In 2014 Estonian Drift Association performed the biggest job yet. Two events were held in Tallinn and every location was new to everybody. Drivers worked on the cars and appearance pretty well and already in May ’14 we witnessed new pro-drivers, new never-seen-before cars and sponsors.
Team Smokehunters’ fleet consisted of a well known BMW 2002 and a completely new Ford Mustang with a BMW “inside”.
Their main rival, both on the track and on the web (fight for fans on facebook is very consistent), Team Ghost got a big sponsor and was looking strong.
Team NRR ditched the E30 and got a Supra (also with BMW inside) instead.
Allan Lätt’s team massively moved to the Pro scoring board and, of course, teams with less obvious branding and “privateers” all promised to make it a tough year for the more experienced ones.
Future will indeed show us that privateers would be the ones to watch in 2014.
Season started in Saku Concert Hall’s backyard in Tallinn. Qualification went without big surprises: Taavi Toomara took 1st, Martin Vaga showed a strong performance and finished 2nd and 3rd was Henri Puhmas in his mad Audi.
One thing I remember about that event: everything was in smoke all the time. Relatively slow speeds and high revs did the job.
Things started to be interesting in duals. Eduard Vahemets hit the wall with his new Mustang, Taavi Toomara lost to Jako Pino, Jarmo Luht gave position away to Karl-Sander Lebbin. Suddenly there wasn’t a top driver to cheer.
Finn Harri Kosunen was too strong for J. Pino in the semi-finals, and Harold Valdma took the edge on Martin Vaga.
In the finals Harold made two solid runs and was crowned the winner on the 1st event of 2014 Championship.
Riga greeted everybody with rainy weather. Already after qualifications I put my equipment away and comfortably watched the action from spectators’ area.
Latvians were strong as always and only one Estonian made it to the final 4. Top Estonian who didn’t make it was Taavi Toomara.
Rait Lember was behind Toomara in his toxic yellow BMW ute.
The man who represented Estonia against Latvians Ivo Cirulis, Eriks Ulass and Timas Simniska was Henri Puhmas. For the joy of latvian crowds since they love Puhmas the most from all the rest of “Igaunija” drifters.
Henri finished 3rd giving the top spots to fellow Latvians, but with this result Henri mixed the cards pretty well in Estonian rankings.
Next event was held in the beginning of June in the South of Estonia. It was an event that I missed, so you’ll get only dry facts about this one.
Harold Valdma was one of the casualties, braking his front suspension.
Man who won was our very own Taavi Toomara battling in the final with Eriks Ulass. This success cemented his position at Number 1 spot at the time being. It was a very hot July weekend when penultimate round of the championship took place in Parnu at Auto24ring.
I was riding between American Beauty Car Show and Drag Race in Haapsalu and Drift event in Parnu.
Kristjan Klemets from Ghost Team made it to the track for the first time this season and showed a steady pace in qualifying. Jarmo Luht on the other hand had a disaster and got 00 points for both qualifying rounds.
All drivers trained hard with their ideal lines and tried to make the best of the tough race circuit layout.
Valdma knew that if he wants to win the championship, he needs to try harder. And he did. While Taavi Toomara was battling Edmunds Erglis for the 3rd spot, Harold was aiming for the win while challenged by Eriks Ulass.
It looked almost as planned. Storm was almost here, Taavi lost the 3rd spot to Edmunds and Harold took his second win of the championship.
And here comes the last round. Street circuit in Tallinn. NEZ event + Estonian Drift Final. I arrived exactly at the time when first black line was drawn.
Minutes passed and the place was packed with grumpy racing cars ready to slay their tires.
Atmosphere was as always friendly, but also very tense at the front. Title was up for grabs.
Circuit was hardcore, literally, concrete walls all the way. Competition was tough, North European Zone championship always brings those crazy talanted Scandinavians.
Taavi Toomara made a spin in the Top 8 and his hopes for another title were vanishing. In theory he could still make it, but only if Harold Valdma finishes outside Top 3.
Top 4: Valdma versus Veikkanen. If Estonian advances, he becomes the champion and can battle for the NEZ event win. And what happens, Harold goes into the barrier and makes life hard for himself. Now he battles for the 3rd spot with Allan Latt and only if he wins, he will get the trophy.
Allan and Harold go head to head and the E46 driver pulls it off. He’s third, title is his – final charge was successful.
Many say that consistancy is the key to success, but in such packed conditions as Estonian Drift Championship, wins are vital.
Henri Puhmas got third place in the season because he was consistant and that extra success in Riga guaranteed a podium spot for him.
Another consistant driver was Martin Vaga. He placed 4th in his very first season on pro-level. I’m sure we can expect more from him in the future.
Young Harold Valdma proved that he has a great weapon on wheels that rarely goes wrong, that he has enough skills to challenge top drivers, not only in Estonia and Scandinavia, but also Europe. He has enough support to compete on European level and aquire new sponsorship promoting Estonian Drifting scene across Europe.
Estonian Championship in whole needs to take examples from European series, make it more engaging, more media orientated, promotion of the series and drivers needs to be made on a larger scale. Organisers need to set goals and hopes to motivate drivers, need to help them to compete in international series.
Drivers themselves could be more open for promo-events, engage more with fans and promoters.
In the end, government and municipalities could help more by finding compromises and helping the sport to grow.
Find more on www.facebook.com/wheelsbywovka