British Drift Championship Round 1

2016 was the revolution, 2017 will be the start of the evolution in the BDC. With new rules designed to keep things moving, a couple of new locations including a street circuit and a final round with night fights this will be an exciting season.

Round 1 took us to one of the new locations for BDC, Rockingham Speedway. The event would use the outside paddock, the same area used by Drift Cup for the last two season but with the addition of David Egan’s signature concrete walls.

With the exception of Driftland the walls most drifters in the UK are used to running are either tyre walls or water filled plastic barriers. Giving them some large heavy blocks of concrete to scrape their asses along definatly changes the game, and after watching video after video of drifting in Japan at tracks like ebisu, it’s what the fans want to see as well.

With a host of new rules including a single OMT, drivers only allowed a single 5min rule which also gives them a points deduction, and no tyre changes during a battle things definatly run with a lot less down time. Anyone that watches live streams from other competions will notice a lot less time being bored when watching BDC this year.

One thing not changed is the timetable format. Pro AM qualifying and battles took place on the Saturday and PROs on the Sunday.

The level of driving is getting substantially better in both classes, and the feeder series DriftCup. Of the four PRO AM drivers who went through to Sundays Pro class, three finished in the top 16, Lee Barker took 3rd in PRO AM and went on to qualify 12th in Pros, second place Mike Walton qualified 8th in the Pro class and first place Oliver Evans took 4th Pro qualifying spot. The final driver to get a Pro slot Scott Cartledge coming a respectable 23rd.

To blur the lines between the classes further Walton went on to finish 10th in the Pro class, an amazing achievement for a Drift Cup driver. Oliver Evans then went a step further by continuing his amazing form from Saturday and went all the way to the Pro final battle.

When we saw the 370 a couple of weekends ago at Drift Matsuri it looked very naked with all the vinyls removed. Anyone that follows the team will have seen the videos and time lapse  of the car getting it’s 2017 sharpie design. For anyone wondering the car was given a clear coat once the work was finished which did apparently raise a few eyebows

Remembering these are drift cars a one off hand drawn design like this is always a brave move and the rear bumper got it’s first battle scar during practise on the Saturday as Shane appears to kiss the tyre wall. A bit of TLC in the pits that afternoon, and a couple of zipties, and you had to look very closely on Sunday to see the break.

After seeing it unveiled at Autosport in 2016 the 86 finally comes out to play at BDC with Paul Smith behind the wheel. 

Sunday timetable was practise, qualifying then battles, with the top 8 being seeded through to the last 16. During the breaks there would be a new drift games event, a meet the drivers autograph session and the top 16 parade.

It was good to see Ian ‘Bizz’ Philips back this year. A regular at my local track at Teesside Ian is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet and I missed carrying his bumper back off the track.

After the driving yesterday the PROs had a lot to live up to .

By the end of qualifying the top 4 were Si Perry, Matt Carter, Marc Huxley and Oliver Evans taking that forth spot. Tomás Kiely, Wes Keating, Martin Richards and Mike Walton took the other spots going straight through to the last 16.

By the end of the remaining battles the following drivers would go head to head in the top 16

 

Simon PerryvJulie Robinson
Conor ShanahanvMike Walton
Oliver EvansvRichard Grinrod
Jack ShanahanvTomás Kiely
Aurimas VaskelisvMatt Carter
Martin RichardsvJo Fletcher
Marc HuxleyvDanny Grundy
Matt StevensonvWes Keating

One of the additions this year is the ‘drift games’ with a different format at each round. For this round the drivers who entered had to try to do backwards entries which would be scored by the judges. it was just a bit of fun and to give the crowd and live stream viewers something different but imo it broke the flow of the day and didn’t really pull off the fun factor they were trying for.

The autograph session when down very well with the crowd and the tent was very busy with people getting teeshirts and posters signed. I got the feeling it was a little more popular than anticipated and there was already talk about changing the layout for round 2.

The parade lineup gives the fans a chance to see who qualified for the top 16 and who would be up against each other in the first battles. Each driver would also have a few words with David.

The first battle was old school Nissan v new school Nissan. I started following the BDC way back in 2010 and back then both drove Skylines. Over the years Si moved up to a r35, still a GTR but not a Skyline least not by name, while Julie has stuck with her trusty 32 more-door steed. Julie put in good runs, following the lines without making any mistakes, but Simon was out for blood this weekend rubbing the walls and with an eye well and truly on a top spot. Some great driving took Simon all the way to the last 4, knocking out Conor Shanahan in an epic battle 

Conor’s first battle was against Drift Cup driver Mike Walton. Mike put in a good show but couldn’t match Conor for pace 

After finishing 4th in qualifying and going straight through to the top 16 Oliver Evans first battle in PROs was against Richard Grinrod. In the first run Grinrod was chasing and made a big mistake in the first half of the course. He finished in style right on Evan’s door but it was the PRO AM driving going into the second run with the advantage. Evans started off the run sitting right on Grinrod’s bumper and the gap never really widened with him on Richard’s door the whole run. It was a easy decision for the judges and Evans progressed to the last 8.
Oliver Evans next opponent was 2016 champion Jack Shanahan. The first run was close but with Jack chasing he made some contact which effected Evans run. Again Evans went into his chase run with his front bumper touching the back of the lead car and again he never lost that proximity sitting right on the champions door. The judges give Evans the win 37-23

Jack’s previous battle was against fellow Irish youngster Tomás Kiely. After the first two runs the judges couldn’t separate them and the battle went to a OMT. Under the new rules for 2017 this would be a single battle with Tomás as the higher qualifying driver deciding who would lead and who would chase. After putting in an awesome chase run it was a surprise when he elected to lead, and with a very aggressive chase run it was Jack that went through to the last 8

Matt Carters first battle was against Latvian driver Aurimas Vaskelis. Matt put in a good first run as lead car finishing 21-9 and then in the second run Aurimas pulled up at the end of the first straight with car issues handing the win to Carter.
The other battle in this leg was between Lassa’s Jo Fletcher and Martin Richards. In the first run Jo was chasing but didn’t have the power to keep up with Richards, then in the second run Richards sat on Fletcher’s door the entire run and as they came through the final corner Fletcher appeared to miss fire and with the loss of power clipped the wall sending his back end spinning out towards Richards who somehow managed to avoid a huge crash. Again it was an easy decision for the judges putting Richards through to go up against Matt Carter for a place in the top 8. Both driver put in great runs with very little to separate them and it was close to a OMT but Matt took the win 31-29 and progressed to the last 4

 

The final leg of the 16 started with Huxley v Grundy. With Huxley leading in the first run he pulled a gap at the start but  Danny pulled it back in the middle section making it even going into the second run. Danny led the second run but totally missed the new chicane at the start line so the judges pulled both cars back for another try. This time Danny got the start right but couldn’t shake Hux who put in a text book chase run sticking to Danny’s door. Huxleys proximity put him through to the top 8. 
Hux would go up against the winner of Matt Stevenson v Wes keaton.  Matt chased in the first run and maked a couple of small errors but was also aggressive right on Wes’s door, and with Wes having a clean run they went into the second run all square. In the second run Matt was on the line missing clips with Wes close and following his line the judges decided that was nothing between them and it went to a OMT. With Matt leading he made a couple of small mistakes giving the win to Wes.
In the final run of the top 8 Wes had issues with the car early into his chase run against Hux losing power and driving the car back over the line he called it a day leaving Marc to more or less put in a demo run.

The first semi final was Simon Perry against PRO AM upstart Oliver Evans. In the first run Evans stuck to Simon with a text book chase run giving him the advantage going into the second run. Evans continued his amazing streak in his lead run and Perry was forced to make a few errors trying to stick with him.

Marc Huxley and Matt Carter made up the other semi final. The first run had Huxley chasing and he stuck to Matt through the the course giving him a 18-12 lead into the second run. The second run showed why Carter is called the doorhunter and he literally pushed Hux around the course touching wheels more than once and going through to the final 33-27 

Before the final Huxley and Perry had to battle it out for the 3rd spot on the podium. In car size at least this was a David v Goliath battle with the r35 dwarfing the little Celica. Both drivers put in great runs but the proximity in Huxley’s chase run give him the edge and the podium spot.

And this is what the weekend had built up to, the final between PRO veteran Matt Carter and PRO AM driver Oliver Evans. No matter what the outcome of this battle Ollie Evans had already written his own chapter this season with some amazing driving and by getting to the final against some of the biggest names in British drifting shown he’s a driver to watch.
21-9
Evans chased in the first run sticking to Carters door and showing he could be up there with the best chase drivers out there. Trailing 21-9 Matt had everything thing to do in the final run of the weekend. I had been saying since qualifying that I thought Carter had it this weekend but I’ll be honest after watching Ollie Evans I wasn’t so sure how this would go. The door hunter did what he does best and managed a little more aggression and proximity and took the top step in the first round of 2017.

 

hard charger – lee barker already left

team – shanahan

 

PRO AM driver Lee Barker took the hard charger award while Jack Shanahan picked up the trophy for Team Shanahan in the team competition 

And that as they say is a wrap for BDC round 1. The tag line for 2017 is Evolution and while David and his team can bring their ideas to take the competition to the next step everything still rides on the drivers stepping up as well and wow they did that this weekend. By taking the event onto a smaller technical track it allowed the drivers to show their skill this weekend with some of the best driving I’ve seen on UK soil. 
Congratulations to Matt Carter and Team Japspeed for the win this weekend.

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