Oran Park Raceway
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Fine Wins 2008 Drift Australia Championship
by Mitchell Adam
NARELLAN, NSW -- South Australian driver Leighton Fine is the new Australian Drift Champion, after finishing second in the final round of the Toyo Tires Drift Australia Series at Oran Park Raceway today.
Beau Yates (Toyota Racing Developments AE86) won the season finale, with second place enough for Fine (Commercial Truck Sales Nissan 180SX) to secure his first championship.
Fine entered the weekend with a 70-point championship lead over Luke Fink (Holford Motors Nissan Silvia), but suffered a setback with a practice crash on Friday.
Once back on track, he and Fink progressed through their preliminary battles with ease, before meeting in the semi finals.
In a championship-defining battle, Fink needed to win the semi final and the event, and hope Fine lost the third-place battle in order to take the title.
However a spin by Fink in the first pass saw the battle and the championship go to Fine.
"It's a great feeling, I'm ecstatic," Fine said.
"It was a tense weekend, we just tried to focus on the individual battles rather than worry about the championship picture and it's gone our way.
"We've had a fantastic season, we've been competitive everywhere which is a credit to Team CTS and the work they've done all year."
Fine went on to face Yates in the final, where the Sydneysider and 2006 Australian Drift Champion was successful to take his first win of the year.
"Throughout the year we've been consistent but a win has eluded us," Yates said.
"We had a great run all weekend; getting the win at home and wrapping up third in the championship is a good way to end the season."
After losing to Fine in their Top Four battle, Fink went on to take third place for the weekend and second in the championship.
"Unfortunately we couldn't quite get the championship, but for a small team we're proud of what we've accomplished this year," Fink said.
"We won an event, finished on the podium at three other rounds and ended up second in the championship, which is a good year in anyone's book.
"Full credit to Leighton and Team CTS, they've done a great job all year and it's been a lot of fun battling with them."
As a result of their championship positions, Fine and Fink will each receive an invitation to compete in the new Red Bull Formula Drift World Championship event, taking place in America in November.
With his second-consecutive fourth-place finish, Khudar Elhaouli (JDS Auto Imports Nissan Silvia) moved up to take fourth in the championship.
Christian Pickering (Senwill Civil Nissan Silvia), Nathan Weissel (Federal Tyres Nissan Skyline), Eugene Arendsen (Mercury Motorsport Nissan 180SX) and Robbie Bolger (VIP Petfoods Holden Monaro) all ended their seasons with a Top Eight result.
Stewart Furze took out the Toyo Tires Super Drift Series season finale, while Josh Coote wrapped up the crown.
Telecasts of the 2008 Toyo Tires Drift Australia Series finale will commence on Sunday 19 October, on Speedweek, SBS.
For more information about the Toyo Tires Drift Australia Series, head to www.driftaustralia.com.au.
Toyo Tires Drift Australia Series Oran Park Top Eight
1. Beau Yates (NSW, Toyota Racing Developments Toyota AE86 Sprinter)
2. Leighton Fine (SA, Toyo Tires Nissan 180SX)
3. Luke Fink (VIC, Holford Motors Nissan Silvia)
4. Khudar Elhaouli (VIC, JDS Auto Imports Nissan Silvia)
5. Christian Pickering (SA, Senwill Civil Nissan Silvia
6. Nathan Weissel (NSW, Federal Tyres Nissan Skyline)
7. Eugene Arendsen (QLD, Mercury Motorsport Nissan 180SX)
8. Robbie Bolger (QLD, VIP Petfoods Holden Monaro)
Toyo Tires Drift Australia Series Standings
1. Leighton Fine (SA, Commercial Truck Sales Nissan 180SX) - 2299
2. Luke Fink (VIC, Holford Motors Nissan Silvia) - 2201
3. Beau Yates (NSW, Toyota Racing Developments Toyota AE86 Sprinter) - 2104
4. Khudar Elhaouli (VIC, JDS Auto Imports Nissan Silvia) - 1797
5. Christian Pickering (SA, Senwill Civil Nissan Silvia) - 1767
6. Robbie Bolger (QLD, VIP Petfoods Holden Monaro) - 1758
7. Adam May (SA, WheelWorx Nissan Skyline) - 1755
8. Tom Monkhouse (SA, Japanese Motorsport Nissan Silvia) - 1720