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Event

British Rallycross Championship Round 6 – Lydden Hill

14th September 2017 — by Steve White

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Last year was a record breaking year for the British Rallycross Championship, with Dan Rooke becoming the youngest driver in the history of the Championship to secure the Supercar title.

Although Rooke has moved to the World Rallycross Championship this year, 2017 has seen a continuation of the youth versus experience theme, with several young guns vying for class titles.

Supercar rookie Nathan Heathcote picked up the mantle from Dan Rooke, taking first blood with a win at the opening round in Croft. The old guard struck back at round two though, with Ollie O’Donovan snatching victory from Warren Scott. Zero points for Heathcote saw him relinquish his early Championship lead and the upstarts had seemingly been put back in their place.

Following a shaky start to the season, Julian Godfrey hit full stride at Pembrey, where he took the first of what would be a hat trick of wins. Godfrey’s two victories at the double header in Mondello Park saw him ascend to the top of the Championship standings.

Trailing just behind Julian, Oliver Bennett arrived at Lydden with just a handful of points separating him from the Championship lead. Despite not winning a race this year, a remarkably consistent performance from Bennett has seen him place on the podium in all but one round.

The threat to the experienced rallycross drivers hasn’t just coming from the youngsters. Former-BTCC driver and Team BMR owner Warren Scott is another newcomer to rallycross and, despite his tarmac racing background, Scott has been quick to adapt to mixed surface racing.

With the third LD Motorsport Citroen DS3 now back in the UK, Warren Scott took the helm of the ex-Liam Doran car. Notably the LD Motorsport team look to be continually refining their fleet of DS3’s, as the list of cosmetic dissimilarities between the cars continues to shrink.

The youth challenge hasn’t been restricted to the Supercar category either. 2016 Super National Champion Tony Lynch made a slow start to his title defense, a situation which Paige Bellerby capitalized on with first place finishes in the opening three rounds.

Paige seemed to have many short bursts of speed in 2016 but, for every second gained on the straights, Bellerby looked to be losing time as she fought to keep the Exige pointing in the right direction. With better control of the little Lotus, Paige looks a lot more consistent in 2017 and the multiple victories are a reflection of that.

When it comes to single lap pace though, Tristan Ovenden has unquestionably been the Super National driver to beat in 2017. Unfortunately the ex-James Bird Clio V6 has been struck by an assortment of mechanical issues, and Ovenden has been forced to retire on several occasions.

There would be no problems for Tristan at Lydden, with Ovenden romping to overall victory. Tony Lynch finished second while current Championship leader Paige Bellerby took third. Paige still retains the points lead but, if the Clio stays reliable, Bellerby is going to have a real fight holding off Ovenden.

As great as it is to see new names in the Championship, it was also pleasing to see the return of some old faces to the entry list. John Cross has returned to rallycross and he was joined in the Super National category by Bruce Bamber, running a Honda Civic in his distinctive light blue colour scheme.

In the Suzuki Swift Championship the early signs were that the title would go the way of Simon Ovenden. Rob Shield began a fight back with two wins at the double header event in Mondello Park and he continued to pile the pressure on Ovenden at Lydden.

Winning two of the heats, Rob Shield went on to win his semi-final and the final. Losing second position to Morgan Bailey, Simon Ovenden had to settle for third and, as a consequence, his Championship lead has now fallen to just two points.

In the Junior Swift Championship, it seems that no is able to stop Tom Llewellin. Ole Henry Steinsholt has been the only other driver to claim a victory in the class this year and, with Steinsholt slowed by a technical problem, Llewellin took his fifth win of the year at Lydden.

Although it is still mathematically possible for Tom Constantine to win the Junior title, Tom Llewellin would have to have an awful lot of bad luck at rounds 7 and 8 to lose it now!

I have previously praised the idea to combine the Super 1600, BMW MINI and Hot Hatch grids, as it has resulted in some excellent inter-class racing. I used to find the separate races for these classes some of the least enjoyable at a British Rallycross Championship round, but the changes have really renewed my interest in these categories.

With increased numbers in all three classes at Lydden, there seemed to be even more mixed battles throughout the field during the heat races.

One of the drivers bolstering the Super 1600 entry was Jack Thorne. Following several outings in a Supercar last year (which can currently be snapped up if you have a spare £88,000), Thorne has bought his Championship winning Citroen C2 out of retirement.

It seemed that Jack hadn’t forgotten how to drive the C2, as he posted fastest time in the third heat and placed second overall in the intermediate standings. Unfortunately Thorne’s Super 1600 comeback came to an end at the semi-final stage, with Jack failing to finish the race. It was a real shame for Thorne, but if he runs the C2 again this year I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t claim a podium spot.

Placing third in the intermediate standings, I’m not sure if Darren Scott was holding something in reserve or slowly building his speed up throughout the day but, irrespective, Darren posted the fastest lap time in his semi-final and the final.

Scott won the final with a comfortable four second gap to Paul Coney, while Phil Chicken took third. This was the first final that Paul Coney had lost this year, but he still retains a comfortable lead in the Super 1600 Championship.

The Retro Rallycross Championship has seen fluctuating numbers throughout its short history, with the level of participation of some cars very erratic. The entry at Lydden was the best I can recall seeing for some time as the numbers were swelled by an assortment of Mk.1 and Mk.2 Ford Escorts rally cars.

With an entry comprised entirely of two-wheel drive cars there was some close pack racing for first, plus a lot of scrapping behind the lead pack.

Fending off the horde of Escort drivers as well as the Retro regulars, Barry Stewart took the win ahead of Kevin Feeney. Spectators are used to seeing Feeney in an RX150, but he seemed a dab hand behind the wheel of a Mk. 2 Escort, so I am sure this won’t be his last Retro Rallycross appearance.

Given the ever-increasing level of competition in rallycross, many of the Supercar teams are very reluctant to allow cameras anywhere near the engine bay of their cars. That said, if I see bonnet up I always ask if it’s OK to take a quick snap and I was rather surprised when the chaps at XITE Racing said yes.

I find the technology – especially under the bonnet – behind modern rally and rallycross cars absolutely fascinating. Given the specification and capability of rallycross engines I have long been puzzled as to why more people (especially those interested in tuning) aren’t paying them  more attention.

Compared to previous seasons, 2017 isn’t the most dominant we have seen from Chrissy Palmer in the RX150 buggies. John Ward denied Palmer victory at round 2 and Marc Scott took first place at round 4. Three victories was still enough to secure the Championship lead and with Palmer making it four at Lydden, his lead has been stretched further.

It has been some time since we have seen Steve Hill standing on the podium and, although he hasn’t finished inside the top five this year, it does look like he is at least managing to get some consistency out of his Mitsubishi Evo X.

After qualifying fifth overall, Hill finished fourth in the first Supercar semi-final and looked on course to at least challenge his best placing of the season. Unfortunately Steve was unable to start the final and so relinquished his grid slot to a rather fortunate Ollie O’Donovan. One of the pre-event favourites, a puncture in the semi-final had put Ollie outside of a final position.

Alas O’Donovan was to suffer exactly the same fate in the final, with a front left puncture putting paid to any hopes he had of repeating his round two win O’Donovan continued to limp around the circuit on the rim, but as he slipped down the order the Championship point deficit between himself and the leaders grew.

With wins in qualifying two and three, Warren Scott won the second Supercar semi-final and claimed pole position for the final. Although Scott was beaten to the first corner by his LD Motorsport team mate Nathan Heathcote, Warren only had to wait a lap for Nathan to leave a DS3-sized gap to squeeze through and take the lead.

After being denied his maiden victory at Lydden earlier in the year and with such a strong performance throughout the day, I thought Warren was a deserving winner. Heathcote managed to hold on to second, while Oliver Bennett took the third step of the podium. With Julian Godfrey finishing in fourth, the Championship standings have really closed up and Godfrey and Bennett are now separated by just a single point.

Following the internet furore surrounding the World Rallycross Championship move from Lydden, it was superb to see so much support for the circuit and such great attendance for the National Championship.

I hope the two remaining rounds of the Championship are as well attended as, with several Championship title winners impossible to call, there is sure to be some good racing!

 

Words & Pictures: Steve White

Want to see more of the British Rallycross Championship at Lydden Hill? Click here for a full image gallery.

EventReviewsTopic

Night Sessions

13th September 2017 — by Dave Cox

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Welcome to Night Sessions!

Largely unplanned and often last minute, Night Sessions is a place for small, opportunistic features that take place once the sun goes down. Treat it like automotive postcards. You won’t find any detailed descriptions, just a few headline facts and a few pictures.

Paul Beechey starts us off with our first Night Session with his stroked SR22 powered S14a. With 520bhp and aggressive Wisefab steering kit it’s intended use of a drift car is pretty evident.  I was visiting family down on the South East coast of Kent when I found myself with a spare hour in the evening. A quick message and before long, the unmistakable SR bark could be heard outside my front door.

Grabbing my camera gear I ran out the door and slotted myself into the bucket seats. As Paul demonstrated how the turbo spools up just after 3000rpm I tried my best to navigate to a quiet industrial estate where we set up to grab some quick pictures. Satisfied with what I had shot, we headed back so Paul could get back to his family and I could get back to my beer.

 

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (SHOOTINGDAVE)
Instagram: @ShootingDave

Reviews

Ryan’s Red Rocket

18th August 2017 — by Dave Cox

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At car shows like Players Classic, there is a wealth of high quality builds. Picking a personal favourite is hard enough. I didn’t ENVY the task to be taken on by the judges.

However, as I was meandering around I came across Ryan’s Red Rocket. A red s13 that really caught my eye. It’s low ride height, aggressive wheels and smooth body work resonated with me.

I started making up some assumptions about the car as circled it. It wasn’t a drift car, definitely not built for time attack. And if I am being honest here, not a show pony either. All of this was fine in my eyes. Someone had just built this to have fun with.

I liked the idea of just having a car to be a fun car. Not something to smash up drifting or constantly stress about racing. Ultimately, something I would like to achieve myself one day.

I caught up with Ryan over instagram (ah, the wonders of social media) to find out a little more about the car. It turns out this is exactly why he built the car.

With the help of his friends he added fibreglass over-fenders and wings and set about painting the car Dr. Pepper red. It’s this colour that caught my eye when walking past. Not usually being a fan of red cars, this paint certainly set off the look.

A SpecR SR20DET was swapped in and a full stainless steel exhaust added. So it should have some go and sound nice! It was the wheels that stood out, not the usual choice but they look pretty aggressive. They are 17inch Extreme Offset Wheels.

They didn’t come in s13 PCD so Ryan re-drilled them. The manufacturer then saw the result and has since started making them. Ride height has been addressed with HSD Dualtech coilovers.

The gold bolts on the wheels really help draw your attention to them. It’s the small little details like this that I like.

Projects like this have a certain attainable feeling about them. They aren’t massive budget, they can still be used on the road and more importantly you are building memories. This was built on driveways by Ryan with help from his friends. I am envious of that D.I.Y. mentality.

One day I will get round to doing it myself. One day.

Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (SHOOTING DAVE)
Instagram: @ShootingDave

 

Event

Street Track Life 2 – Drive Harder

16th August 2017 — by Connor Mathieson

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Street Track Life is the full on Japan themed event that brings the best of the best from around the UK to Driftland to perform savage stunts and have an epic load of fun.

This year STL was attended by a few youtubers. Toby (Monkey London) was at last years STL in his missile Soarer. This time he brought his monstrous D1SL S15 which unfortunately caught fire after his first session. From what I hear, this isn’t the first time it’s caught fire either. A massive shame as from his one session he was doing big pulls down the wall and by god can that car move. Easily on par with full on BDC/IDC competition spec drift cars. Something you might expect from an ex D1SL car.

Adam Ivell (6TWO1) came up in his nice S15 as well. Really enjoying the colour of his car, it’s a fairly different colour to what you typically see in drift cars.

Lastly Chris (ChrisDrift) brought his awesome GT86, my first time seeing one drift in person and I must say it’s such a cool sounding car! Think of a slightly quieter Subaru Impreza smashing limiter and there you have it. One of my favourite cars of the event to watch getting thrown around.

The variety of cars at STL is what really makes the event so great. One minute you can have 3-4 MX5’s running together, 15 minutes later they are back out chasing down cars with double their power and grip.

On the 2nd day the AE86’s were out. Still to this day there is nothing that makes me as excited as when there is 2 or more 86’s on track screaming their heads off. For STL there was a total of 5, 4 from Ireland and Mr Finalboss in one of his 86’s.

Dan Joyce was chasing down Danny Whyman in what must have been the 2nd or 3rd session of the event. This kind of driving right off the start is what makes the event so fun to shoot and I imagine to spectate. From the word go you have people pushing their cars and running together with other people. This does of course come down to either bravery or just full trust in the person your following. Though I guess if you have no trust in someone your following, why follow at all.

This is my 2nd time seeing the Stylecase guys out on track and its so good to watch them. It immediately obvious that these guys are friends and drift together a lot. Evident from their constant close proximity driving with one another.

Dan from Destroy or Die and Goodboi Style Freddie were showing of their sick new team livery. I’ve always been a fan of livery’s on drift cars but only a certain style per say. This style is the one I think is most noticeable as a Japanese style livery. Flat colour cars with chrome vinyl. It’s Always been something i’d picture when thinking back to older Japanese drifting and its awesome to see it traverse over the sea’s and be well done at that.

Low Origins Alex and Dan were putting down some really nice runs on the first day, it’s a shame Alex had issues with the car and didn’t end up driving on the 2nd day. I’m fairly sure every time these guys have came up one of them has had massively bad luck with their cars and only gotten a short amount of seat time.

The Launder’s were out in their awesome Type X S13’s. I believe Kane in the red S13 was having issue with the car earlier in the first day of STL so it was nice to see them both out on track together.

Steve Saunders has always been someone fun to watch. The thing that always gets me going with Steve is his entries. Coming down the wall he enters 3-4 car lengths further back than anyone else and carries a huge drift from the back end of the wall all the way through the next corner, it’s really something to behold.

In this photo hes already on the wall and been on drift for a few seconds where Dan’s only just started his drift. It might not seem like a significant thing to mention but when you stand and watch him do it for 5 minutes straight, it just oozes massive amounts of aggression.

Will Crashcroft brought his little MX5 up for STL, had been looking forward to seeing Will do some stunts and have a few crashes and he didn’t disappoint.

I was standing watching him over the course of about 10 minutes get progressively closer to wall and had a pretty good feeling he was about to make contact.

he did make contact. Throwing the front of the car into the wall and running straight into the gravel. Surprisingly the damage was fairly light, a dented rear quarter that Freddie the wizard sorted in no time and a small dent to the front of the car.

Here’s a little GIF of the crash!

A huge part of STL that makes it so enjoyable as an event is the general atmosphere. Whenever you come of track for a bit you end up spending half an hour walking around talking to everyone having a laugh.

It’s actually one of the more enjoyable aspects of the event as a whole, the driving part is great but the atmosphere you get walking around the pits hanging out with everyone just has a nice chill vibe to it that I think in some sense should be what sums up drifting in general, in terms of non competition events at least.

Although the guys at GarageFuckHouse have been doing an amazing job of providing a similar vibe to STL in a competition aspect.

STL 2 was a great event, chill vibes and some sick driving for the 2 days. It’s one of those event where if you like nicely styled Japanese drift cars running in trains of 3+ cars, it’s certainly the event that needs to be on your calendar for next year.

Photos and words by Connor Mathieson

 

 

Reviews

Boost Is King at Gatebil

8th August 2017 — by Dave Cox

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During my last blog post, I mentioned that above all, Boost Is King at Gatebil.

Walking around the paddock will quell any naysayers. Everywhere you look, the all too familiar chrome snail can be found making elbow room inside engine bays.