After three rounds of this year's Battle Royale championship, it came time to crown a champion at 'The Crossover' layout. With a championship on the line, it would be all to play for, not only for those at the top of the leaderboard, but for anyone else who could advance their position.
Marcus McCathie led the way and was my pick for the championship with 296 points, after two second places and a third. Jason Ferron was in second trailing by 35 points followed by South Australian Scott Miller on 249 points.
Both Patrick Barlee and Jordan Sanderson were also in the running for the championship but would be relying on everything going pear shaped for the top three. However, they did have a fair shot at snatching third place from Scott Miller.
As usual at 'The Crossover' layout, the first corner would be the trickiest, and the cold track didn't help which was thanks to brutal winds and early morning rain.
As others grew accustomed to the track, championship leader Marcus McCathie would have his car up on the jacks, and in need of a new harmonic balancer. Thankfully, the right part was acquired and McCathie would be back on track for qualifying.
That's when the rain came down making the track more slick, and qualifying battles treacherous. Rather than 90-point qualifying scores, the rain made proximity almost a non-factor, while the top scores were only 50 to 60 points. Despite this, the rising star of the last year, Jamie Stevkovski, would grab his first drifting 'Top Qualifier'.
The light would disappear and the track would dry up during the Top 16 battles. Notably, and for the fourth time this year, the S13 pairing of Adge Punaro and Marcus McCathie would face off, with Punaro winning once again, and leaving McCathie already in the position of being knocked out.
Mike Lake would be on form during round 4, defeating Jordan Sanderson as they both headed to the Top 12. Mike Lake had also handed championship contender Scott Miller his first loss, meaning that Miller would battle McCathie in a knockout battle not only for the round, but for the championship. McCathie would live to see another battle as Miller would be knocked out of contention and in the process, lose his third place in the championship to Patrick Barlee.
McCathie would have to battle another championship contender in the Top 12, Jason Ferron. Before the battle, McCathie would call for a 5-minute mechanical, allowing him to change his spark plugs. If he could win this battle, he would knock out Ferron and claim the championship, but if Ferron won, McCathie would have to sit on the sidelines hoping that Jason didn't progress much further.
The battle would be close, with plenty for the judges to look at it, but it would be Jason Ferron who would knockout Marcus McCathie. McCathie put up a solid fight, being paired up with three heavy hitters early on, but now all he could do was wait.
Jordan Sanderson would have engine issues on his Commodore Ute, having to swap ot the dark side, borrowing Jamie Stevkovski's AU Falcon. Sanderson would knock out Brendan 'Bogga' O'Grady in his first battle in the AU but would skate across the kerb in his Top 8 battle with Jackson Snell. The young John Hurst was putting up a stellar display all-night long in his LS1 powered V35 Skyline and would go up against Jason Ferron in the Top 8. With Jason winning and knocking out John Hurst, it would move him up into the Top 5, scoring enough points to now become the 2023 Battle Royale Champion.
Although the championship had been locked up, there was still plenty of close battles, with the fans getting their wish, wanting a 'One-More-Time' battle against Mike Lake and Adrian Punaro. The victory of what was probably the best battle of the night would go to Adrian Punaro. There has to be something said for both Mike Lake and Jamie Stevkovski, as they were the two highest placed drivers on the championship leaderboard without a podium. Meanwhile, the ticket to the Final Battle was being decided between Patrick Barlee and Cam Marton, with Marton once again winning and going straight to the final.
Unfortunately, Patrick Barlee broke a shaft in his Corvette, and his decision to not drive his brother's car meant he would finish fifth. On track, and although he had locked in the championship, Jason Ferron was still hanging onto the rear of every car he battled, first picking off Adrian Punaro and then Jackson Snell. The last time Jackson had competed in Victoria was I believe in 2020 at VicDrift, and he had done extremely well to finish in the Top 4, with no power steering in his Commodore too.
Just like Round 2, Ferron and Marton had met in the early battles, and would face off again in the final, this time though, it would now be a battle between the 2022 Battle Royale Champion and the new 2023 champ. Although we may have seen this before, motorsport is unpredictable when you least expect it. At the start of the final run of the third and final battle between the two, Cam Marton pulled his R33 sedan to a stop, with Jason Ferron following. The fuel pump on Cam's car had stopped working.
Cam Marton called a five-minute mechanical to solve the issue as many rallied around him. Although this isn't Formula Drift, Jason Ferron also called a five-minute mechanical to make sure there was enough time for the fuel pump to be wired back up again and that charge was being sent back to the fuel pump. The R33 fired up and we had ourselves one final run for the 2023 Battle Royale season.
And just like Round 2, Jason Ferron would take the victory, with Cam Marton settling for second once again. Jackson Snell says he "pulled off a Bradbury" as he claimed third in his Commodore, with Adrian Punaro finishing fourth. A special mention would go to John Hurst, taking home the Chris Dejager 'Thrash Kings' award.
Jason Ferron would claim the Round 4 win and the 2023 Battle Royale Championship with 376 points, followed by Marcus McCathie on 349 points, as Patrick Barlee jumped up to third with a total of 313 points. What a final round it was, and overall, an incredible season of drifting, all thanks to the team at Keep it Reet.