British Drift Championship – Pre Season Testing: Three Sisters

Japspeed pro driver, Matt Denham, made the trip up to the North West to get in some valuable track time before the opening round of the 2020 BDC Championship.

Images: Team Japspeed

It had been 9 months since Matt was last behind the wheel of his Mazda RXV8 – Drift Matsuri at the end of October 2019 – and with just over a week to go until the first round of the 2020 BDC Championship at Driftland, Matt and his crew where keen to get some mileage on the car to test reliability. It was also a great opportunity for Matt to shake off any off-season rustiness.

We arrived at Three Sisters just before 10am, ready for our three hour track session starting at midday. This gave us plenty of time to unload the car off the trailer and go through our car checks.

Matt Denham checks his tyre pressures before heading out on his first run.

Before Matt head out on track we checked tyre pressures, oil and fluid levels and ensured the wheels where torqued correctly. It was then time to go through the complicated start procedure to prime the car before firing it into life.

Unlike your road car at home, the procedure to get the RXV8 running is a much longer process. It involves removing 2 fuses, this allows the car to turn over but not start, which raises the oil pressure and primes the engine. Once the correct pressures are reached the fuses can be re-fitted and the car is ready to start.

As soon as the clock struck 12, Matt was out on track ready for his first laps in 9 months. Usually drivers take a few laps to warm up, but not Matt, he was straight on the attack finding the limits of the car and track within the first couple of corners. Thus providing a great photo opportunity as sent the car into a full 360 spin just as we got to our viewing point.

Matt completed another 3 ‘Installation Laps’ before heading back into the pits to check the car over and make some adjustments. Although the car was running great, Matt was not entirely happy with the setup. The car was a handful and leaving Matt with a lot of work to do, just to keep it on the black stuff.

We set about changing the rear tyres to offer more grip, adjusted tyre pressures and tweaked the suspension geometry to help make the car more predictable on the limit.

Matt was now much happier with the balance and set up of the car and he was able to throw it around the technical Three Sisters track with much more precision.

Everything was going very well and the reliability problems that had plagued the team last year appear to be resolved. The only failure arrived on the very last run of the day, as Matt exited the hairpin onto the back straight, the rear poly-carbonate window blew out, cutting the session short. (The rear window is shaped to feed air into the radiator) without it, the car could be susceptible to overheating.

After a very positive day, Matt is ready to go on the offensive, starting at Driftland on the 8th-9th August 2020!

Keep an eye on our Social Media channels for more updates and footage from this test day! Instagram: @teamjapspeed @mattdenhamdrift We are also on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.