The UK Drift Grand Slam was held at Birmingham Wheels over the 17th & 18th of July, it was an event with a difference!
Drifting in the UK has two sides, full blown competition and events like Driftland Bash where people go to have a laugh with mates. The UK Drift Grand Slam was both.
It had 20 hours of track time over two days, £1000 cash prize and tyre width restrictions to keep the battles close.
It was also relaxed enough that the drivers were all out there running their cars hard against the walls with huge grins across their faces.
We had plenty of time over the two days to chat to the drivers and everyone was raving about how much fun it was, the only complaint was that people wished they had more tyres as there was so much seat time.
The first day of the event was reserved for practice, 10 hours of it! Before that could start head judge, Luke Fink, took the drivers around the track explaining the lines and what he wanted to see from them.
The track layout made the most of the venue, using every inch of the track. It was essentially an oval with a cross over and a hairpin to finish.
Don’t let that fool you though, with 4 outer clips on the wall and 2 inner clips next to kerbs / grass banks, it wasn’t an easy track to master.
The layout rewarded the lead cars for their balls to the wall driving and allowed the chase cars to remain close throughout the run.
The drivers then headed out onto the track, there was some impressive driving from everyone there and many laughs between the drivers runs.
Robbie Yates managed to impress us early on, he was driving his E36 Touring hard but missing the outer clips, a quick demonstration by Luke Fink had that corrected. He went back out and nailed each clip straight away.
Martin Wonnacott was another driver that made everyone stand up and take notice, a clean fast line around the track put him out there as a strong contender.
Dan Firmager broke a shaft early in the practice session, a quick fix would get him back out onto track for a few hours, getting some great runs in his Volvo 340.
The second day started with a practice session so that the drivers that arrived overnight could learn the track, William Rose was on it right from his first run, getting close to the walls clearly wasn’t an issue for him, often tapping the rear quarters of his E36 Compact on the clipping points.
Qualifying was up next, two runs for each driver, these could take place at any time within their session. This gave the drivers a chance to practice or warm their tyres before declaring their runs.
It would be Dan Firmager at the top of the table with a run of 96.0, ahead of William Rose with 95.6 and Maciej Hawrysz with 94.3.
Onto the battles, the top 8 qualifiers would get by runs into the Top 16, everyone else would have to battle their way in. Some early exits included Danny Grundy after being beaten by Jonathan Jiggins, Mark Webb would be knocked out by Rich Newton.
The Top 16 featured some great battles, Dan Firmager would have a great battle with Jay White, unfortunately Jay plucked a tyre off the rim giving the win to Dan. This turned out to be an issue for many drivers as the battles advanced.
Robby Yates made a mistake and hit clip 2 spinning him out of his battle against Richard Grindrod.
In the Top 8 William Rose would take out Freddie Sharvell and his not so clean S13, this car turned up looking great and found most of the walls / banks around the track at some point.
Richard Grindrod would take the win over Martin Richards after his turbo failed.
Joining them in the Top 4 would be Dan Firmager and Leonard Kepert
William Rose knocked out Leonard Kepert after a great battle, both drivers pushing hard to get that spot in the final.
Richard Grindrod would take a wheel off the rim and get knocked out by Dan Firmager.
The Final was set, first we would run the 3rd place play-off, Leonard Kepert vs Richard Grindrod. Both drivers putting in good runs in both the lead and chase positions, Leonard would take the win though.
The Final battle saw Dan Firmager break another shaft on the first run, a 5 minute rule soon turned into as long as he needed after everyone including William Rose wanted a chance to see this battle.
Both of these guys are good mates and the sportsmanship shown by them was great to see, William could have taken an easy win but that’s not the way he wanted it.
On the second run William would hit clip one, shattering his rear light and slowing the car, Dan Firmager would spin out trying to avoid him. The judges would call a One More Time.
Both driver headed back out, putting in clean, fast laps with great proximity, William Rose would take the win after pulling a small gap during the last half of his lead run.
The podium celebration took place with Leonard Kepert in third, Dan Firmager in second and William Rose in first, taking home a trophy and £1000.
Robby Yates got the hard charger award and Leonard Kepert took the Spirit Of Drift award hom alongside his third place trophy. Freddy Sharvell was awarded the EP Racing style award, we are sure he will need their services soon after smashing up his bodykit.
Thanks to everyone that was involved with the event, we had a blast. Bring on the next one!