently hitting around the 160km/h read outs on the gun, even with Ben doing scando’s, cop that scando haters. Correct me if im wrong (that’s the beauty of this blog, I probably AM wrong all the time, you might leave a comment to correct me, but really, as if I know how to scroll down to read comments) but I believe Rob Whyte set the needle for the weekend at 161km/h in his second qualifying run, and to think we operate under a Level 2 “NON-SPEED” license. Next time I get done at 161, im blaming Rob Whyte and CAM’s/AASA.

I managed to qualify with what I thought were two good runs into position 15, just up from the equator, I was happy with that. This saw me go into battle with 18th place qualifier, Michael Bonney. Just our luck, as we sat on the start line the sky opened up and it rained, oh god did it rain. As I very cautiously lead our first run, I was quietly hoping for a spin from Michael, to his credit, he went against my wishes and sat very neatly in behind me. As the tables turned I couldn’t quite get the drive in the wet conditions to stick on Bonney’s (freshly painted, looking good!) door. Hoping for a re-run, my weekend was cut short and Michael advanced to the top 16. Watching the remainder of the top 32 battles, it was very apparent who had gotten used to the track quicker and also who had the experience in the rain with some surprising upsets.

The battles for the rest of the day were pretty different to say the least, we saw Lloyd Smith out in the ultimate street drifters dream, Jason Baldocks RB25 powered R31. Lloyd jumped in the car late on Saturday after breaking a selector fork in his infamous KE70, not only that, Lloyd then qualified and battled in Jason’s R31 with a busted 3rd gear, seriously, lock up your daughters cause this kid is HARD on boxes. Luke Fink was running around like a mad man (which is funny in itself) looking for a MAP sensor to get the Holfords Motors S14 back out on track, which as most of you would know by now, he certainly did. Agges, who was plagued with issues all weekend, including still being on the dyno half an hour before the boat was meant to leave, was also seen stealing power steering pumps out of innocent spectators cars to get his car back in action. Danny “Denzo” Vahoumis was forced out of his top 4 battle with Luke Fink with a snapped coilover, it was rumoured to be sabotage from the judges for repeatedly calling telling them to stay away from the food van. Ender sustained some cracks in his intake manifold, he said his in-car laptop gave him no warning that there was any danger to manifold.

With Vahoumis out of the action, Ben Purtell claimed a well deserved third position which only left Fink and Rob Whyte to claim the top two spots on the podium. Its not all that exciting when you have two highly regarded, experienced drivers in the final, they both had perfect lines, good angle, of course huge speed BUT WE WANT CARNAGE. Still, I defiantly would not have wanted to be in the judge’s shoes, the hard decision was made and Fink held down his reigning championship.

A hotly contested privateer class saw some awesome battles and some even more crazy cars, my favourite of which would have been Luke Duffey’s Mazda 626 fitted with a turbo Holden V6s by the look of things, sounded and looked mental, I love seeing “outside the square” set ups. With the top two positions having a prize of a run in pro class the heat was on, however one driver was really standing out, Josh How, as in “How did he get away with not entering pro?”. Josh took the win over Nathan Clarke. The tallest man alive, Jake Crawford had to prove himself in the top 4 and managed to take away 3rd place.

My choice for “favourite run of the weekend” (something I just thought up, don’t let the inverted comma’s confuse you and make you think I planned this) would have to go to Michael Prosenik in his re-run against Matt Hambridge. So tight with his proximity, big speed and massive angle, even as the chase car. Congratulations, you win my verbal praise.

With the formalities of the competition over, it was time for me to pack up and face the biggest battle all weekend… Tyre Scrub Vs. Tasmania Police on the drive back to Hobart. A gruelling hour and a half battle which eventually saw Tyre Scrub win as Tasmania Police were no where to be seen, yet my sidewall still somewhat existed.

Massive thank you goes to all the officials, rescue, and organisers that made round one of ADGP 2012 happen, Drifting Tasmania and all the people who helped me personally, Aaron at Import Monster, Leigh at Inverse Tyres, Jake at JDI Fabrications, my girlfriend Nicole, Skin for being my pit crew and consistently being the most consistently naked person I know and the remainder of HTS division for their hospitality whenever im in Tasmania, its always good to have them, even if they try to shower with you or get you in trouble as they jump into spa’s naked with 14 year old girls.

Photo’s have been poached from Annie Nguyen (facebook page- Dorifuto Shashin) and Joey Canals (JackedIt).

Until next time friends, fix your cars and do a burnout in your shed, put it on youtube, we all love skids.

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