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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

 

 

Event

6R4.net Track Day – Curborough

1st August 2017 — by Steve White

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In a year filled with national and World Championship motorsport weekends, it may surprise you to read that a simple club track day was one of my most anticipated events in 2017.

The inaugural 6R4.net track day was the unexpected surprise of 2015 and it’s follow up in 2016 built on that initial success to produce an even better event.

After ironing out the creases last year, the structure of the 2017 track day was effectively a carbon copy of 2016, with many of the same owners once again returning to Curborough Sprint Circuit.

Considering the above it might seem hard to understand how the repeat running of a single-marque track day could hold so much appeal. Crucially though, the focus of this meet wasn’t a commonly occurring mass-produced model, but a rally icon rarely seen in great numbers.

That said, I have attended a lot of single-marque meets over the years and, no matter how unusual the type of car involved is, a lack of variety can severely limit the appeal of repeat events. Thankfully organiser and 6R4.net co-founder Nicky Lindon has realized that even the most die-hard 6R4 lover likes to occasionally look at other cars, and so invitations had once again been extended to a number of other owners.

An early arrival at the circuit meant I had plenty of time to grab a brew and pick a good spot to watch the unloading and preparation of the cars. There probably are better ways to start the day then seeing a paddock slowly filling up with classic rally machinery but, as I sat on the grass and listened to the burble of idling engines, I couldn’t think of one.

As cars started to line up at the entrance of the track, a rather inconspicuous looking truck trundled in and parked up. The new arrival certainly looked about the right size to house a car and its spares, but as the shutter rolled up I was surprised to see two cars neatly stacked in the rear of the truck.

And what a pair they were. Not only had Brian Betteridge brought an absolutely stunning Ford RS200 along, but also a fine example of its predecessor, the ultra-rare Escort RS1700T.

For those of you unfamiliar with the RS1700T, this was Ford’s initial response to the Group B regulations. Using a MK.III Escort as a starting point, Ford engineers reduced the displacement of the 2.0L BDA engine to 1.778, strapped a turbo on and then directed all the turbo-charged goodness to the rear wheels.

This was the first time I have physically laid eyes on a RS1700T and the “adapted” nature of the design becomes very apparent on closer inspection. Components protrude from the bodywork and, compared to other cars of the period, the silhouette of the RS1700T makes the basis of the car easy to identify.

Given the rapid evolution of car design during the Group B period, it’s clear to see why Ford realized they would have to go back to the drawing board to compete with the more radical machinery being produced by their rivals. That said, although the RS1700T is one of the abandoned projects of the era, it was fantastic to see another facet of the Group B story so well persevered.

I have spent many hours ogling RS200’s, but Brian’s example is unquestionably the tidiest I have ever looked round. Outside and inside, the car looked absolutely flawless.

Unfortunately a blown turbo seal meant the Ford was unable to spend much time on track, but it did at least manage a couple of laps before retiring back to the paddock.

Claudio Ascione was a new face among the 6R4 contingent for 2017. Like Computervision, Rothmans are an iconic sponsor from the Group B period and Claudio’s example looked fantastic both in the paddock and out on track.

This particular 6R4 also seemed to like cocking it’s rear wheel on the exit of Fradley Hairpin, which made for entertaining viewing from the infield of the circuit!

Lewis Warner was a late addition to the entry and he was obviously keen to make the most of the opportunity. In fact I don’t think Lewis stopped driving all day, with the distinct crackle of the Celica’s anti-lag becoming a very familiar sound.

The presence of a Group A car might seem a little out of place given the Group B theme of the event but, as a motorsport fan who grew up with this era of rallying, I was as pleased to see the Toyota on track as any of the 80’s classics.

Gary Hewitt has been a regular of the 6R4.net track day since its inception and, like Lewis Warner, Gary was regularly lapping the circuit throughout the morning and afternoon track sessions.

In a paddock filled with rally rarity it was hard for any car to really stand out. To the uninitiated the above may just look a Vauxhall with a body kit nailed to it, but the Astra 4S was Vauxhall’s final attempt at producing a four-wheel drive rally car for Group B and, although it may not look that radical, the innocuous looks disguise what might be the greatest unrealized project of Group B.

As with Brian Betteridge’s RS1700T, Michael Goddard’s Astra 4S was beautifully presented and another unexpected, but fascinating, addition to the mix.

My first experience in a Group B car came at the 2015 6R4.net track day, when I managed to sneak into the co-driver’s seat of Nigel Mummery’s Ford RS200. I was actually Nigel’s first passenger of the day and, although he had warned me that the car hadn’t warmed up (and therefore he couldn’t really thrash it) I still got out of the car thoroughly impressed: and with my love for the RS200 absolutely cemented.

Nigel wasn’t present at last year’s track day, but he was back again for 2017 and so (rather predictably) I made a beeline for him during the lunch break to plead for another ride. Happily the answer was once again a yes, however this time I wouldn’t be the first passenger of the day. The engine and brakes were warm and so I was able to get a much better glimpse as to what the car was capable of.

I have never taken a selfie before, but I wish I had while I was out on track, purely to see just how big the stupid grin plastered across my face was!

After a blast in an RS200, it was going to take something special to get my attention, but there was one more surprise in store for spectators. The pre-event blurb had teased of a “special guest”, but it wasn’t until the early afternoon when the guest arrived. I’m not sure exactly how it came about but, incredibly, current works World Rally Championship driver Craig Breen dropped in to Curborough to swap his Citroen for an MG.

Dan Ellmore was kind enough to entrust Craig with his steed and, after just a handful of sighting laps, Breen looked like he had the measure of the Metro. Many sideway moments followed and the smiles from driver and passenger were evident for all to see.

Watching any driver demonstrate a Group B car is great, but seeing one of the WRC’s best find his feet in the Metro was especially entertaining.

Despite fears that last minute cancellations would ruin the day, the 2017 event proved every bit as good, if not even better, than its predecessors. With Craig Breen setting an example, I wonder if other WRC drivers will be interested at trying their hand in a 6R4 next year?… Fingers crossed I’ll be there to see for myself!

I have to wrap up by extending a huge thanks to Nicky Lindon for once again letting me be part of this unique event. Thanks to Nigel Mummery for the RS200-induced grin and to both Mark and Bryan Sims for making what would have a very long journey an awful lot easier!

 

Want to see more of the 6R4.net track day at Curborough Sprint Circuit? Click here for a full image gallery.

Event

6R4.net Track Day – Curborough

18th July 2016 — by Steve White

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“Beginners luck” is an expression I’m sure most are familiar with and something that everyone is sure to have experienced at least once in their life. Sometimes things just fall into place on the first attempt and, no matter how hard you try to duplicate the same conditions, the results are never as good.

It was the notion of beginners luck that was foremost on my mind as I began the long trek North to Curborough Sprint Circuit for the second 6R4.net track day. Last year’s inaugural 6R4.net meet was unquestionably one of my personal highlights of 2015 and rated among the most enjoyable days I have ever spent at a track. I had zero expectations for last year’s event though and, with the bar raised so high, could a repeat event prove as memorable?

The allocation of invitations in 2015 had been carefully monitored and, although not everyone invited had been directly connected to the individual drivers or cars, all shared a strong passion for rally cars, especially the boxy hatchback from Longbridge. The result was a day that straddled a fine line between enthusiast’s convention and club track day.

Speaking to 6R4.net event organiser Nicky Lindon before the event, it was clear that retaining the balance of last years event had weighed heavily on his mind. Although there was a strong temptation to open the doors to a wider audience, doing so would clearly have resulted in a very different day. By sticking to the same format as before, the relaxed atmosphere for both drivers and spectators would be preserved.

Upon arrival at Curborough something that quickly became apparent was an increased air of confidence from the organisation team. I mean that in an entirely positive sense as, when I first arrived at last year’s event, there was clearly concern that some – or perhaps even none – of the drivers who had expressed an interest in the track day would actually show up. Thankfully many of them did and, after the success of 2015, a strong turnout seemed assured this time around.

With a basic event structure established last year, more attention had been paid to the little details for 2016. The circuit configuration was better defined to drivers, cars heading onto track were now individually numbered for ease of identification, programmes were issued to everyone and (most importantly I would say) bacon sandwiches were now available on site. These were all minor improvements, but all served to make the experience that much more enjoyable.

The familiarity of proceedings (or perhaps it was the bacon sandwiches) seemed to put the owners at ease as well. Some drivers had seemed hesitant to christen the track in 2015, but there were no signs of reluctance this year. Cars were on track from the moment the circuit opened right up to the minute the gate was closed. There seemed to be a lot more enthusiastic driving this time as well, with many drivers making the most of the wide exit on Fradley Hairpin.

In the weeks building up to the track day I had been tipped off that a handful of non-MG’s would once again be invited in order to add a bit of variety to the paddock. However I had wrongly assumed that these would all be Group B cars, thus I was rather surprised to see an icon of the Group 4 era unloading in the paddock.

The Lancia Stratos is one of the great shapes of rallying and Nigel Wilkinson’s replica looked absolutely stunning. I thought the choice of colours was absolutely spot on, with the white, red and green scheme reminiscent enough of the famous Alitalia livery to seem familiar, but different enough to give the car it’s own unique look.

After an overcast morning and a brief spell of sunshine during lunch, the skies turned grey and the track was saturated by rain. Given the rarity of the cars in attendance (and the fact that most of them were shod with slick tyres) I had been expecting things to go quiet once it got damp. These owners had bought their cars along to drive though and, despite the heavy precipitation, that’s exactly what they carried on doing.

With a steady flow of cars on circuit throughout the afternoon, I quickly lost track of time and, when I realized how late in the day it was, I had run out of time to roam around the paddock and pester drivers for a passenger ride. Fortunately owner David Seaton happened to spot me trackside and, despite being saturated from the rain showers, offered me the passenger seat of his RS200S. My long standing love affair with the RS200 is something I touched on in my last blog  and, after experiencing the passenger seat of a competition specification RS200 at last year’s event, I was very interested to see how the road version compared.

Considering the road variant of a Group B car purely by it’s numbers and you could be forgiven for being a little underwhelmed. 300 BHP certainly isn’t anything to be sniffed at, but it’s far from an unobtainable power figure by modern standards. Judging these cars on numbers alone is rather missing the point though. The production versions may sport interior trim and carpets, but that doesn’t disguise the fact these are raw competition machines at heart.

Yes, you could go out and buy a car tomorrow with similar power figures, but nothing available in a showroom can offer you the same motorsport pedigree. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the expression “race car for the road” used in marketing blurb, but said cars will always be based on compromise. Merely road cars with some race inspired extras tacked on. The Group B era was a rare moment in time, when the race car came first and the showroom model played second fiddle.

On the subject of race cars on the road, it would be rude not to mention Rob Hill. Rob was one of the most entertaining drivers on track during the inaugural 6R4.net gathering, so I was glad to see him back again for 2016. As with last year Rob drove his car to the circuit, gave it a damn good thrashing on track and then drove it back home again at the end of the day.

As committed as Rob was, Mark Holmes had to take this year’s prize for most entertaining driver of the day. Wet or dry I don’t think Mark drove a single run without at least one big slide. I am appreciative to all the owners for showing their cars off, but I am particularly grateful to those who are willing to push them up to (and occasionally beyond!) their limit.

Sequels that are better than the original are a rare thing, but I thought the chaps at 6R4.net absolutely nailed it. Although it would have been fantastic for more people to be able to experience the event, opening the gates to the public would have immediately changed the atmosphere, effectively turning a unique track day into just another car show.

So can they master the challenge of the difficult third album and make it three in a row? Fingers crossed that I will get an invitation again next year to see for myself!

Want to see more of the Metro 6R4 track day? Click here for a full image gallery,