I'm no stranger to the BDC (British Drift Championship), i worked for them for almost 3 years so i had a good understanding of how things worked but now i would be seeing things from a whole new perspective, as a driver!
With help from my sponsors RS Repairs, Mint Tyres Motorsport and Carbon Copy UK I've been able to get my Nissan S14 ready for BDC but not only that, I'm a strong believer that seat time is the key to being a good driver and so i visited Santa Pod, Norfolk Arena and Lydden Hill a few times earlier this year to practise in all conditions.
I arrived at Norfolk Arena on Thursday evening to be greeted by the awesomely dedicated Norfolk Drift Team who run all drift events at the stadium as well as sort out the rabble of BDC drivers at every round.
After a good nights kip i turned up to Norfolk Arena bright and early ready for signing on and the drivers briefing at 8:15am, I've been to a lot of drivers briefings over the last few years but this is the first one i actually really listened to!!!
Practise started and unfortunately i made an amateur mistake when setting my tyre pressures and ran the same pressures that i normally do... with part worns! I learnt very quickly that brand new Federal 595 EVO's are a fair bit more grippy than part worns!!
Unfortunately this meant that my first session of practise was pretty much a waste of time, nevertheless i still had the second practise session and so i raised the tyre pressures and set my rear coilovers a bit harder and all was good - it's all about the set up!
I managed to get about 8 laps in before it was time for qualifying, just enough time to get used to the track layout and surface.
Now, I'll be honest i had pretty massive butterflies in my stomach whilst queueing up for my judged runs but i got on the start line, gave Malx the thumbs up and went for it. At this point i must just say that Malx is the best start line marshall anyone could hope for and was probably the reason i didn't screw up my qualifying runs.
So, how did my qualifying runs go??? Pretty good!
I stuck to the rule of; Run 1, keep it safe, Run 2, go a bit harder, Run 3, go all out and it worked kind of! My first two runs were consistent, almost thought i was going to take a clipping point with me, so i guess i did pretty well on front clips! Run 3 i went as fast as i could and did a lame half spin but it's always worth the risk!
My first run scored 62 points, the second run was 59 and the third was 50. The 62 point run put me through into 15th place in the Semi Professional class of which i was over the moon with! I really wasn't expecting to qualify at all in my first competition.
On to the Saturday, we all got a well needed lie in! The wonderful thing about Norfolk Arena, we don't have time constraints which meant the event could run into the night. I had loads of fun in the practise sessions, learning to chase and keep up with the other drivers was great.
A quick briefing had the judges explain exactly what they were looking for in the twin battles, they wanted to see people taking the qualifying line, hitting the two rear clips and two front clips however the chase car line could be sacrificed if they were within 5 metres of the lead car.
So we all got lined up and organised by the wonderful Minnie of the Norfolk Drift Team, whilst we were waiting i met my opponent, Brian Egan from Team Dealtwidth and had a look around his impressive Toyota Corolla AE86 powered by a S2000 F20c engine!! At this point i was realising that i would have to drive as well as i possibly could to even keep up with him.
His car being approximately 270bhp and very light, whilst my lardy s14 is only running just above standard power (200bhp).
Check out his page on facebook for more info: Dealtwidth
Our practise run was pretty good, unfortunately on our first judged run with me following i tried just a little bit too hard to keep up, i went offline and onto the shale which then made me spin. At this point i knew he was definitely going to win but wanted to put a good run in anyway.
We returned to the start line, this time with me leading and we both put in a good solid run, couldn't help but giggle to myself going over the finish line as i could hear the F20c engine roaring behind me - I'm a sucker for a sweet sounding engine.
So, that was my first BDC competition experience over, i sat with friends and watched the rest of the Semi Pro, Pro and Super Pro battles with a smile on my face..... and that's what it's all about... having fun!
If you're not smiling then you're doing something wrong! :)
Images courtesy of Darren Thorndick, Blackett Photograhy, DJW Images, Jordan Butters, Laura Taylor, Chris Gooch, Matt Cross, Status Error and others