You Can Call It a Komeback | UKDC 2021 @ Teeside Autodrome

Honestly, I don’t follow the sport of drifting at all. So when the head of media gave me shout via Messenger a couple months ago, asking if I’d be available to add myself to staff ensemble for UKDC (United Kingdom Drift Championship) as Covid-bullshit rules began to relax, I decided to check-in and see how the grassroots-level competition has progressed.

Elgrand or Tranny-van?

I’d not smelt burning rubber since Drift Matsuri in 2019, two years since time of writing which made me think: what have I missed? My curiosity kicked in, and seen as though I had nothing planned, I went over to Teeside Autodrome on the 5th of September for Round 4 of UKDC.

First off, I was a bit lost trying to find reason for DriftCup being no more. I don’t understand why the up-and-coming national grassroots, entry-level drifting series vanished into the proverbial cloud of smoke. But here we are, an all-“new” championship that stands independant of BDC and no longer acts as a ‘feeder series’ to the national pro-level championship.

The roster for both categories, Pro and Pro2, are huge! But then again, there is a bit of overlap between BDC and UKDC, allowing the big dogs to put their prospective rivals to the test.

Drifting as a sport is cool and all, but as somebody who’s not particularly keen on the competition itself, I was there to seek out the original essence of drifting, if it does still exist here in the England…

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand how something as visceral as ripping the tread off your rear tyres can enable competitors to be driven to exhaust every ounce of concentration all for the sake of proving their worth. It appears that drifting, is as much of a mind game as it is a physically-intense form of motorsport. But, even if drifting did start out as a “pissing contest” on the touge of Japan, all I care about to be honest is the raw passion that certain drivers have for the art of slide. And that can be seen in the charismatic driving style and precise car control some have the talent for.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling from here on out.

Back to the event coverage at hand; I attended the media briefing that morning before making my way over to the pre-stage area or whatever it’s called. That bit of the track where drivers line their cars up prior to entering the “burnout-box” to get some temperature into their tyres.

First entrant that stood out to me from the jump was this PS13 piloted by Danny Whyman from Team Low Origin.

His front camber setting is probably the only negative point that I’d be able to make about this build…

The new paint looked spot on. I can appreciate those who refrain from tattering their car with a bunch of sponsor decals.

DMAX Drift Spec aero parts if I’m not mistaken, giving this Silvia plenty of fashion points.

Not a clue what these wheels are, but they kinda resemble the RE-Amemiya AW-7 multipiece. I reckon these chromies were just something to wrap tyres around for practice purposes.

I’m not a typical photographer, so asking people I don’t know to “thumbs-up” and all that was a bit awkward.

Some of these elite motorsport athletes (sarkasm) are used to cameras being stuck in their face/windscreens, which made it easier and less awkward at times.

Always pleasant to see an RX-8 getting in the mix. This one looked particularly aggressive with a “Mazdaspeed” frontend accompanied by a pair of widened front wings.

The SE3P chassis from this angle is golden. The way the factory front arches were sculpted by Mazda’s design technicians are like nothing else seen on cars of the same early 2000s era. Then to go and plonk widearches over them just turns the sick-o-meter dial to 11.

A familiar livery came into my line of sight…

The first time I saw Haydn Cruickshank’s Toyota Cresta was at this exact track back in 2019’s BDC event.

A car with years of use and abuse, yet – from the exterior atleast – this Toyota looks fresh as a daisy for a compeition drift tool.

Simply dressed in battle-ready garments, Marcus Clare’s R32 Skyline looked like it meant business.

Sat on a concave set of 7Twenty Style46 wheels, the rough purple bodywork has obviously been stressed to the nth degree, regardless of how nice the paintjob once was.

False headlights were pretty convincing from a few metres away.

Ryan Hughes’ S14 is a purpose-built, no-BS machine without a doubt. Origin Lab Stream bumper up front, going into front wings and sideskirt made by the same company, but the rear-end baffles me a bit. Custom bumper/diffuser perhaps?

Instantly recognisable and klassic Kouki S14 boot spoiler.

Work CR managing the steering inputs up front…

…whilst some bronze 5-spoke wheels out back handles the grunt sent from the 500+ horsepower SR20. Can’t forget that trusty twin-caliper setup on each hub made up of OEM parts too.

Pure M-car power was out to represent the Euro klique, Mark Smith being one of the standout competitors whipping his S54-powered E46.

You can always count on Team Japspeed to show up and do their thing.

I’d seen their 180SX doing the rounds at other drift events, but it was their S15 that interested me most.

Rob Black has done a fine job putting this 1JZ white knight together.

The people’s favourite – Tom Van Beek.

The Destroy or Die driver puts 900% effort in on every run, but at the same time, he makes it look like drifting an MX-5 is a walk in the park. Anybody whose tried maintaining angle of an NA/NB/NC/ND chassis will know very well how tricky it is.

Two Mazdas that are often the butt of the joke, about to set the record straight.

JJ Stevens and his R34 Skyline are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, I mean, how can you not be impressed?

Sikky isn’t a name I’m familiar with, but then again, I’m not really involved with the drift scene as both my cars are FF. Appears to be one of those quick-change differentials for those who aim to optimise that final drive ratio for any given course.

Tomei, Samsonas, Garrett. These are but a few of the time-proven brands that feature throughout this build, giving you an idea of how serious this Skyline is.

Another S14 that looks like it has seen some duty.

Crisp Tuning and their Rocket Bunny S14.5 made one hell of an RB-sounding racket.

Straight-sixes in Silvias make so much sense.

This Soarer/SC (there’s no way of knowing with it being this far from a stock exterior) stays true to the tri-colour livery it sported at DriftCup a couple years back.

Stefan Stefanov’s RPS13 has no need for the hatch with the rear-mount radiator setup aiding the cooling system at low vehicle speeds.

You’ll have noticed I spent quite a bit of time shooting cars whilst they readied-up prior to practice runs. Don’t worry, there’s visuals of the cars drifitng coming up next, so hold tight.

I’ll end this part of the UKDC coverage with an image of Van Beek launching his 5 out the gate…

Teeside Autodrome – BDC Rd.1 2019

This time last week, me and two pals went further north, on a bit of a whim, to Teeside to watch UK’s top drawer drift acts. The kickstarting round was held up at Teeside Autodrome, buried in an industrial estate this outdoor karting track was an adequate opening venue for the competitors to get into the fighting spirit.

It was my first time attending any British Drift Championship event, so I looked forward to seeing some very serious cars out there. Who knows, some of these might go onto competing on a global scale in series such as Forumla D in the USA, or D1 Grand Prix in Japan. Remember where you saw them first!

The variety of cars on track was pleasant. I felt it was a healthy balance and not the typical S-chassis fest (not at all disliking Nissan’s Silvias, but it can go stale). In my eyes, the ratio between Japanese and non-Japanese was optimum aswell, so happy days. Except, there were no rotaries where there should have been, so that was a letdown. Nevertheless, the liveries on some of the machines surprisingly impressed, as I have been disappointed with the lack of creativity in the UK when it comes to decal and vinyl design. I digress, please sample some of the drifters in action yourself…

Practice and qualifying stages over, it was time for a break and then we spectated the battlers going bumper to boot as they duelled two laps of the course. No mishaps to mention (except one spinout, nothing major) which goes to show the amount of skill these drivers have; following a car in front whilst its sliding whilst you are mid-drift and then synchronizing speed and angle in order to maintain the closest gap possible all takes great deal of calculation in rapid progress.

It was cool to get up close views of the cars that day, but as you can imagine hundreds of others doing the same doesn’t allow for the “best” photos, yet some shots came out well with there being life in them.

Upon exit, I spotted some fancy metal, namely that blue-grey 180SX.

Parked up outside the gate was this big-timer. The E60 5-series still looks modern and less dated than the Mercedes-Benz and Audi rivals of its time. And the M5 version of this chassis is something out of this world with its V10 beating heart. Unfortunately this bold blue example sporting Work’s 2-piece T7R wheels was not a ‘M’ car, but it had a ridiculously wide set of arches which the photos do no justice for.

Luke’s thoughts on the car are seen in his facial expression. Caterham/Merc owners I guess…

We pass this nice looking, OEM+ NB/Mk2 Mazda MX-5 on the way out. Lowered on Euphonic wheels and the small details make for great effect on this Titanium Grey NB, such as the rare Mazdaspeed front bumper mask and rear adjustable spoiler, along with tinted headlamp cluster and blanked side reflectors.

I hope my ex-roadster is being looked after and well driven.

Well, that’s that for this years first British drifting series event. Watching those who are dedicated to the sport is enjoyable, and it is analogous to boxing/MMA in some sense without the brutal contact (most of the time).

I hope you were motivated to go out and experience the sights and sounds for yourself. Until next time…