Last weekend saw the snug Castle Combe circuit buried within the sleeply hills of Wiltshire being completely bombarded by Japanese performance cars and likeminded enthusiasts. Dubbed as Europe’s biggest Japanese car show, there were plenty of trade stalls, car clubs, a ton of track time to go around and new for this year’s Japfest a drift battle between five of the best drift teams in the UK... [read more]

What makes Japfest so interesting in comparison to other car shows is definitely the venue, Castle Combe. Its odd layout where the inside of the circuit is entirely unused means you’ll have car clubs literally littered around the entire outside of the track. With so many cars and so many visitors, moving around can get a bit tight sometimes.

With that being said it didn’t stop the big turnout from tuner fans up and down the country, with Japfest swarming in a sea of all the usual suspects. VTEC powerhouses new and old, Evos as far as the eye can see, Subarus lined up aplenty and Nissan Skylines and Z’s all on display with their owners grinning alongside. In hindsight, I think the show is outgrowing the circuit itself.

There was a real brilliant mix of old and new tuner cars around as well. Datsuns mingling with modern Nissan Zs, and there was a great show on display from the Skyline crowd, with an array of Skylines from R32 all the way to R35 GTR we all know and love today.

The number of Evos at Japfest were astonishing, with quite possibly the biggest Evo car lot in Europe. The majority of the west side of the club area was literally buried with Evo wings.

Great weather all day also meant the track was busy from start to finish. Many fans who were brave enough to take their car onto the circuit had the unique opportunity to thrash their cars around the Castle Combe circuit. It also presented racing drivers with additional track time for their cars, such as this John Danby Racing NSX which competes in the UK GT Cup series.

But remember, motorsport can be dangerous and accidents are always a possibility. It wasn’t such a brilliant day for the owner of this Celica who spun off into the tyre wall down at Quarry corner. Fortunately both driver and passenger were unhurt.

That wasn’t all the track action though, with this year’s spectators given an extra special treat in the form of a five way drift battle between the top drift teams in the UK. Driftworks, Team Garage D, Team Southwest, Team Rocket Bunny Europe and Team Japspeed all turned up with their drivers ready to battle it out for a unique mini competition and demonstration for the Japfest fans.

Unlike traditional drift competitions where a select few corners are used for judging, this drift battle required drivers to drift all the way from Camp corner all the way through to Quarry corner towards to the top end of the circuit. In addition to that, the drifters were kind enough to create some smoke for the fans around the other sections of the circuit after their runs. Each team would drift together one after another, opposed to two cars competing in tandem.

After an initial practice session and two runs for the teams, it was no surprise to find Driftworks the overall victor of the drift battle, with Dan Chapman and his signature blue Nissan PS13 leading pack whilst closely followed by Phil Morrison in his new and improved Nissan S15.

A worthy mention for the good display of drifting from the Garage D team, with their pair of R34 Skylines putting out a lot of smoke. It was great to see Julian Smith out there with his Blitz R34 – a real throwback to Nomuken and his D1GP car.

So a big congrats to Team Driftworks for winning the drift battle at Japfest. After a long hot day filled with plenty of tuned imports and drifting action, I bring this article to a close with a shot of this stunning example of a Datsun 240Z. I think it really summarises what a great success Japfest 2010 was. Even amongst all the tuned modern imports that were on display on the day, there is still a place for a modern classic such as this.

Photo/Editorial: Calvin Chu

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