27-09-2017 – Laurie Southern
Practice Makes Perfect At The British Drift Championship
Drift  – Events

There’s one thing you can be sure about when the British Drift Championship circus rolls into town. You’re in for a great weekend. The fifth round would take place at Teesside Autodrome in the North East, and would not be one to miss.

Arriving early on I made my way through the paddock to have a quick look at the machinery that would be used in anger throughout the weekend. You always have an idea in your head about what to expect at an event like this. Needless to say those expectations were fulfilled. And then some.

Track activity started early. There’s no slacking, a quiet track serves the perfect opportunity for a shakedown. The first rubber of the day is laid down as clipping points are explored on the new layout.

Some teams used the relative ‘downtime’ to put final touches to their car…

…Others waited patiently until their time came. It was interesting to see the different approaches taken by various teams and drivers at the start of such a weekend.

As midday hit and first practice came to a close, the first paired runs of Pro Am qualifying began to take place. This stage of a Championship round is often just as exciting as the Top 32, as it’s the first opportunity drivers get to see what their car is capable of in relation to the competition. With all still to play for, every single driver gave 110% all afternoon. No half jobs here.

You have to admire the dedication from the fans too. A love affair with drifting is something even the late September weather couldn’t waver.

Teesside Autodrome is a Kart track throughout the year. This of course lends itself perfectly to a drift event, with a long sweeping outside bend followed by a tight and technical infield. Clipping points 1, 2 and 3 are situated in Turn 1, a huge big-angle left hander.

Drivers are then slowed considerably by the infield esses, with judges paying close attention to those all important transitions.

The variety of cars competing speaks volumes for the condition of British drifting. I won’t go into detail about the state of the sport over past years as that’s a discussion for another time. There are people out there who are far more qualified for that than me. What I will say however is that it’s currently in a rather healthy place. The sheer volume of fans following the series proves that; be it through merchandise, social media following or event turnout, the love for drifting is still going strong.  Things are ever growing and changing and currently they’re doing so for the better.

This can be seen in all aspects of a the BDC, right down to the attitude and commitment of the drivers. You’d be forgiven for assuming you were in the midst of the Top 16 runs despite the fact that what you’re really seeing is only qualifying.

Sometimes they’re a little too committed… That’ll need some cleaning up.

Shout out to the marshals on hand throughout the weekend putting things to rights in record time as always.

I must admit I was impressed by the turnout, too. With well over 30 cars in each of the two classes there wasn’t a single moment in the day without something exciting going sideways. All out to score points to secure that top spot.

Of course it wouldn’t be a high profile drift event without an appearance from Stockport’s own Drift Games driver Alex Law, would it?

These guys put a lot of effort into their cars. That’s obvious. What you fail to notice without actually being there is how well put together they are. We’re talking big money builds and rare parts often directly from the Holy Land. Most people would be worried about driving these cars on the road, let alone going sideways at stupid speeds door to door.

It goes without saying that there’s going to be considerably more Japanese metal in attendance than anything else. Representing the Bavarian corner and reminding us that other marques do exist was Ben’s immaculate Slide Motorsport E36 M3. I’ve a huge soft spot for a lairy BMW drifter. I know you do too.

With qualifying coming to a close during the latter stages of the day the rain began to set in. You can’t fault the creativity these guys showed to avoid sitting on wet grass. It’s a good job, too, as once it arrived it didn’t show any signs of stopping. Typical.

The final runs of the day came about with perfect timing as I made the schoolboy error of forgetting to charge my camera batteries the night before. Both of them. What can I say, I’m only human.

The beautiful aftermath of the day left me with a good feeling about the sport. Any doubts that it’s a dying spectacle disappeared and I was reminded that the love is still strong. People on the internet will forever throw around phrases like “It was better in my day” or “It’s not what it used to be”, and they are true to some extent. But change is good. The world of motorsport on the whole is moving in the right direction. It’s something I’m proud to be contributing to even if it is in a rather small way. I can’t wait to see what next year’s British Drift Championship holds. Let us know what you think!

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