No Smoke No Poke

#SidewaysFridays: British Drift Championship Round 2, Pembrey.

21st June 2013 | BY NSNP

Last weekend the second round of the Maxxis British Drift Car Championship was held at Pembrey Race Circuit in South Wales. From cars driven to the track and raced the same day to those trailered there behind the luxury motor homes of the top flight teams, we found there was a level for everyone wanting to get their drift on. Hit the jump for more pictures and a look into what is probably one of the most accessible motor sports on the planet.

The first teams began to arrive early on Friday afternoon and continued to trickle through the gates of the paddock until the wee hours of Saturday morning. We wandered the pits chatting to the various teams, most of them slightly bleary eyed from Friday’s late night drive and early morning briefings. Even though this was panning out to become a weekend of serious motorsport, everyone we spoke to was in good spirits and relatively laid back ready for a weekend of tyre smoking fun.

Whilst sneaking a peak at the cars before first practice got under way we were staggered by just how much variation in construction there was. With most of the drivers having built the cars themselves and with a distinct lack of “off the shelf parts” being used, there were no two cars alike. Over the weekend we witnessed Volvo, BMW and Mercedes estate cars being campaigned, a classic Ford Escort and as many Nissans and Toyotas as you could shake a gear stick at.

When your bumpers are held on by zip ties, what does it matter that your paint job was done with rattle cans…in the paddock…twenty minutes before you’re due to get out on track?

By mid morning on Saturday the sun was beating down on the tarmac and the hum of generators and compressors had been replaced with the screech of tortured tyres and engines bouncing off the limiter. The practice sessions ran until into the afternoon at which point it was time to start the qualifying.

For those not familiar with the rules of drifting, each car is sent out on it’s own with the aim of gaining  maximum points by entering corners with as much speed and angle as possible and hitting “clipping points” (cones) placed at the edge of the track. The performance of the driver is marked on style, technique and accuracy by the BDC team of judges who then rank the teams accordingly for the next day’s event - Drift Battles.

You gotta just love the aero mods on the front of this Volvo, and the lack of them at the back.

With the first corner being a tight right handed hairpin, we saw some serious entry angles with a few drivers even managing to stick it in backwards - a fabled “reverse entry”.

And as expected, the harder they pushed, the more exciting it was to be stood 10 feet away from them snapping photos from behind a very questionable guard rail…

When the last tyre had been sacrificed to the drifting Gods, the chaos of cars, crews and media teams buzzing around the pits slowly gave way to a more chilled environment. The tools were packed away and the beers and sunglasses came out.

We spent a good portion of the evening eating pizza and drinking beer with the lads from Black Smoke Racing, who had come all the way from Finland on a mini Euro road trip. All Domino’d out we had a wander from garage to garage checking out their competition.

On our travels we met the owner of this Mazda RX7 and marvelled at just how committed he was to weight saving by running no boot lid, to which he replied “We were having heat issued so decided to run with out it”. Need we demonstrate any more the “get shit done” attitude of the competitors?!

The following morning we arrived back at the track for the Drift Battles and were once again blessed by a scorcher of a day. When the sun is shining, everything is better and everybody was again in great spirits, including Mr Start Gate:

Ordinarily only the top 16 would go through to Sunday and race two at a time in the battle, however this Sunday would be a little different. Having seen how high the quality was the organisers felt it would make for an even more exciting event if the top 32 were to go through, doubling the amount of cars getting loose in the welsh sunshine.

Before the battles commenced, we asked ourselves who would be the clear winner and the answer was clear…the tyre fitters.

Having said that, this marshall was clearly beating the recession by running a Jap spare parts business on the side.

As the drift battles progressed, we were beginning to see a lot of top 16 guys getting knocked out by those who just scraped in the top 32. There were mixed opinions on the decision to run such a big final, but having seen people who were killing it in practice absolutely go to pieces once they had another car say two inches off their bumper, the organisers had our full support.

It was our first time witnessing drifting up close and personal and man is it exciting to watch! The speed at which the drivers approach and then carry through the corner, all the while on the absolute edge of traction is astounding.

We were very pleased that Teemu made it in to the top 32 having had some major gearbox issues in practice, resulting in him only putting in one test run before his qualifying.

His first opponent was Brett Castle in the Japspeed Impreza, who he knocked out in fine style as well as trading a little too much paint on his chase lap!

Next up for Teemu was Chris Hawkins, who had just knocked our Formula-D star Darren McNamara. During his lead lap Teemu left Chris for dead, but during his chase lap the gearbox gremlins struck again and the Mercedes put in a DNF after shifting from 4th to 1st by itself mid drift.

The competition was extremely hard fought with some very impressive battles. Steve More came in at 3rd place knocking out local boy Jamie Kenyon. Team MM and their driver Michael Marshall took second with Brendon Stone and his Nissan S15.

With the weekends racing action coming to a close, it was time for the teams to pack up their stands, take down their awnings and pop the cars back on to their trailers for the ride home.

But not for Black Smoke Racing, who simply opened the hatch on the back of their coach and drove the Mercedes up the ramps and in to the back of it.

When we arrived at the circuit gates on Saturday morning we were told that they’d booked the weather especially, and true to their word we had two consecutive days of glorious sunshine. We couldn’t have hoped for a better weekend of motorsport on the Welsh coast. Every team and every person we met were happy to be racing in cars built themselves with friends who’d done the same.

We had a great time in Pembrey and have certainly developed a taste for tyre smoke, which is pretty handy as it rather fits our ethos doesn’t it - No Smoke, No Poke?

Peace out!

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