Gymkhana GRiD 2018 smashes record as Saito and Kristoffersson win in South Africa
Nothing can prepare you for the pure assault on the senses that is Gymkhana GRiD in flat out competition mode.
What’s more, nowhere else in motorsport can you check out 1000+ bhp race machinery going head to head with private garage builds; and then see the resulting duels clock in split-second tie-break finishes.
When the smoke and dust eventually settled, two sets of podium finishers emerged, having burnt rubber, and claimed their place in the Gymkhana GRiD hall of fame.
Japanese drift legend Daigo Saito truly gave a new meaning to bossing-the-GRiD in his thundering 1000bhp Corvette. The 38-year-old racer consistently improved on his lap times with each outing, defeating local driver Rano Barnardt, and then Monster athletes Dmitriy Illyuk, Steve Baggsy Biagioni, and finally Jason Webb on route to podium glory.
The big shake-up in the Rear-Wheel Drive class came with Luke Woodham receiving a two second obstacle related penalty in his battle against Jason Webb, meaning the four-time GRiD champion was knocked out of the running for the win.
Daigo Saito - Image: Motorspor Fanatix / Raymond Cornwell
The shock result promoted Jason Webb to second, thanks also to his ultra precise runs in his chop-top Monstang, and then pushed Woodham to the final podium step - after he beat Steve Baggsy Biagioni in the 3rd and 4th place playoff.
In the All-Wheel Drive class, double FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson claimed a second consecutive GRiD title to wrap up a record-breaking season.
The Swedish ace faced tough competition from teammate Petter Solberg though, with the duo being separated by mere tenths of a second all weekend.
It was also a real Solberg family affair to complete the podium, with 17-year old Oliver Solberg claiming his slice of GRiD glory - piloting the Citroen Xsara that took Petter to the win at Gymkhana GRiD 2017 in Greece.
UK driver Jonathan Buck battled back from an oil fire during open practice, to best of the Pro-Am drivers by placing his fluro-yellow liveried Subaru Impreza in fourth. Bucky narrowly beat GRiD veteran Dmitrij Sribnyj by three tenths of a second in the process.
Johan Kristoffersson - Image: Motorspor Fanatix / Raymond Cornwell
The entire Gymkhana GRiD competition, which was hosted at Carnival City Johannesburg, was broadcast live and loud through a globally unlocked livestream. GRiD’s online program gave fans an all-access look into the paddock, the racing, the results.
All with exclusive insight from the commentary team led by the voice of drift Jarod DeAnda, Johannesburg’s Marius Roberts and roving reporter Colby James West.
Head Hoonigan in Charge, Ken Block, brought the noise in his 1400bhp For Mustang Hoonicorn RTR V2 and put on an epic show against Daigo Saito in the Smoke and Style competition final.
Block said: "I’ve loved driving again here in South Africa. During my last run in Smoke and Style I had flames and bits of tyre bouncing off my visor, and I just kept the throttle nailed.
"That’s what Gymkhana GRiD is all about. Daigo did an awesome job sliding his Corvette around the GRiD course all weekend; his driving was super clean and he really got the thing dialed; he thoroughly deserves the win.
Ken Block - Image: Motorspor Fanatix / Raymond Cornwell
"I’m stoked for Jason Webb too - that was a big shakeup to the expected result with him knocking out Luke Woodham during the semis. Again that’s what’s so great about this format; it’s about car control, you don't need the most horsepower to win at GRiD - one mistake and the result can go either way."
The final piece of big news to share is that for 2019 Gymkhana GRiD will be making a tyre-slaying tour de force back to Europe. Having torn up the tarmac in South Africa for two consecutive years, GRiD will be giving the European audiences a taste of the action as it returns to its European roots next season.
Daigo Saito, the winner in the Rear-Wheel Drive, was pleased with his result: "I wanted to come to Gymkhana GRiD to prove my speed, and also the speed of my Corvette, and I think I managed this.
Saito added: "My team and I were a little nervous as we had some technical concerns, but we had some great help from Jason Webb’s father - so a big thank-you to him, because without his local knowledge we probably wouldn’t have been able to continue.
"Overall I’m really happy to have won Gymkhana GRiD on my first try. It’s a very fun event, and I’ve very much enjoyed all the driving!
Jason Webb - Image: Motorspor Fanatix / Raymond Cornwell
Jason Webb placed second in the Rear-Wheel Drive.
"It’s actually unbelievable what has gone down today," said Webb. "Progressing through the battles I was looking at the names that I was racing against and it’s just awesome.
"Racing against Luke was super fun; it was a shame for him getting the penalty but I kept it super clean and will take the win for sure in that battle. A massive thank-you to everyone involved in GRiD, it has been fantastic!"
Full results from the Gymkhana GRiD 2018