The final round of the 2016 series of King of the Ring would prove to be the most challenging! The track was set up to be a gauntlet of 9 clipping points, covering two laps of the oval which this time would be ran in a counter clockwise direction.
The cars would start on what would be traditionally the first corner before proceeding to the pace cone at the banger start/finish line in front of the judging and commentary tower. From the pace cone the battle begins and the cars have to immediately throw themselves into the first clip which was a football hanging off of what looks like an old fashioned hangman’s gallow on the wall overhanging the start of turn one. The cars would then have to take a wide line through the first corner to avoid the plastic barriers on the inside of the turn and to set themselves up for the second clip which was on the wall on the far side of the corner. They then transition down the straight to the third clip which was on the inside of the oval and swing back round to the forth clip, another hanging football, on the entrance to the back corner. They then dive to the inside of the corner to clip five on the curb and back out to the wall for clip six. Clip 7 is on the second transition and clips 8 and 9 are in the same place as 1 and 2 then the cars go over the finish line.
If you were as confused reading that as I was writing it then allow me to show you a picture which I stole from Martin Cheeseman’s facebook, hi Martin! You can keep as a reference for the following battles. I’m not 100% sure why Ron is portrayed as a tow truck. I’ve met a few people that look like tow trucks in the past and Ron certainly isn’t one of them.
Kris Morris from Team S1 and Danny Grundy would be judging this evening and Mark Lappage and Steve Biagioni would be in the commentary booth.
Anyway, onto the battles!
Top qualifier Alistair Sutton in a E36 coupe on 5 series turbines/roulettes would battle David King who was driving a blue Mk1 MX5. Sutton crossed the line several car lengths ahead of King who unfortunately had a little straighten by the judging tower. The cars swapped around and David King had a much better second lap until a spin at corner 6. Sutton was on his door the whole way round though and had to brake to avoid hitting King as he spun sending him straight towards the wall. It’s a cringy thing to watch as myself and that wall have had some encounters in the past, thankfully Sutton somehow saved it and ran the wall with style over to the finish line.
After a red flag restart/quick practise battle Richard Bowman Daniels would battle Aiden Egan in a green E36 from Team HD. Egan took the advantage in the lead position but then ran into the wall hard on the chase run. Touching the brakes at Arena pretty much guarantees you are going in. Ron quickly came round in his Transit recovery truck, which looks nothing like the one in the picture, top push the disabled car out of the way.
In the next battle Oliver Bolton in a silver E36 touring was chasing Dan Tyler from Team S1. The first battle went without incident but Dan Tyler was pushing hard in his chase run and back to back off a couple of times to avoid contact. He did maintain proximity but unfortunately did knock over one of the plastic barriers on track meaning he was scored a zero.
Jon Hudd from MAPT Motorsports and Harry Reading (I hope I heard hi name correctly!) were next. Hudd pretty much dominated in his chase run, running the qualifying line well and pulling several car lengths on his opposition. He chased well too bar a small contact by clip 8 which disrupted Hudd’s drift, presumably as he was trying to avoid the contact. The judges gave Hudd the victory though and I concur. He was the dominant driver in that battle despite the small mistake.
A silver and purple compact driven by Adam Young battled a blue compact driven by Andrew Scrivens. Young ran into the wall between clips 5 and 6 giving the blue car the advantage that would carry him to victory.
James Wilkins and Alex McKenzie would be up next. It’s unusual to see these two in battle so early as they are both great drivers and regulars at King of the Ring however McKenzie took a hard hit on the passenger side front wheel damaging his steering and making the car hard to control. Sadly McKenzie spun literally on initiation to the first corner giving Wilkins a huge advantage! He did manage to limp the car round in his lead run, pretty well it must be said considering the circumstances. Wilkins had the advantage though and took the win.
Paul Parnell would lead against Wilson in a red E36 saloon. Parnell took a wide line past clip 5 but delivered a great chase run giving him the win.
Darrel Smith in his E46 and Hollie Haney in her Z32 Nissan 300ZX would be next. Smith would lead and Haney straightened and dropped back right on clip 1 which set out to give Smith a big advantage as he powered along the back straight. However Smith shut his car down after clip 5 and rolled into the infield as Haney drew up behind him. He seemed to rectify whatever the issue was in seconds though and the pair drove back around to the start line. Smith did put on a good chase run and kept proximity to Haney. It wasn’t enough to really determine a proper advantage in the judges eyes though so they went one more time. In the first OMT battle Haney sadly took out one of the plastic barriers scoring her a zero and giving Smith the advantage he would need to take the victory.
Chris Taylor in his 200sx S13 would battle Ian Blackett, the regular photographer at the Santa Pod DWYB days. The battle was very very tight, both drivers put in a great pair of runs. After some deliberation from the judges they decided that Chris Taylor would go through. A pair of fantastic battles though!
Martin Cheeseman was up against a E36 estate. Again both drivers put down a fantastic battle. Sadly the 36 estate clipped one of the plastic barriers in the final run which gave Cheeseman the ultimate advantage and allowed him to get though.
Ryan Sargeant of Team Twisted was battling Jake Rolls. Rolls over rotates by clip 8 giving Sargeant the 10-0 advantage going into the second battle which Sargeant also took a 10-0 advantage in after Rolls clipped one of the plastic barriers.
A turbo powered Volvo would come up against Martyn Giles in his Drift Cup S14 ‘Jaffa’. This would be the last outing of Jaffa as he is rebuilding his car into a new shell which is an S14a. The Volvo would lead first and Giles was able to maintain a good chase, a difficult thing to do when the power difference is so big. The little Volvo did slightly over rotate at clip 8 too which gave Giles the advantage. Giles’ led run, as one would expect was a domination, the power of the S14 able to pull the car around much much faster than the little Volvo. No real proximity could be maintained.
The bright orange BMW Z3 of Robbie Yates rolled up to the line next alongside Jamie Stanton. Another close pair of battles between two good drivers and the judges couldn’t determine the better driver! Both the one more time runs were both also very close! After some time the judges decided that Robbie Yates should take the victory.
Steve in the mint coloured E36 touring would spin by the first clip in his battle against Bradley Cousins in a wide arched E36 and then over rotated by clip 4 in the second battle.
Stephen Blanchard of Team S1 in the gold livery was battling a BMW in a really striking livery from Poland. Blanchard took the easy advantage over the other BMW in both battles and took the victory.
Rhys Gamble vs Lee Reed would round up the top 32. Both drivers put on a fantastic show and were able to sit on each other’s doors! Gamble took the victory though!
The top would start with Richard Bowman-Daniels, or the magician Paul Daniels, there seemed to be a bit of confusion. Maybe they were car sharing? Anyway Paul/Richard was against Alistair Sutton who was able to get a couple of car lengths ahead of Richard in the lead run and sat on his door in the chase giving him the victory.
Jon Hudd battled Oliver Bolton. This was a close one to call. Hudd led first and I would say took the advantage in that battle as Bolton, whilst maintaining proximity did make a few corrections. Bolton had a very fast and smooth lead run though. The judges agreed it was too close to call and the battle went to one more time. In the second set of battles Bolton made a few errors in the chase position once again. Hudd managed to keep a little closer to the fast tourer of Bolton this time which secured him the victory.
James Wilkins made a big error between clips one and two in his battle against the little blue compact of Andrew Scrivens. Wilkins would have to do put down quite a spectacular run to take the win now. The run he did put down was spectacular. He was flat out all the way around the track and maintained a great angle. He clipped one of the barriers however with automatically denotes a 10-0 victory to Scrivens. A fantastic effort by Wilkins though to come back from the mistake in the first run.
Up next was Darrel Smith and Paul Parnell. This was a difficult run to judge. Both are fantastic drivers in similar cars. I thought both did a good job and the battle would have gone to one more time. The judges saw something I didn’t though and the victory went to Darrel Smith.
Chris Taylor and Martin Cheeseman were next to battle. Taylor managed to pull several car lengths on Cheeseman on the first run but took out one of the plastic barriers between clips 8 and 9 on the second which would give Cheeseman the advantage and the win.
The next battle was a bit of an odd one. Ryan Sergeant in the Team Twisted E36 was battling Martyn Giles. From what I saw Giles was unable to keep proximity to Sergeant in his chase run and then ran wide at the clips in his lead run whilst Sergeant was sitting on his door. The judges decided to give Giles the win by a 1 point advantage though. If anyone could leave a comment explaining what happened there I would very much appreciate it.
Robbie Yates was able to take a victory over Brad Cousins after Cousins spun transitioning between clips 7 and 8. It was a shame Cousins spun in the first run as the second really showed how good both drivers were and how good that battle could have been.
The skill of two regular KOTR drivers Steven Blanchard and Rhys Gamble was shown after contact. Blanchard, who is a great chase driver and is always sitting on the door of his opponent went a little too deep on Gamble on the corner between clips 4 and 5 and made some fairly big contact. Both drivers were able to maintain their angle and were able to carry on with the run as if nothing had happened. Gamble returned the favour on the following one too which put a big smile on my face as I’m sure it did the rest of the audience! Throughout the rest of both runs both drivers were giving each other space in the transitions and were able to maintain proximity throughout the track. A real pleasure to watch and they really went to show how good drifting can look at King of the Ring. Since both made contact the judges put it to one more time. The one more time battle was again superb and was decided by only 1 point! It was Blanchard who took the win.
It was going to be hard to put on a show to follow Blanchard and Gamble but Jon Hudd and Alistair Sutton managed it. Both very clean and consistent drivers who gave their all in this battle. Sutton would once again go through though. A great effort by Hudd regardless.
Scrivens and Smith would be another good battle. Smith had the quicker of the two cars which meant Scrivens had to make a couple of corrections and dives to keep up with him. Smith is also a great chase driver and was able to take the win. It would be interesting to see that battle again if Scrivens had a faster car *hint hint*
Martyn Giles and Martin Cheeseman were next. Cheeseman simply dominated this in both runs. Although on paper Giles had the better car Cheeseman had the experience. That’s what is needed to win at these events and the walls that enclose the track at Arena or intimating when you aren’t used to them.
Rounding off the Top 8 Robbie Yates would battle Rhys Gamble. This was another battle I really wouldn’t like to judge piloted by two amazing drivers. Both stuck to each others doors all the way around the track! The judges decided that Gamble should go through! Great driving all evening by Robbie however, looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next year.
The first of two battles in the top 4 (because that’s how maths works) would be between Darrel Smith and Alistair Sutton. Darrel sadly half spun to a stop after clip 1. A shame as he had been driving fantastically all evening.
Rhys Gamble was the dominant driver in his battle against Martin Cheeseman. I was quite surprised at the gap that Gamble was able to pull on Cheeseman actually, I was expecting the battle too be a lot closer as both are great drivers!
Again, a battle between Martin Cheeseman and Darrel Smith should have been close. Darrel got to demonstrate how good he is a chase driver but Cheeseman once again left a huge gap and then spun. I hope everything is ok, that car normally keeps up pretty well!
Alistair Sutton confirmed himself as King of the Ring after Rhys Gamble spun on initiation! A shame it came to a spin but well done to both drivers and all the drivers in the comp!
Well, that’s the final round of the 2016 King of the Ring with Alistair Sutton crowned champion! All the rounds have been so good this year, thoroughly entertaining! I want to give big pat on the back to all the drivers that have been involved, to Steve and Adam for organising it, To Ron, Hippy, Jodie and the rest of the Rayleigh Tyres family for making it run smoothly and to the commentators and judges and to Arena Essex for allowing this to take place.
There has been some really interesting track designs and some great uses of the oval which have really tested the drivers and made it an interesting watch. It’s been a brilliant year and I can’t wait to see what next year brings!
Thanks for reading!