A full day of drifting had already taken place across the venue before the HEL DriftCup drivers set up on the outer paddock.
A custom layout awaited them with a short run into the first corner with clip one on the outside, mid-way around the turn before cutting to the inside for clip two on the exit of the turn.
The next two clips had the drivers running around the outside of the next left turn, they were asked to run out to the clips but not onto the walls.
A quick transition past the judging tower and into another left hander with clip 5 on mid-way round.
The final clip on the exit of the last corner proved difficult for many drivers to get out to early in the day whilst the track was damp, once it dried up and the speeds increased the drivers managed it with ease, coming out of the last corner in a cloud of smoke.
The start of the year always brings so many new drivers to DriftCup but with so many drivers returning for their second or third seasons it would be a challenge to stand out from the crowd.
The morning practice session kicked off with a damp track and light rain falling taking away all hope of the track drying up soon.
The drivers took it easy to start with learning the grip levels with each pass and working their way out to all of the clipping points.
Soon drivers would start twinning to practice it on this layout ahead of the afternoon’s battles.
Qualifying gave each driver two non-consecutive runs to please the judges of Ryan Pothecary, Julian Smith and Dan Firmager. The conditions were tricky with patches of wet and dry track catching many drivers out over their runs.
2016 King of the Ring Champion, Alistair Sutton, would emerge as the top qualifier with a score of 82.3 on his second run.
In second place by a narrow margin was Frazer Jamieson with 82 points.
The battles kicked off with the track drying with each passing run, Dan Brown and Nathan Cox were the first battle to head out onto the track with Dan Brown quickly taking the win, heading through to the Top 16.
Stuart Maclachlan had a great battle with Dominic Gates before Dominic would take his S13 through to the Top 16.
Newcomer Robbie Burqoyne was on a mission as he knocked Richard Gladwin out of competition with a great chase run, pinning his BMW to the Escort Cosworths door for much of his chase run.
On the other side of the Top 32 we would see Mike Walton and Mike Jackson battle through to a second one more time before Mike Walton would be declared the winner, sealing his place in the Top 16.
Top qualifier, Alistair Sutton also found his way into the Top 16 after battling Matt Fountain, with a good lead run performance resulting in him pulling a gap over Matt in the Soarer.
The Top 16 battles saw Dan Brown advance into the Top 8 after going one more time against Paul Cunnington.
Dominic Gates would also have to battle one more time against Michelle Westby before he could advance to the Top 16.
Another close battle that would need a one more time to decide it was that of Robbie Burgoyne and Rob Johnston, both drivers had great lead and chase runs before a spin would hand it to Robbie.
Second place qualifier, Frazer Jamieson, would exit the competition at this stage against Phillip Hayden with a spin deciding it in favour of Phillip.
The one more times weren’t over in the Top 16 yet as Lee Lawrence and Mike Walton needing another run to decide their battle in favour of Mike.
Haydn Cruickshank was showing that he is one to watch this season as he would advance to the Top 8 after his battle with Yohann Quaziz.
The Top 8 started with a battle between the BMW E46 of Dan Brown and the S13 of Dominic Gates, two great runs and some dirt drops after the final clip before it was decided that Dan Brown would continue through to the Top 4.
Robbie Burgoyne would also progress to the Top 4 after another great chase run in his battle with Phillip Hayden.
Haydn Cruickshank put the pressure on Mike Walton whilst chasing in their battle, as they swapped over Mike couldn’t do the same, spinning before the finish.
The last spot in the final four went to Alistair Sutton who was looking strong throughout all of his battles so far.
Dan Brown and Robbie Burgoyne lined up to decide who would progress into the final, both drivers gave it their all with great lead and chase runs, ultimately it would be Dan Brown heading in to the final.
Haydn Cruickshank and Alistair Sutton battled for the remaining place, it was another close battle but Alistair had done enough to make it through to the final.
The final battle was both more exciting and less exciting than expected, on the first run Alistair had started to run out of fuel, on the first corner it would start to cut out causing a collision.
Alistair held his hands up and accepted fault before adding some fuel and returning to the start line for his chase run. This time Dan Brown pulled off track and we all thought that he was trying to get a one more time in order to have a fair battle, it turned out to be a broken drive shaft.
With no spares to swap it would be the end of the day, Alistair Sutton would take the win on his very first attempt. Dan Brown took second place and Haydn Cruickshank in third.
Rob Johnston would be awarded the Aford Awards hard charger trophy for his aggressive driving throughout the day.
The team award went to Flatout Factory Drift Academy.
It was a great way to kick off the 2017 HEL Performance DriftCup season! The next round of Driftcup takes place at the Adrian Flux Arena in Kings Lynn on April 22nd, come along to the track and see the action for yourselves!