The finals of the National Drift Series at Carnival City last weekend provided a never-before-seen battle, a match-up that not only wowed the crowd but flaunted probability in the process.
It was a fitting end to a kwaai season, and it took place in searing heat as the mercury touched the 37 degree mark, as drivers and fans were treated to super heated action in more ways than one (whether it liked or not).
The Supadrift organisers say they weren’t expecting too many competitors to make the trip upcountry but were very happy to see drivers arrived in force.
With a field of 30 drivers, the practice sessions kicked off and a lot more than tyres were melted. Sadly Clare Vale dropped out with a busted engine, and then Fayaaz Alibhai and David Rae went down to mechanical glitches.
George Myburgh took top honours in qualifying, narrowly clinching top position from Paolo Gouveia and teammate Adam Shefer.
But the podium was decided early after Shane Gutzeit, who displayed some of the most consistent driving all season, qualified in fifth, having gained enough points to put the championship out of reach of nearest contenders Jim McFarlane and Paolo Gouveia.
But the best is yet to come. Capetonian Supadrift stalwart Sean Febuary lost out to Matthew Cooper after Sean made contact with the youngster from Limpopo.
Meanwhile, McFarlane and Gouveia went on to battle various opponents in the Top 16 and Top 8 with the second place on the podium still to be decided. Nobody, however, was looking at veteran motorsport man Des Gutzeit as he steadily made his way through the field.
JP van Der Spuy won the battle with George Myburgh after Myburgh over-rotated in their battle, gift-wrapping van der Spuy’s passage into the Top 8 where he would meet Jim McFarlane.
Did we mention it was hot, and that takes its toll? By late afternoon, the stresses of the day and heat soak had drivers and cars all running hot. To add to the tension, the judges handed out a multitude of One More Times as drivers took it to the line.
Proximity and line were the deciding factors that saw Paolo Gouveia, Jim McFarlane, Shane and Dez Gutzeit make their way into the final four.
McFarlane, a serious contender as well as an organiser of the event, lost out to Shane Gutzeit who, having already clinched the championship was still pulling out all the stops despite a temperamental SR20 engine that was intermittently sputtering with overboost issues.
Paolo Gouveia would narrowly lose out to Dez Gutzeit, who it would seem had drawn some lucky cards as he progressed through to the final not only with hard fought battles but also driver errors of his challengers.
Then for the grand finale. A Hollywood screen writer could not have penned a better ending to a hot challenging day as, for the first time in national drifting history, a father and son would meet in the final.
And ironically, the two drivers battling for second place in the championship would meet in the battle for third and fourth place.
There was a lot on the line in the closing stages. Paolo Gouveia fought hard but Jim McFarlane would maintain a slightly better proximity and snatch the win and the second place in the championship.
Then it was the Gutzeits. Everyone was on their feet to witness these two giants in the sport face off, knowing that the father and the son are fierce competitors who aren’t afraid to put family ties aside when it comes to winning.
But, and this is unfortunate, the intermittent engine problems that had been plaguing Shane all day chose this moment to rear up.
Halfway through the final run with Shane leading his dad by two points, his SR20 powered Silvia sputtered and straight-lined, handing Dez Gutzeit his first podium and first win in Supadrift Nationals.
It was exactly the kind of finish that will keep fans, judges and drivers coming back next year.