Petrolkoppe, kwaai news. After long years, our local boytjie Sean February, who you have been reading about in this column ever since his early days of spinning and his coming of age as he tackled the drifting game, that very same Sean, stood proud on the podium at the last Supadrift nationals.
That’s right, Sean has earned second place after Zein Hussein for the round in what is his first podium in the gold cup.
It’s a moerse achievement both for him and his support crew, as this is a guy who has been repping hard for the boasting rights of the Kaapse drift scene across the country ever since this event started some few years ago.
Bobby Nitro spoke to the sideways star after the event.
He says: “I’m still getting used to the feeling, it has been a long road to finally come right.”
Sean drove a battered old BM for years, pushing it hard and getting podium once in the silver cup.
But this year he has had built for him a drift-ready Nissan S13 with a stock 2jz motor, a Garrett turbo, bigger injectors, imported cams, an M3 gearbox and running on ethanol.
This new car, according to Sean, has made all the difference. He says: “With the BM we were always on the back foot, now with the S13 we have a fair chance in the nationals. Now that we have sorted out the final tweaks, namely the new suspension, the car is on the level to compete properly.”
He adds that the car felt a little under-powered with the altitude at round 4 up in Joburg, but that the suspension made a major difference.
When asked by Bobby to give a blow-by-blow account of the final against Zein Hussein, Sean recounts: “Well, after the gear lever broke in the semis, and we managed to fix it by jamming a screwdriver to the lever in the five minutes allotted time, then my motor giving up in the final, I must say,” he adds rather curiously, “I can’t really remember anything. I was in an otherwise mood, must have been all the adrenalin.”
That’s what we smaak about this guy, he’s always got an odd quirk.
But the driver, although he tends to get the accolades, is but one part of a team that gets both driver and car through the event.
And the February crew is renowned for pulling out all the stops to keep the car on the track.
Bobby spoke to head mechanic Mike Thomas of Mike Tech, a specialist mechanic operating out of Diep River.
Mike’s the man responsible for keeping the car going, which in this game is half the story.
A competing drift car is pushed to the limit, the heat is immense, things break all the time, and must be fixed no matter what.
Mike says: “We rebuilt this car totally in six weeks, and when Sean got into the Top 8, it was hard work to keep it all hanging together.”
But what exactly does Mike do on the day, you might ask. Everything, is the answer.
He explains: “When you are running a motor flat out, the car gets really hot, plus the car is going sideways so the natural cooling airflow through front vents doesn’t happen. Then there’s the suspension and top of the list is keeping the driver safe.”
So in between runs you’ll find Mike doing “a bolt check”, which means checking wheels bolts, suspension, as well as looking for oil leaks, cooling the engine down, tyre pressure and more. Mike’s rarely chilling, but constantly on alert for those “gremlins that almost always find their way in and get you knocked out”.
So for him the podium “made it all worth it, and now we’re there, we’re gonna stay there for a while”.
Last weekend the Rock Raceway in Brakpan, well, rocked. Sunny skies, hot promo girls, braaivleis, top drivers from around the country and further afield, hot promo girls (did I mention that yet?) and hi-tech machinery. Petrolkop heaven.
A small change in the structure of qualifying allowed a 26 out of a field of 33 drivers to qualify, and the battles were on.
Lawrence Minnie of website SA Drift says: “The battle of the day went to Sean February and LeeRoy Frans in the top 8, these two drivers fought each other tooth and nail, resulting in two One More Times. The aggressive nature and close proximity resulted in a side-by-side initiation and literal door-to-door wall rides. It would eventually be Sean that advanced after a small straight-line error from LeeRoy.”
Zein Hussein would progress to the final after narrowly beating out Paolo Gouveia.
While Sean found himself, yet again, in a OMT situation doing battle with Richat Kahn.
Lawrence adds: “A shout out must go to Sean’s pit crew who managed to fix a broken gear lever in record time, allowing Sean to take a win after Kahn’s car died mid-drift in the final corner.”
After such a dramatic day, the final was a little bit of an anti-climax as Zein and Sean faced off. After their first run Zein led and, wanting to save the car, Sean coasted across the line, handing the win of the fourth round of the national series to Zein Hussein.
The competition has definitely clicked up a notch now and with the next round in just four weeks, up at Dezzi Raceway in Port Shepstone, it’s anyone’s game now.