After a long cold winter, round 1 of the premier UK drift championship is always an exciting weekend but the last couple of seasons it’s been especially so with David Egan and his team shaking things up with new rules, a first-rate live stream and some changes to venues, all to make the events more exciting for spectators. This year the anticipation seems to be back to a more normal level with the buzz being redirected to the new Drift Masters championship in Europe, one which isn’t touching British shores, and I’m interested to see how the BDC team keep the memento going.
After forecasts of more snow it was almost a relief to see only rain…almost. The Saturday was one of the coldest days I’ve had at a drift event and the rain managed to mess with the live stream and the runs, to the extent that the top four had to be run on Sunday as they hit the cut off curfew time. In spite of the weather the Pro Am drivers stepped up their game, blurring the lines better the Pro and Pro Am classes
The podium finished 1st Lee Scott, 2nd Kristians Burkovs and 3rd Alistair Sutton.
The first round of the series often levels the field with new drivers coming in, new and rebuilt cars and some drivers being more mentally prepared than others. With both Shanahan brothers dropping out to concentrate on IDC and Drift Masters most people will be looking at the established drivers like last seasons champion Matt Carter. But the JapSpeed driver isn’t just running a new livery this year. The car has been stripped and rebuilt and by the end of the day I think Matt was pleased with his 4th place.
Along with Paul Smith, Matt has a new team member this year. Matthew Denham has joined the Japspeed team in a new rx8. The three drove well enough to win the team constructor’s cup.
As well as the Irish drivers there was also competition from further afield. We’re more used to seeing Sultan Al-Qassimi in has awesome carbon fibre dripping s15 but for this round he competed in an ae86 he bought while over here last year. Just to spice things up a bit this was the first time he had drove it and had it converted to LHD a week before the event. He still managed to put in some of the best driving I’ve seen from him. I’ll admit to not knowing a great deal about Latvian Drift4you driver Kristians Burkovs other than he seriously impressed with his driving on the Saturday coming second in Pro Am and then continued onto the Sunday getting a respectable 16th in the pro class. The final foreign driver I have to mention is Aurimas Vaškelis. Aurimas is one hell of a driver and I’m convinced if he hadn’t lost so many rounds last year due to broken props he could have been snapping at Carter’s heels for the championship. Unfortunately, he continued where he left off, going out due to a broken car which, in a Basil Fawlty moment, got a kick in the middle of the track.
I see dozens of mx5’s at drift days since ‘drift tax’ started making a lot of cars unaffordable to people starting off but nothing like the one belonging to Overboost Drift Team driver Christian Christensen. With a v8 heart producing over 1000bhp, in one of the lightest chassis in drifting, this thing is mental.
Drivers from closer to home who deserve a mention. People who know me know I don’t have much love for BMWs but then there are the cars Mike Marshall builds. With the wide rivetted arches and huge smoke clouds from it’s squatting rear end it’s hard not to love his latest car, and it helped him to 8th spot in the Pro class. Martin Richards r32 looked amazing and drove as well as it looks. Based on the weekend I’m expecting lots of podium shots of the grinning Driftworks driver in 2018. Oliver Evans, where to start…I’ve seen Ollie rise up the ranks the past couple of years here and over in Ireland and he’s an amazing driver, he just needs to take the occasional chill pill and he would be up in the top points bracket round after round.
With the Shannahans not competing I guess many UK fans would have been assuming Carter or one of the other English drivers would have an easy run to the title. Unfortunately, being an English fan myself, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Two of the drivers who made the short ferry ride over from Ireland made it crystal clear the UK won’t be getting all their own way this season. Kevin Quinn was possibly the driver to surprise a few people. I’ve seen Kevin drive over in Ireland so wasn’t really shocked when he finished 3rd beating Matt Carter in the 3rd place battle. As already mentioned Martin Richards was on fire all weekend and would have had the top step if it wasn’t for Irishman Duane McKeever. The two time IDC winner can beat any driver in the world on his day and to be honest he made it look easy this weekend. What should be really worrying for the rest of the pack is that he did it with a broken gearbox. Initially, I heard he had to start in 2nd, no real issue for these cars tbf, but what I understand now is that he ONLY had 2nd gear, and still beat some of the best drivers around. Could we end up with a single driver taking the IDC and BDC titles this year? There is a long way to go but if you can find a bookie to take the bet it is definitely worth a couple of quid
A few random thoughts to finish with…Even with the poor weather on Saturday this was a great opening round to 2018, with record crowd and live steam figures, a live stream with more professional graphics making it easier for the fans to see the results. There is a new track for 2018, the small but very technical Three Sisters in Wigan, which should really mix things up. The BDC has less downtime than any other drift event I’ve seen, just compare it to the opening FD live stream where half the show felt like the camera was pointed at palm trees or buildings