I’ll just come right out and say it: The British Drift Championship is back.
Believe when I say that I didn’t expect to write that. At first I thought it was a combination of enthusiasm and sun stroke but the more I think back, the more I am happy to cement my opening statement.
A lot of this success can be attributed to Dave Egan’s overhaul of the rules and refresh to the image of the British Drift Championship. A lot has changed and I’m happy to report, it’s looking good. Most areas are a raging success and some need more time to refine.
I for one had steered clear of this particular series for the last two years, not out of spite but because it was struggling to keep up with events around the world. It was on to a good thing but then it stagnated. Evolution is vital to survival and what Dave and the team brought was a Revolution.
Ok so it hasn’t instantly changed overnight into a tier one sport like Formula 1 but it has changed A LOT! It feels more alive, there is more energy and excitement. The grandstand was loud and enthused, there was livestream and big screens. That last epic run was replayed instantly from multiple angles. I even caught Marshalls and photographers, myself included, moving to get a better view of the screen. People cared.
It is hard to put your finger on it but there was a genuine atmosphere in the air. The paddocks were buzzing, there was tension on the track and anticipation in the crowd. And that is what was missing in years passed. This new format was it’s own hype generator. And it was backed up by frankly amazing levels of commitment from the drivers.
Most, if not all had spent the off seasons working away building and finishing their cars. And somehow, during all that work and effort, they also found a fuck tonne of talent!
Pro-AM seemed to surpass their own classification with Oliver Evans being promoted for this round to Pro class and taking 2nd on the podium!
Marc Huxley with arguably the smallest car on track was really showing that he had big levels of commitment and showmanship. It was a pleasure to watch.
Rule changes; a new starting grid layout, cars lined up in single file, lead car having to navigate a slalom whilst the chase car is free to boot it. That worked really well, no false starts, no time wasted.
Contact; cars are allowed to make light contact now. This meant no more backing off for fear of being penalised. Also means super close driving and fantastic battles. That’s what drifting needs!
Sudden death; probably not the official name but I’m going with it. If after the two runs the judges scores were tied, normally the drivers would go again for another two runs. Not now, it’s just one run. Who goes first, well that’s up to the higher qualifying result. This really cut a chunk of time out of proceedings and also added a new sense of tension.
The dreaded 5 minute rule also underwent some scrutiny for 2017 too. Nothing was more frustrating than awaiting a run to start and then a five minute rule being called. The general feeling is that if your can’t run for more than 2 minutes, it shouldn’t be here. Of course it is impossible to rule out mechanical failure hence the revision the rule. Each driver is allowed one five minute rule per event, however if they use that rule, they will be deducted one championship point. The five minute rule can only be applied once the battle is live, i.e. once they pass the start line. If they need to use the rule before they start, they shall forfeit the round.
Round 1’s Drift Games was the backwards entry contest. The idea of this is to add some entertainment on top of the main competition. For me it was more miss than hit, not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I just felt like it interrupted the flow of the day. And that is OK, you have to try new things. I suppose under normal circumstances you could call it a success but the competition was hotting up so much that it kind of…got in the way.
I will argue that this is the best the British Drift Championship has been. I hope that Dave and the team can hold on to this momentum and keep it going for the rest of the season. It is so nice to have a series on home soil to be excited about. What will the future rounds hold? I don’t know but I can’t wait to find out.
Words & Pictures: Dave Cox (ShootingDave)