Rich is one of the FlatOut Factory drivers that we will be following this year, in his words this is his experience of Knochill & Round 2 of the British Drift Championship.
Well, even though I’ve been up to Knockhill with the British Drift Championship many times before, I’ve never actually drifted ‘The Hill’. As some of you may know, I’ve been working as a judge with the BDC for a fair few years, mainly due to my left leg injury, which was finally rectified in Nov 2012 by having an above knee amputation.
Now a couple of years on, and having got used to my missing bit, I’ve decided that I should be back out competing rather than judging, so 2015 will be my come back.
My partner and I set off from Epsom, Surrey very early on the Friday morning, having had a rather late night at the unit putting the finishing touches to the Flatout Factory Toyota Soarer, ready for BDC Round Two.
We eventually arrived at Knockhill Circuit about 12hrs later, where having been greeted by the friendly BDC staff, we were then pointed in the direction of our pit area, which was to be our base for the weekend shared with Kyle Chisholm of Chizfab, Fraser Stark and William Rose of Garage Fuck House, and also the main man of Driftland, Jeek Federico.
Weather was as per usual at Knockhill, a bit cold, a bit windy, a bit sunny, a bit cloudy, kind of all at once.
We arrived at the circuit at 7am on the Saturday morning to do the final checks on the car, then onto the drivers briefing at 8am, where the judges explained what they would be looking for along the challenging lines they had set for the weekend, designed to test the drivers to their max, and Mark Buckle (main man at BDC) covered all the safety issues.
At 9am, the track opened for 2.5hrs of open practice, the track was dry, so entry speeds were 90+mph over a blind right crest. This being my first time over The Hill, it was a little daunting. After the sighting lap and a few pretty poor efforts, I started to get the swing of things. I had about 12 practice laps – I was happy with two of them!! I just hoped I could pull a decent qualifying lap out the hat!!!!
After a 45 minute break, of which the last 15 mins it had started to spit with fine rain, making the qualifying line extremely slippery. As I was watching the BDC live stream in my car whilst waiting for my laps to start, I was watching lots of spins and poor laps, as much as I felt sorry for the drivers, I started planning my attack!
My first lap, I decided to go for it, as soon as I flicked the car in, I knew I wasn’t going to make the first clipping point, let alone the entrance of the corner, so, I ended up backwards in the kitty litter….. ZERO!!!
My second lap, I’d had a few mins to compose myself, so I went in a little slower, initiated a little sooner and bar from a small error on the second clip, I strung a safe lap together, which was good enough to qualify in 21st place. I wasn’t surprised at my placing, I knew I could have done a lot better.
Into the Top 32, the track was still very slippery, more so on entry of the first corner and the last corner. I was drawn against a good friend, James Matthewson. We’d had a fair bit of practice driving together only a few weeks previous. James is a very competent driver, in an awesome BMW E36 Tourer running a Toyota 2JZ motor. As he qualified higher than me, he led the first battle. I knew he was slower than me, so I gave him a couple of car lengths on entry. By the time we’d gotten to the bottom of the hill, I had closed right onto him. At the last corner we were completely side by side.
For the second battle, I led. We both had a decent run but, as in the first, I was faster and pulled ahead and gaining the advantage and putting me through to the top 16 where I’d be against Irish driver, Keith ‘Bart’ O’Shea.
I took the lead into the first battle. I had a good entry into the first right hander, worthy transition down the hill and as I lined up for the last corner I had a sneaky look to see where Bart was and spied him in the kitty litter at the bottom of the hill – great for me, not so for him!! The chase battle I kept a safe distance and as long as I didn’t make a silly error, I would be in the top 8 – thankfully I didn’t screw up
Top 8, it was always going to be a toughy! I was against Mr IDC (Irish Drift Championship) David Egan, in his 370bhp Mcnamara Motorsport SR20 powered Toyota AE86. He led the first battle, and to my shock I stayed with him, right up to the finish line. Then onto my lead battle – I knew I’d have to go flat out to get a chance of pulling away from him! I had a great entry into the first corner, fab transition down the hill, reasonable transition into the last corner, but I knew I was going in far too fast to make the final turn which ended up with me parking my Soarer up in the gravel just in time to watch David drift past to take the win. My Knockhill conquest was over – but boy was it a blast!!
I’d like to thank all my sponsors…
Flatout Factory (www.flatoutfactory.com)
Drift Facrory (www.driftfactory.co.uk)
EP Racing (www.epracing.com)
Tuna Garage (www.tunagarage.com)
Merit Tyres (www.merittyre.co.uk)
Media partners – Everythingdrift.com
Also without the continual support from my partner Ellie; and my good mates Tom Hutchison and Craig Davenport, I’d not be where I am now.
Come and see me at Flatout Factory, BDC rounds and the Drift Outlaws series.
Rich ‘Chunk’ Newton