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Byline: Darren Liggett

A FEW weeks ago local man, and drift legend Mark "Sidewaysbuff" Luney was on course to take two major drift championships in one year.

However, not everything was to go according to plan. Going into the final round of the British Drift Championship, at Knockhill Racing Circuit, Buff led the standings by two points. As many of his followers know, this track is one of Luney's favourites, and he knows it like the back of his hand, so it was going to take some sort of a miracle for the other drivers to beat him.

Driving the SATS Toyota Supra, owned by Chris Arthur, the car was one of the most competitive in the paddock, and was sure to help Buff achieve the win he so badly wanted.

From the off, it was obvious Mark was the man to beat. In his very first run, he initiated into the first blind corner just shy of 100mph.

The qualifying session would see who was going to be paired up for of my in the competition proper, and on his warm-up run Buff drove like his life depended on it, and had a perfect lap. On his second main run however, disaster struck.

uk or Luney noticed a reading on the oil pressure display that didn't look good. According to the computer, it had a pressure of -0.01. After completing his lap, he nursed the car back to the pits, and on closer inspection it was evident that there was no oil pump left.

As a result of the pump blowing, it left a huge hole in the sump of the engine which was beyond repair. Mark was now out of the competition.

After the event, all the scores were added up, with Buff and the team coming fourth overall in the championship, which was still highly impressive.

Speaking afterwards, Mark said:"Fourth place overall is a great result for the team, considering a year ago the car wasn't even competitive.

"It looks like our hard work over the winter, as well as our constant development over the season, has definitely paid off.

"Without a doubt we will be back next year. We have huge plans for the Supra. The team and I will be getting together at SATS HQ in the next few weeks to begin work on the car, and trust me when I say that our car will be the one to watch next season."

But that wasn't the end of Buff's chances to get some silverware, as he was still to drive in the final round of the European Drift Championship, which was held last weekend at Snetterton.

Driving the famous SVA Cosworth Nissan 350z, Buff won, and also took the crown, here last year, and wasn't going to go down without a fight.

In morning practice, Luney lay down the rubber hard, and left his mark on the track. Qualifying high, alongside Paul Conlon, he was up against Brett Castle in his first dual battle.

As a driver had to retire from the competition, and another was absent, Mark got a free entry into the top six.

The first run was a close call, with Mark having the slight advantage due to Castle straightening slightly, and taking it 6-4. The second run was once again close, but with Luney having to straighten slightly to avoid a collision, it was 6-4 against Buff and so they both had to run one more time.

The third run was again so close that it was called 5-5. However, on their final lap, a big mistake from Castle saw him spin on the chicane, and so Mark progressed through to the semi-final.

His opponent was Coalisland man Paul Conlon, who, in the Sumo Power Nissan S15, was on great form all day thanks to a new mapping in his car.

He was also Mark's opponent in the final last year, so both were eager to outrun the other to progress to the final.

Their first run saw Mark lead, and perform a flawless drift the entire way around the course, and took the advantage.

However, everything didn't go to plan, and whilst chasing Paul into the chicane, Buff uncharacteristically understeered and slid off the track, awarding Paul a place in a final.

It wasn't over though, as Mark could still take third place in the round, and was up against Andy Cooper.

In the first run, Coopers car was no match for the might of the Nissan 350z, as he powered into the distance in their first run, and took the advantage.

The second run saw Buff stick to the rear of Andy for the entire run, and with it Buff was granted third place on the day, but most importantly the title of 2010 European Drift Champion.

It now means that Mark is the only man in the UK to have won two drifting championships consecutively.

Speaking afterwards, he revealed that it was to be his last competitive drive in the 350z. He went on to thank everyone in the team who had helped him over the past four years.

In particular he thanked Raef Davies, MD of SVA Imports, who own and develop the car alongside Cosworth.

Mark said, "Having spent the past four years driving for SVA, which I am extremely grateful for, I felt it was time to move on, and not only pass the baton on to another driver, but I want to have a new challenge."


WINNER 3Mark with Team SVA Cosworth BUFF J LUCK The SATS Supra suffered engine failure due to a blown oil pump
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 5, 2010
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