After weaving my way through some tiny, speed camera strewn, Welsh roads I arrived at the Pembrey circuit to find open fields, a deep blue sky and a cooling sea breeze.
The circuit was built in the late 80′s on a old RAF base and has since played host to an array of motorsports. It has been used many teams for testing purposes due to its secluded location and varied track layout with a good mix of corners. F1 teams such as Arrows, Benetton, Jordan and Williams have all tested at the track in the past, and legends Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost have put in some laps.
All was quiet when I arrived at 8am, with just the odd buzz of an impact wrench tightening a wheel nut or clatter of an air compressor inflating yet another tyre. Muffled voices came from the scruitineering shed as the driver briefing took place and there was an overall sense of calm before the storm, a feeling that it was all about to kick off.
Then, at 9:30 it did! Engines fired, tyres screeched and the roosting birds awoke from the surrounding trees and got the hell out of Pembrey. The crowds were already starting to gather by now, parking up on the banked viewing areas and settling in for the days entertianment.
The morning was filled with Top 32 battles. The course had been changed from the one used in Saturday’s qualifying so the Semi Pros got a practice run before their battles. The Pros and Super Pros just had to man up and get down to business!
I was disappointed to see Marc Huxley’s Volvo 240 Estate bow out after the steering broke during a backwards entry to the first hairpin but luckily the Black Smoke Racing team made the 8000 mile round trip over from Finland to bring another dose of individuality. Their twincharged (turbocharged & supercharged) OM606 diesel engined Mercedes estate certainly lived up to the back smoke name.
After lunch we entered the Top 16 battles, with the Semi Pro’s up first.
Damon Haskett showed that it’s not all about the power by taking his 185bhp BMW into 2nd place by beating last years Gymkhana Grid finalist, Luke Woodham in his Monster Energy S14a on the way.
In the Pro finals Alex Law fought his way through the Top 32 to beat Antony Mortley in his Skyline. The Car Loans For U outfit went on to prove themselves the highest scoring team at the event.
Gert Hoeckman in is V10 powered RX-7 beat Chris Smith to 3rd spot.
There were some upsets in the Super Pro Top 16 battles. Paul Conlan in his S14a took his place in the Top 8 when Lassa Tyres Simon Perry lost a wheel after a dirt drop on the last turn. David Waterworth in his V10 Viper powered Nissan S15 out-smoked Acorn Motorsport’s Steve “Baggsy” Biagioni and Driftworks’ Phil Morrison to finish just off the podium.
Abdulhadi Alqahtani the Saudi drift champion from the Alhazirah Ford Racing Team made the trek to Pembury in his 2013 Ford Mustang RTR-D as part of a European tour with Falken Tires driver Darren McNamara.
Both unfortunately neither made the cut thanks to Baggsy and Chris Hawkins respectively.
Also worth noting was Alex Law appearing again in the Super Pro class after a good qualifying result entitled him to try his hand with the big boys but he failed to make it past the Top 32.
In the Super Pro final Michael Marshall in the Team MnM BMW estate went up against the MG Crash Repairs 2JZ Altezza of Brendan Stone. Despite massive support for Team MnM from the crowd, Brendan took the win, putting him in 4th place in the championship going into round 3.
After all battles are done, and not before, the final results are revealed on the podium.
Shortly after, this happens!
So, the final results from round 2 are
Semi-Pro Top 3:
1st Nick Statham
2nd Damon Haskett
3rd Lee Barry
Pro Top 3:
1st Alex Law
2nd Antony Mortley
3rd Gert Hoeckman
Super-Pro Top 3:
1st Brendan Stone
2nd Michael Marshall
3rd Steve Moore
And to round off this report, a few more memorable moments caught on silicon.
Team Falken’s Matt Carter, the first surprise Top 32 exit of the day.
Mark Luney’s Supra, one of the smokiest cars on the circuit.
The wall is obscuring the view here, but this Greenlight TV cameraman actually has an enormous pair of steel balls. He didn’t flintch when Nigel Moody barrelled towards him backwards at speed. I hope his footage makes the edit when it airs on MotorsTV, Monday 24th June at 18:55.
And that’s it. Tranquility has been restored to South Wales and the whole show heads off to the Teesside Autodrome on the 5th to the 7th July.
If you missed our round 1 write up from Lydden Hill, you’ll find it here.
Photography & Words: Simon Pow