After missing the first round of the Scottish Drift Championship, I was quite eager to get back into it and look at the progress since last year. Once again I’m fairly shocked by the driver level this year.
Many people that competed in previous years are getting seriously consistent and with having so much practice days at Driftland to attend, their proximity in chase driving has gotten insanely good. This change in consistency showed through with there being not one single incident, Be that contact/crash or just someone running off track and getting stuck until the small pile up that occurred in the trains just before the top 4
So that’s an entire day of drifting being completely ahead of schedule and it comes down to that consistency. Even in practice, people are getting close to one another. In previous years, practice was where people would leave gaps to each other and essentially do solo runs. Now however its actually interesting to watch.
They have a new system for practice and qualifying as well now. I’m not entirely sure if they ran it like this at Round 1 as well, but it goes like this: Practice and qualifying is joint. There are 2 queues, The first queue is for practice. You line up with someone and either do a run with someone or you can go alone if you want. The second queue is for qualifying, So if after 3-4 practice runs you’re feeling confident, you can go attempt a qualifying run.
There are 2 groups for the Practice/Qualifying session, each having around an hour and a half. That’s basically an hour and a half to get some battle practice and complete your 2 Qualifying runs. It actually works out really well. It seems to run a lot smoother than a regular competition event that splits practice and qualifying into separate instances.
Qualifying was over really fast with this new system, not that it’s a bad thing. The day did seem to go fairly quick as a whole though.
Qualifying in First place was Mark Gemmell in the V8 350z. Mark being a BDC driver, it’s no surprise he was right up top.
Coming in for 2nd place would be Jack Symes, Yet another BDC driver although Jack hasn’t competed in quite a while But his V8 E30 still rips pretty hard!
3rd place was reserved for Kev Kay in the monstrous little M3 Compact.
There was a lot of high calibre Names in the top 10 for Qualifying as well as some more unknown names to competition. From Driftland Regulars to BDC and Driftcup drivers. There was a huge amount of talented drivers all over the qualifying bracket.
Straight into battles and it was clear to see that it was going to be quite an exciting event from a driving standpoint.
David Hunter who had only just got his Licence to compete in SDC in the morning, would be thrown into the deep end coming up against last years champion James Young. He put in a solid fight, but there is a reason James won last years competition. Strong, Close chase runs and a great lead run would see James advance to the top 16
Zenki vs Kouki, Illand vs MaCleod. Battle of the S14’s was here. Craig MaCleod in the blue Kouki was having nothing but issues all day with the car running really bad. He pushed it to its limits in Qualifying, straining every ounce of power to get just 1 run down and amazing managed to do just that.
Thankfully the car was running “properly” in the battle against Mark Illand and allowed him to really push the car. I think a slight lack in seat time on the day was plaguing Craig however. He chased a little scrappy but his lead run was solid. Hitting every clip really nicely, but having a lack of power in practice in the morning with the car having its gremlins just didn’t give Craig the seat time he needed for the day.
No doubt Craig will have been disappointed with himself and the car. But his solo runs had been great all day. Even with that lack of power he had earlier he was still hitting every single clip. Can’t wait to see him back out with the car running 100%!
Chris Shand in the mighty Altezza had a tough battle on his hands being pitted against 3rd place qualifier Kev. Shand had been having issues in Practice with what looked to be an excessive amount of grip. The little Beams engine could only do so much with the help of some big clutch kicks to keep the car in drift while in practice. As the practice went on and the tyres got more worn he did start to get a much more consistent slide going on.
Shand did everything he could to stick it on Kev’s door in his chase run and did a fine job at that. But Kev is a super aggressive driver when it comes to chasing, being known to be to aggressive at times and putting himself out of competitions in the past with his aggressive style. Kev like always was driving fantastic all day and with a great lead and a nice close chase run he would put shand out in the top 32.
Top 16 battles started with an exciting battle between James Young and Steven McConnell. Proximity and door rubbing is a simple way of explaining this battle. Both drivers chasing ridiculously close, So close the judges had to call a “One more time”.
In the one more time battle it was more or less a mirrored image from the first Battle. Both drivers doing that same lead and chase drive again. I certainly couldn’t tell who had won, The judges took their time and came to the conclusion that Steven had beaten last years champ and moved into the TOP 8.
From here on battles would become this game of consistency, Where one small mistake would cost you a battle.
Chrissy Nailen hot of his win over John Galasso in the huge 600bhp 2JZ JZX100 in the top 32 needed to pull out all the stops to beat Kev and he did try. However Kev’s chase run was just ridiculous. All over the back of Chrissy’s car from start to finish.
Stuart McLellan in the nitros powered barbie E36 took on none other than Angry Jack. Stuart’s car is the only car in the field that runs NOS and it has some serious pace. But Jack being an ex BDC competitor is no stranger to chasing down fast cars. Overall Jack has a good few years of battle practice over Stuart but that doesn’t mean Stuart let him win. Like most of these later battles i’m standing waiting to hear the “One more time” call as these battles are so close.
Like i had been anticipating, a one more time was called. Jack did eventually get the win here over a hard pushing Stuart McLellan and progressed towards the semi finals.
Kev met Mark Illand in the top 8, both drivers had been putting in some great chase runs all day. Kev for me had been easily the best chase driver overall but Mark stuck it right on Kev’s door in his chase run.
Turn these guys around and yet again kev sticks on his opponents door hard than they could do to him.
Naturally Kev got the win here but the man was on fire, it would take a lot for someone to get the better of him.
Into the semi finals and Jack Symes was taking on Steven McConnell. Steven had been doing this very interesting dive on the transition to clip 2 against everyone he had faced so far. This dive was allowing him to get right on top of his competitor coming through the long left harder. Yet again Steven made this huge dive on Jack and stuck to his door through the entire remainder of the section. Jack would then have to do the same thing in order to even gain a one more time.
Amazingly Jack pretty much mirrored Stevens run and by what could only have been the smallest of margins, managed to put himself into the final. Steven would then have to fight for 3rd.
The second battle of the semi finals would see Kev Kay face against Ross Ogilvie. Both of these drivers are regulars to the track and both of which are no stranger to some competition. Ross’ previous battle to get him into the semi finals saw him take down Mark Gemmell in the v8 350z, a real David vs Goliath fight.
A re occurring theme of having no idea who was going to win a battle was something that really set the tone of the day. Every battle was fiercely contested to the bitter end. Yet again though, Kev’s chase run was unreal, Slinging him right into the finals.
Ross Ogilvie and Steven McConnell were to duke for 3rd place honours. This would be yet another battle to head into a one more time with the first pass being too close to call.
In the second battle Ross managed to pull a gap big enough on Steven to edge out an advantage in the first run. Ross would then stick it on the door of Steven and for the frist time in a while, I was clearly able to see an advantage in a battle.
Just like that we had made it to the final. Jack Symes taking on Kev Kay, Jack had been having an overheating issue all day with his car and actually took a five minute rule in order to let his car cool down before he fought for the win.
In the first pass Kev like always put in a great chase run sitting right next to jack through the entire course. Jack would have to it all to do in the next run.
Run number 2, and boy did Jack stick it to Kev. Coming through the infield section Jack dives onto Kev’s door display exactly what Kev had been doing to everyone else on the day. Two pretty amazing back to back runs with no clear winner. Amazingly however, the judges had came to a decision.
Steven McConnell just missed out on 3rd place but picked up a well deserved hard charger trophy.
Ross Ogilvie got himself a well deserved 3rd place trophy.
Jack Symes fought the V8 E30’s overheating issues all day but pushed on and grabbed the 2nd place Trophy.
Kev Key Fought insanely hard all day providing the best chase runs i’ve seen. From practice to the final sticking his car on everyone’s door and getting that glorious 1st place trophy.
So just like that, the day was over. The single smoothest drift competition i have witnessed. Not one hiccup all day and being ahead of schedule.
The Scottish Drift Championship is now in it’s second year and the driving level is getting out of hand. To have such competitive close runs in practice alone is awesome to witness.
Round 3 heads to Golspie and what a venue that will be!
Photos and words by Connor Mathieson