As the official feeder series to the British Drift Championship (BDC), drivers from HEL DriftCup are given the chance to compete at the highest level.
Round one of the BDC saw drivers head to Rockingham Motor Speedway and the Outer Paddock. There was a custom layout that introduced walls and was designed to encourage close proximity during the all important finals.
Four of the eight eligible HEL DriftCup drivers took the chance to compete in the event; Dan Brown, Mike Walton, Robbie Burgoyne and Dominic Gates.
Dan was tipped to do well, and anyone that has seen him drive in the past knows how well he can handle the pressure. Sadly he had a few issues on the day which ultimately caused him to pull out of the competition early.
The first, as you can see by the above picture, was lack of vision. His car was creating so much smoke he was finding it difficult to see where he was going by the end of each run.
The second was a reoccurring problem with his drive train. We saw him have problems with this at round one of HEL DriftCup. As a result of this problem, he did a safe run on the first round of qualifying runs, placing him in 25th place on the grid for the top 32 finals. Before his second run, another larger problem meant he had to retire from the competition there and then. A broken water pump housing meant we wouldn’t see him take part in the finals. He remained philosophical. His aim of attending was to achieve a BDC licence and as far as he was concerned, is was job done.
Mike Walton had the event of his life! His practice runs were as good as many of the regular Pro Am drivers in the BDC. Everyone wondered if he could keep his calm during qualifying.
He did not disappoint anyone. With a calm head, he secured a place in the finals, qualifying in 12th place.
His first battle set the tone of the rest of the event and he knocked out Tom Marshal with relative ease. His run of success continued, battle after battle. Mike kept a cool head and stuck to the line the judges had stated. By the time he had reached the semi final, everyone knew this wasn’t a fluke. Mike was driving at his very best!
He beat his good friend Lee Barker and made his way to the final. He met the on form Oliver Evans and despite his efforts, Mike’s run of success ended when Oliver took the win.
This did not detract from the fact he had not only secured a place in the BDC, he would drive in the main event of the BDC on Sunday!
With nothing to lose, Mike’s weekend went from the sublime to the ridiculous. He hunted down the Pro drivers in practice like he had been there for years. His good form did not waiver in qualifying and a superb run in qualifying would secure a place in the top 8. This mean he would be in the top 16 finals of the hardest competition in the UK. His opponent in the top 16 was Paul Smith in the JapSpeed GT86. Paul won the battle but Mike didn’t really care. He had exceeded all expectations, had a fabulous weekend and secured a BDC licence.
Robbie’s car may be a little bit under powered from a lot of drivers on the grid, this did not stop him pushing to the limit of his compact. He needed to make an impression to the judges. This he did, his first run was impressive, pushing his car to the limit and rubbing the walls.
His reward saw him qualify in a very impressive 11th place. Considering this is Robbie’s first season of competitive drifting, he could be one to watch in the future.
He was be knocked out on the top 32 by Irishman Ian Levingstone. Robbie was over the moon, a place on the grid of the BDC was his aim and he did so at his first attempt.
Dominic Gates wanted to join his team mates in the BDC and had done for a few years. His driving has improved in Driftcup and he was determined to show he had what it takes.
His practice runs were some of the best all morning, running the walls like a seasoned pro.
His first qualifying run saw him make an uncharacteristic error, a spin on the first corner meant the pressure was on for his second and final run. With the bit between his teeth and his spotter telling him to keep a cool head, he headed off from the line on a mission.
He was close to every clipping point, wall and the line the judges had asked for. His reward was 6th place on the grid for the finals, the highest of all the HEL DriftCup drivers taking part. He was over the moon and so were his team, with the pressure off and a BDC licence in the bank, he was eager to start the battles.
Justin Griffiths was be his first victim, Ian Levingstone may have knocked out Robbie, but Dom made sure the HEL DriftCup drivers meant business and moved on to the great eight.
He then met and on form Scott Cartledge who was smoking the place out. Scott would beat Dom, once again, another very happy driver who had secured a place on the grid of the BDC.
The podium saw a trio of former DriftCup drivers, all proving how the feeder system to the BDC is working perfectly.
We now look forward to round tow of HEL DriftCup at the Adrian Flux Arena on the 22nd April!