Quintin van Jaarsveld
Gavin Puren is basking in the fruits of his breakout year in the SupaDrift Series that saw him clinch his maiden championship podium following the sixth and final round at Carnival City on Saturday.
The Margate driver has been a revelation in the national drifting championship this year, rising up the ranks with newfound flair and confidence.
His evolution in the sideways science has seen Puren emerge from promising rookie to the upper echelons of the sport in just three years by landing the final step on the championship podium.
Jim McFarlane took the title, with Paulo Gouveia placing second in the six-round series.
With Oslo Beach star and 2016 champion Shane Gutzeit taking time away from the sport for most of the year, Puren took it upon himself to take over the baton and spearhead the South Coast and KwaZulu-Natal charge.
Missing the series opener at MonsterMob Raceway in Kimberley due to work commitments meant Puren had serious catching up to do.
His road to the championship podium started at home, where a fourth place at the picturesque Dezzi South Coast Raceway gave him the kick-start he needed.
Round Three took South Africa’s top drifters to Carnival City in Boksburg, where Puren’s push in his Toyota Soarer JZZ30 (with a 2JZ engine) was slowed down with a ninth-place, however, this only proved to be a minor speed bump.
A sensational second half to the series saw Puren secure three runner-up results, at the Aldo Scribante Race Circuit in Port Elizabeth, back in Oslo Beach and finally at Carnival City at the weekend, earning him third for the year and seeing him being crowned KwaZulu-Natal champion.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to finish on the podium. I didn’t think it was possible due to the fact that we missed Round One,” the 31-year-old told eHowzit.
“It feels like a dream come true to achieve a podium in the national series. To get top spot in KZN is awesome too. It’s always nice to compete in your home town as the support is amazing.
“My amazing crew from Puren Plant Hire kept the car running all season. We’ve put in a lot of time behind the scenes in suspension upgrades and making sure the car is reliable throughout the season. A big shout out to the legendary Steve Clark from No Sweat Racing for getting the car to perform like it does.
“I’d like to say a massive thanks to all my family and friends who always back me 100% in what I love. Thanks to my amazing sponsors – none of this would be possible without you: LIL Rich Transport, Tyre Mart Shelly Beach, Sun International/Wild Coast Sun, Vano’s BMW Parts Centre, Quattro, Power House Towing, East Coast Scratch and Dent, Durban Used Spares and Renegade Racing.
“I’d also like to send a big shout out to the guys from SupaDrift and XS Promotions who put the series together.”
Drifting is a family affair for the Purens, with dad Trevor and brother Brendan also shredding tires in the SupaDrift Series.
The brothers raced off-road bikes and dad Trevor did oval racing a few years ago before the drifting bug bit.
“We used to watch drifting at Dezzi Raceway a few years back and always wanted to try it, so we bought one car and everyone was hooked from there,” said Puren.
The trio now each have their own car – modified and detailed to suit their individual needs – which they load into an enclosed trailer and transport to and from events.
Puren laughingly admits there’s healthy competition among them.
“There’s always big competition between myself and my brother; we like to push each other to the limit.”
Looking back on the 2017 championship, Puren considers his second place at the Aldo Scribante Race Circuit as the highlight of his year.
“I’d say that was my best event; it was the first time driving the track and it was challenging, so it meant that I had to push myself harder than ever.”
Another highlight will close out his breakout year when he faces off with the world’s best gymkhana drivers, including the legendary Ken Block, in the first-ever Gymkhana GRiD on South African soil next month.
Puren earned the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when he secured a golden ticket during Monster Energy’s Drum Dash at the AutoStyle Motorshow at Dezzi Raceway recently.
“That’s another great achievement. To get to drive against Ken Block and the best in the world is going to be something different, but definitely one to check off my bucket list.”
Photos by Darren Townsley/SupaFly Media