A new year, new cars, new drivers and new organisers running the British Drift Championship in the way of Brian Egan and his team from IDC. With this they bring us, the drivers new challenges in a bid to push the BDC higher and further within the sport. For me the off season required a new engine as my old one failed at its final outing of last year, the guys at GBH Motorsport have built a forged 1JZ coupled with a BMW e46 M3 gearbox. This means a power improvement from 347bhp to 632bhp and with the BMW gearbox shifting gears should be easier to.
So, onto round 1 and what would be my first drive since October last year and with nearly 300 more horsepower. The Friday was Pro-Am competition day but Pros had a half hour practice and for me this was to bed myself back in and give the car a shakedown before the main event on Saturday. This practice session was dry and I only managed 3 runs but this was enough for me to feel the difference in power over what I had been use to for the previous couple of seasons and when the car comes on boost it’s like someone giving you a shove in the back. The car ran faultlessly with no dramas or issues to worry about overnight.
After a chilled Friday evening we woke up Saturday and the weather had changed from warm and sunny to cold, gloomy and wet which wasn’t ideal as I was still getting use to the car. Before being allowed onto the track we had the drivers briefing with the judges telling what line they wanted to see and all the regular stuff. One thing that was different to previous seasons was that the initiation was open and the driver could decide how he wanted to initiate. This meant that there would be a variety of different things tried by the drivers.
Once the briefing was over we had 3 hours of practice time to get use to the tricky wet conditions, try out which initiation works best and looks the coolest. There was enough rain falling that it created a river running across the track on entry to the first corner, this would catch quite a few out and would end up with them visiting the gravel trap. My first few runs were for me to get use to the car in the wet, once I was happy I concentrated on my initiations and tried different things which ended up with me choosing a clutch kick weight transfer method.
The rest of the session was spent getting the right line and hitting all the clipping points. At the end of the session we roll straight into qualifying, the rain still falling and it seems the few minutes getting the cars in order was enough time for the water to gather again at turn 1 and this was catching people out, myself included. With no practice run it’s straight into the first of 2 judged runs, I threw it in as I had been in practice but the grip just wasn’t there and I had a half spin, no points scored.
This meant the pressure was on to get a score on the board after my second run, whilst waiting for my run I was thinking do I play a little safe to get a score or do I risk another zero. I decided the later and just went for it, this time it stuck and I was able to get a score which put me 14th and in the main show. I was well happy with this result considering I hadn’t driven for so long and the first time I’d driven the car with totally different characteristics to when I last drove it.
This year the format for the battles has changed and for this round the top 24 qualifiers go through to battles. The top 8 in qualifying automatically go through to top 16 and the rest have to do a sudden death battle with the winner of each battle completing the top 16 line-up. My sudden death battle was against Jordan Patton in his R34 Skyline and again no practice run so straight into battle and although still slippy, the track seemed to offer a little more grip than in qualifying.
I led first and felt it was a good run and then during the chase run I made a little mistake but I had done enough to win sudden death and make it into the top 16.
My first top 16 battle was against Phil Morrison in his mighty AE86 and he had been on form all day pulling off backwards entries. Phil led the first run and went big on initiation but then the car straighten and he had to re-initiate only to have a spin on the next corner, an uncharacteristic mistake for Phil. Sat on the start line waiting for the second run but Phil heads back to the pits on a 5 minute rule as the car was clearly having some issues. Phil was unable to fix his car which gave me the win and into top 8 but would of rather won or lost on the track.
My top 8 battle would be against Simon Perry in his R35 GTR, I would be chase car for the first run and into the second corner I made a mistake which caused me to straighten and hand a big advantage to Simon.
For the second run all I could do was drive my line and hope Simon made a mistake but he’s been around long enough that it very rarely happens. That’s where my day comes to an end but I am so happy how the car performed straight out the box, couldn’t have asked for anything better.
I have to say a massive thanks to GBH Motorsport for all their work over the winter, building a new fresh engine and even with a last minute rebuild due to a failed piston. Without these guys I wouldn’t be out competing this year. I would like to thank my other sponsors for sticking with me for another season of drifting and hope I can do them all proud, these are; Landsail Tyres, Huxley Motorsport, EverythingDrift, Goodridge hoses, Pipercross, Wolfbitz.