After attending the last Revolution Motorsport drift day last month I was lucky to receive a free ‘wild card’ entry into the Pro-Am class at the final round of the Hi-Tec drift series which was also held at Wakefield Park. My free entry did not mean that I was the best driver at the Revolution day (Jake from Team Red Stage took those honours) but I was one of the only people to have a proper full CAMS spec roll cage which I believe was why I got picked. I’d actually been hoping to attend this day for a while as I thought it would be the best opportunity to use my Sileighty instead of the R32 so I was pretty pumped to get a free entry!
Given there was only one weekend between the practice day and the competition it was a bit of a rush to sort my car out in time. Luckily Eiji, Rob and Jake all came around and helped fix it up and get it ready to drive. This included fitting a bodykit, fabricating a front reo to hold it up, getting a wheel alignment, fixing a fuel leak and sorting out wheels and tyres. As I don’t have my own trailer yet I borrowed Eiji’s to get the car to the track.
The event took place over Friday/Saturday with the Friday being a practice day that is also open to the public. At a guess there were 5-10 entrants who were only there for the practice day. From what I’ve personally seen these events don’t really have the advertising reach on social media that other clubs seem to generate so a lot of people don’t know about them. These days (known at ‘Drift 4 Real’) only make use of the ‘short course’ which would probably put some people off. Interestingly the practice day went from 9am-5pm which is an hour later than regular drift days run. Track time was therefore plentiful with there only being a couple of people still driving after 4.
Luckily we were given a briefing on the qualifying line in the morning so I was able to practice it all day. This was good as the line through the first corner was very different to what I’ve been running for the last 7 years! The competition layout uses the ‘short course’ with the start line being in the normal spot. Through the first kink the judges were looking for a middle line which is often the line I take although I actually try to take a wide line through the kink. Through the main part of turn one I take a late apex as I come in from the outside of the kink. For the competition though they were looking for a wide line around the very edge of the corner. The reason I take the line I do is I make the kink and the corner itself into one turn – as you can see by my rudimentary drawing. The Hi-Tec line on the other hand more accentuates the straight between the two. The issue for me is with my standard knuckles I didn’t have enough lock (even with lock spacers) to drive sideways on the small straight. For that reason I had to use the handbrake to push the car out wide which the judges didn’t want to see. To confound the issue I was also running on stock boost due to my boost controller failing which made it even harder!
Because the first corner tightened up a lot on the Hi-Tec judged line I was having trouble even linking the first and second corner while my car was down on power. To try and help this I disconnected my front sway bar which made the car more loose and easier to keep sideways at lower speeds. In the future I will probably look at putting a stock sway bar in the front instead of my big and chunky Whiteline one.
For the most part I just wanted to do tandems runs so that I could get a better idea of how everyone drove as I hadn’t been up against many of the drivers before. Unfortunately pretty much everyone just wanted to do solo runs on the Friday, or drive with their friends. In the end I only got 5ish chase runs in after driving all day, the most fun being behind ‘Blaoki Patamura’ who was (initially) just there to Practice.
I drove right up until 5 o’clock and then after parking my car in the pits came back to it to find a large pool of coolant underneath it. Just like at Raleigh in my R32 a few weeks ago I had got a pin-hole leak in a coolant hose under the inlet manifold. After trying to figure out if i could fix it at the track I gave up and took the car round to Team Red Stage Eiji’s house where he and Rob pulled the inlet manifold off for me and repaired it while I ate fried chicken. Luckily Rob’s car had a spare hose I could borrow while his engine is in pieces.
Next morning the three of us arrived at the track bright and early for a second briefing, scrutineering, and so that I could fit a new boost tee. In the morning there was about an hours practice which gave me time to get my boost sorted (car felt amazing at 0.9ish bar compared to the 0.5 I had been running) and for the others to spot my runs from the outside and tell me what I needed to do to hit the judges line. The main areas I needed to improve were going closer to the wall on entry and wider through the first kink. The first clip on the wall was quite a stretch from the first corner for slower cars like mine which was why I was going shallow on the first corner. I’m not sure how heavily weighted that first clip was but I decided to enter a bit later so that I could get a better line through the first corner.
Qualifying was next with Pro-Am up first. The qualifying format is two runs, one after the other with no warm up lap. This is my preferred format so I was happy about that. I was up first as the lowest ranked person in the series and put down two similar runs which were roughly equal to my best runs in that mornings practice. Unfortunately one run had a better first half and one has a better second half but I don’t think it would have changed my position if I’d managed to combine the two. When the tyre smoke settled I had qualified 9th out of 17 people, setting me up for the fairest battle in the best 16 as 9th battles 8th. 8th place qualifier was Daniel Messmer who was the second ranked Pro-Am driver at the time and driving a TD05 Sr20 powered grey Onevia. I talked with David after the event and amazingly he actually made the trip down from Cairns, although he did store the car down here in between rounds. David also has ambitions of being a genuine professional drifter so it will be interesting to see how his career progresses next year. You can check out his page on Facebook here.
After Pro qualifying finished I got ready for my best 16 battle against Daniel and drove out onto the track – where my car promptly broke down half way around the circuit. After an embarrassing tow ride back to the pits which was broadcast on the live stream we found that one of the fuel pump wires had slipped off the battery terminal (it’s a very professional setup) and I was able to head straight back out and line up against Daniel.
Because Daniel was the higher qualifier he was leading first which suited me fine, or so I thought. The lead car starts on the left side (despite some arguing from some very delusional drivers) and has to go through a tight little chicane. As we left the line I didn’t immediately launch my car as I thought the chicane would slow Daniel down more than it actually did. Due to this the gap between us only got wider and I effectively lost the battle before we had even reached the first corner. After my lack luster chase I tried to go as fast and as deep as possible on my own lead run but dropped a tyre on the first corner which guaranteed my loss. Luckily for Daniel this meant he was able to continue on with the event and end up winning the 2018 Pro-Am series.
So with no ‘expression sessions’ scheduled on the Saturday that meant I was done for the day. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. As I’ve mentioned previously tandems/chasing is an area where I really need to improve and this event further highlighted it without actually giving me many options to get better at it. Perhaps worst of all was since the event was live streamed I had one of the first opportunities to actually see my driving from the outside, but the way I drove was rubbish and isn’t even worth watching! Given how much time I’ve spent drifting (probably more than all the other Pro-Am drivers combined) the average results I keep getting are a definite downer. I strongly believe though that adverse conditions create the best opportunities for growth and having identified some specific points to work on I’m quietly confident that win or lose I will become a more fearsome adversary in next year’s competitions 🙂
Thanks for all the guys from the Hi-Tec series and Wakefield Park for putting on a well-run event! With any luck I’ll be back next year for at least one round and hopefully more 🙂