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EVENT: 2012 British Drift Championship: Round Five Super Pro: Trax Silverstone

Posted by Ian Gratton on 16th September 2012 in Events, Fabian Linder, Ian Gratton, Jordan Butters

Trax is a show that caters for all aspects of the car scene and only has time slots for a Super Pro Top 16 – but its by no means a display.  The points gained here today count for the 2012 championship and with only one more round to go after this opportunities to up your points quota are running out.

The talk of the event was the invasion by the Speedhunters team. Formula Drift star Frederic Aasbø was to debut his newly built 2JZ-powered wild Toyota GT86, dubbed the ’86X’.

Darren Mcnamara also made a return to Silverstone in his Rotary powered AE86.

Also in tow were a gaggle of Speedhunters photographers, Larry Chen making the trip over from the US, Rod Chong hopping over the Channel from Stockholm and Johnathan Moore and Ross Ianson arriving from within the UK.

Apparently a ‘gaggle’ is the correct plural for a group of Speedhunters.

They also brought with them an impressive selection of SH goodies and the two Speedhunters spokesmodels. Rod gives Charlotte Moran a lesson in photography above….

….and before you know it there was no stopping them. For once Drifted were well and truly out-numbered!

The SH girls even had a crack at spannering!

It must be a prerequisite to be good looking to be a mechanic for team Speedhunters?

The day kicked off nice and early with the drivers getting to grips with the fast Silverstone layout straight away. Some had plenty of experience at the track, such as SATS driver Mark Luney….

Where it was others first time, Kevin Corsius makes the impressive journey to reach the gravel trap, no mean feat considering the amount of grass and tarmac to cross first.

The drivers are fired off towards the corner, two by two, to maximise practice time.

All under the watchful eye of start-line marshal Malx. He’s a happier bloke than he looks here.

Some people’s mornings went better than others. D-mac was struggling with serious steering rack issues. His team were quickly on hand to diagnose the problem.

Others had to fend for themselves without a big support crew. One of the huge contrasts in drifting is the difference between the big guys running sponsored cars and the small guys making what they have work. The best part is, the underdog has just as much chance in battle.

The drivers have to complete a full lap of the GP circuit to return to the start line. The temptation to drift the entire length of the track must be pretty hard to resist!

Frederic seemed to be happy with how the 86X was performing. Throwing a brand new chassis and engine combo into one of Europe’s fastest initiations is a baptism of fire for sure!

The ‘regulars’ watched on with eager eyes, keen to see how the car and driver combo was doing and what it would take to match up to them.

Everyone made the most of the limited practice time. BDC events usually span an entire weekend with hours of practice. With this round being part of the busy Trax show, morning practice was limited to just 30 minutes.

After the mornings practice drivers got a chance to make some tweaks prior to qualifying.

Team D-mac set about diagnosing….

….and fixing the steering rack problem.

A race track is a living thing – when rubber-ed up and dry the surface behaves completely differently to when its had a light dusting of rain – turn in and traction are massively affected.  With the weather changeable this is the last chance make major changes to car setup.

We took the time to chin wag and catch up with our media buddies. There was some beard-pulling with Scene Media’s Ben Chandler.

Some chatting to man-on-the-mic Bryn Musselwhite….

And lots of shoving cameras in people’s faces.

Which is always fun.

The atmosphere in the BDC paddock is always super-light-hearted and fun.

You sometimes forget that this is a serious race championship with points and reputations at stake.

Part of the BDC show at Trax is the driver signing.

It’s a great chance for the fans to meet and talk to their idols on the track.

They get a glimpse of the personalities behind the smoke, putting a face to a car is a big part of raising the profile of these guys and girls.

It was also great to see Marc Huxley signing autographs with the other Super Pro drivers.  Marc’s BDC career of only 2 years has seen him advance from Semi-Pro to Pro – and after a great drive this year earn his spot in Super Pro after a great performance at Lyddon Hill.  What makes this even more special is Hux is using an almost standard SR20DET engine in a little KE70 Corolla DX 4door.  In an era where its not uncommon for most of the field to be running upwards of 450bhp (Topping out at an insane 1000+bhp of Mark Luney’s SATS Supra) this is quite an achievement and the combo have picked up quite a following.  If you are reading this brother Hux – tip of the hat to you!

Qualifying

It’s a quandary that the drivers of the BDC have been in numerous times over the year. Dry practice, followed by wet qualifying.

A few years ago this situation would have sent 90% of the field spinning off track. But not any more.

The increase in the level of driving skill doesn’t simply extend to close proximity in battles, or long smokey high-angle drifting – it also means that these guys can control their cars in even the trickiest conditions, without practice.

The only downside is that the crowd don’t get quite the same spectacle. Entry speeds are lower and there’s very little in the way of smoke, but what are you going to do? This is England.

Frederic Aasbø obviously has no problem in adjusting to the weather and the new car, nailing top qualifier spot with a 92-point run.

Top 16

First of the Top 16 battles saw Team Japspeed’s Shane O’Sullivan in the Monster Energy Nissan S15 up against Wayne Keeber in the JZZ30 Toyota Soarer.

In the first battle Keeber chases hard and doesn’t give Shane a chance to pull ahead.

Next up we have Team Need For Speed driver and Formula Drift competitor Darren Mcnamara in the 13B triple rotor powered AE86 against David Waterworth in the Dodge Viper V10 powered S15.  Darren had some steering issues after the morning practice but with those resolved the car was gong well again.

Darren starts up front in the first of the battles and you’d think with a lighter more nimble car (A Viper engine and gearbox weighs about 350kilos and D-mac’s AE86 weighs about 750kilos – do the math) he would take a big lead – this simply wasn’t the case and David Waterworth stayed glued to the back of the little Corolla.  Round the long final turn D-mac manages to pull away from the S15.

The cars switch places for the second battle and from the chase position the lighter car is more easily able to adapt to the line of the simply awesome sounding S15.

Its a tough decision for the judges to make but D-mac goes into the Top 8!

Next up a Team Japspeed Battle – Paul Smith in the S15 – Steve Baggsy Biagioni in the RWD Hawkeye Impreza.

A grudge match with a team mate is never good but its bound to happen sooner or later in the top 16.

In the first battle it was pretty evenly matched but once Paul Smith had moved into the lead position he romped into the lead in the second part of the course securing a Top 8 spot.

Next – Mark Luney in the formidable 1000+bhp JZA80 SATS Motorsport Supra against Julie Robinson in the R32.

Julie’s Skyline has a significant power deficit over the SATS Supra – but you don’t need power to initiate late – and she sure did – in the first turn only a car width between the 2 drivers.  In the later part of the course the Supra pulls away and takes an advantage.

With the cars switching places Julie is in a much better position to control the battle.  Luney matches Julies every more and by the end of the course has stayed relatively close.  The advantage from the first battle sees The SATS Supra and Mark Luney into the Top 8.

Next up – Simon Perry in the Lassa Tyres R33 Skyline and Team Japspeed’s Shane Lynch in the Monster Engery backed S15. Shane is really close to the pink skyline at the start of the pit exit but….

….has to take a much wider line to scrub off some speed – the super potent S15 and some good skill Shane is back close by the end of the course.

In the second battle Simon Perry matches Shane’s initiation more consistently and by the first apex the cars both hit the apex of the first turn perfectly.

By the finish line Mr. Lynch had managed to pull away from the Lassa tyres Skyline but due to the error in the first battle and a second consistent run it was Simon Perry who would progress into the final 8 battles.

Walton Smith vs. Matt Carter.  Walton is suffering from a blown fourth gear and can’t match up to Carter’s pace. In the first run the Subaru takes an awkward line into the first turn to try and get close to the Team Falken S13.5 – Matt Carter takes an advantage in the first battle.

Walton gets a much better line into the first corner and pulls away from the Team Falken S13.5 but by the first transition the gap has closed and Matt Carter is right on the back of the Subaru.

The Jap Performance Parts Impreza just can’t pull away and Matt Carter goes into the Top 8.

Belgium’s Kevin Corsius vs Steve ‘Stiggy’ Evans in the mighty Burton Power Toyota Starlet.  Having missed round 4 at Lydden hill this was my first chance to see Kevin at the wheel.  Both drivers go hard and there’s no real advantage for either driver.

Switching places both drivers go super aggressive hoping to pull something out of the bag to gain an advantage in the last battle.  With both drivers almost backwards into the first turn they yellow BMW overcooks things giving Stiggy and the little Starlet a nice easy blast through the final section of the course – the normally aspirated Cosworth YB engine screaming like a banshee.  Stiggy goes into the final 8.

Last of the Top 16 battles sees Steve ‘Speed’ Moore up against Norway’s Fredric Aasbø in the X86.  Having watched this car come together on Speedhunters and seeing its first outing at Gatebil last month I was eager to see how this modern day interpretation of the AE86 we know and love would fair in competition.

The work Fredric and the team have done to the car is incredible – with the Toyota JZ engine in the front a very special bespoke suspension components its a complete animal. That aside – SATS driver Steve Moore gave good chase and stayed close and accurately matched Fredric’s run through the course.

By now the track was damp with drizzle and any chance of smoke was sadly gone for the afternoon.  Switching places Fredric stuck tight to Moore’s door – taking him and the 86X into the Top 8.

Top 8

Wayne Keeber vs. D-mac.  Keeber comes in hard on the first battle and can’t mimic the line created by D-mac in the lead position and goes off track.

On the 2nd run D-mac puts in a much much cleaner run from the chase position.

D-mac goes through into the Semi final battles.

Next up Mark Luney vs. Paul Smith.

At the end of the first battle Smith has kept the space between himself and Mark Luney to a minimum.

Switching places Smith pulls a substantial lead before the apex of the first turn.

By the end of the course Luney has recovered some of the lost ground but Paul Smith moves on to the semi finals.

Fortunately the drizzle has slowed and the cars are even starting to make some smoke.  Maybe we will have a some smoke this afternoon after all!

Next up Simon Perry in the Team Lassa Tyres R33 skyline and Team Falken’s Matt Carter.  Carter initiates early at speed – as does Simon Perry and at the apex some of Matt Carters speed has caused him to take a slightly wider line through the first turn.

By the end of the course Matt has pulled a slight lead.

On the second run Matt makes a mistake coming out of the first turn, as despite scrabbling back and making up ground on Perry around Luffield, the mistake is enough to cost him the battle. Perry goes through to the Semi-Finals.

Next up an all Toyota battle – Steve ‘Stiggy’ Evans in the little KP Starlet against Fredric Aasbø in the hugely potent X86.  The X86 has almost 3 times the power of the little Starlet and Stiggy has to chase hard.  With a lot of the dampness remaining on the track before the first turn this makes things a little interesting.  Stiggy has to give the little Starlet maximum attack to make sure he has enough speed to keep chasing Aasbø’s car for the remainder of the course.  Aasbø scrubs of some speed – Stiggy doesn’t and makes contact with the side of the X86 sending him backwards at speed with a smashed in b-pillar.

The damage to the new car is heart crushing.

Aasbø takes the advantage in the first battle with an easy run through the course and the cars turn round and head back to the start line passing the debris on the track for the second battle – its all pretty academic now with Stiggy scoring 0 points but in drifting everything can change at the drop of a hat – its not over yet!

A photographer high up (in this case Speedhunter Jonathan Moore) peers back up the track to the start line as the marshals check over both cars before sending the second run.  Everything looks good – and we are back to the business of deciding the Stiggy vs. Aasbø battle.

In the lead spot Stiggy drives a very clean second battle but the damage is already done, literally.  Fredric Aasbø and the X86 go into the semi final battles.

Semi-Finals

Current championship points-leader Paul Smith from Team Japspeed was pitched against Team Speedhunters D-mac.

Despite this being a one-off throw-away round for Darren, he put the Corolla in the S15′s door as if his championship depended on it.

The Japspeed driver kept his cool and maintained a good line through out the course.

After they switched places there was still nothing to separate them. The judges call One More Time.

A fresh set of Maxxis on the S15 and Smith edges out D-mac after two more close runs. The Japspeed driver heads into the Finals.

Seasoned BDC regular Simon Perry would face seasoned Formula Drift regular Frederic Aasbø for the last spot in the Finals.

Aasbø chases consistently well, the driver and car combo now well versed with Silverstone’s curves.

They switch and Aasbø leads with a fast, strong line, he deploys the GT86 air-brake around the last corner to slow him down.

Or maybe the boot lid just popped open. Either way, the runs was enough to secure his place in the Finals.

Third Place Battle

Simon Perry’s day wasn’t quite over as he faced up against D-mac for the bottom step of the podium.

Perry throws an un-matchable line smoke and angle down throughout the course, securing his place on the podium.

Final

Paul Smith finds himself in his second Final for two events in a row. As they initiate into the first corner Aasbø has less angle but is right on his door.

By now the track has dried out and there’s plenty of smoke in the air by the end of the first run.

After two runs the two are inseparable – Aasbø’s angle into the first corner when leading is immense and Smith has to give it maximum commitment to keep up.

Just look at that angle on Aasbø’s front wheels! The judges can’t call a winner however so it goes to One More Time!

The two go at it again, both fighting hard for the win.

Two more close runs and the judges had reached a decision. There was a sign of mutual respect from both drivers for each other. This is what drifting is all about.

Frederic Aasbø is awarded the win for the second year running at Silverstone, with Paul Smith taking second and Simon Perry securing third.

Going into the final round of the championship this gives Smith a 28-point lead going into the finals.

One again, BDC Silverstone delivers something special. World class driving at a world famous circuit. The BDC returns to Knockhill in Scotland for the final round of the 2012 season where a new champion would be crowned.

We’ve included a MONSTER photo gallery ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE from the event, enjoy!

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Written by Ian Gratton

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