The 2018 British Drift Championship season came to a climactic close last weekend. British Drift Championship hopefuls were faced with the challenge of overcoming their bitter rivals from across the Irish Sea as well as the rest of the BDC grid in order to claim the £20,000 prize fund. The BDC Grand Finale was set to be an epic send-off for one of the UK’s iconic circuits as Rockingham Motor Speedway hosted the series for the last time ahead of redevelopment of the venue in the coming months.
A dry yet chilly autumn Sunday saw Matt ‘Doorhunter’ Carter, Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith and Matt ‘Mr Nice Guy’ Denham setup and ready to take on the challenges ahead. The clear skies and dry weather made for plenty of smoke-filled practice runs only serving to boost Matt, Paul and Matt’s confidence going into qualifying.
With the crisp, dry conditions prevailing Matt Denham was first to take on the Rockingham circuit for his 1st qualifying run. Launching from the start line Matt attacked the layout with enthusiasm, leaving a trail of Maxxis Tyres smoke following closely behind. Matt powered his way through the course before taking home a score of 82.7 points as he crossed the line.
Next up 2012 BDC Champion Paul ‘Smokey’ Smith made his intentions for the weekend clear as the Japspeed GT86 made light work of the tight and technical circuit. Paul’s experience behind the wheel shone through as he crossed the line just behind his teammate with a 78.7 point 1st qualifying run.
An already strong set of points on the board, Matt Carter was keen to prove exactly why he is the 2017 BDC Champion as he took to the circuit for his 1st qualifying run. The Japspeed Skyline R32 careered round the course; making the most of the grippy VR1 Maxxis Tyres on the dry tarmac to put on an epic smoke show for the gathered spectators and join his teammates with an impressive 80.3 point 1st run.
Tackling the Corby circuit for his 2nd qualifying run Matt Denham kept up the pace as spectators were treated to a display of technical car control mixed with more than a little determination. The #RXV8 powered across the line still sideways earning Matt a 2nd run score of 79.3 points.
Business continued as normal for Paul Smith as he took to the circuit for his 2nd run. Assaulting the course in full attack mode saw the rear of the GT86 engulfed in smoke billowing from the rear wheels as he crossed the line to claim 84.3 points – a massive improvement of 5.6 points over his 1st run.
Rounding out qualifying for Team Japspeed the Doorhunter lept from the line keen not to be outdone by his teammates or rivals; Matt sailed through the course now clearly very comfortable with the challenge ahead as he crossed the line to take home a very competitive 85.7 points – a huge 5.4 points over his 1st run.
It was clear from the off this weekend would be a challenge for every driver however top 32 battles added an extra level for Team Japspeed as 2012 BDC Champion Paul Smith came face to face with his young teammate ‘Mr Nice Guy’ – Matt Denham. Only 50bhp difference between their cars ensured a fairly level playing field however despite being teammates no punches were held back as the two went head to head on track.
Chasing on run 1 Matt kept his cool; keeping pace with Mr Smith. With chase and lead near mirrors of one another it was difficult to tell a clear advantage as the two lined up for run 2. Leading the way on run two Matt put the power down; his teammate closely following behind. Matching one another move for move left the judges with a tough decision to make albeit one where Team Japspeed would both win and lose. The judge’s call came to push Matt Denham through to the top 16.
In his top 32 battle Matt Carter would have to take down Mike Walton and his 180sx – no mean feat. Leading on run 1 Matt planted his foot and launched the Japspeed R32 from the line and thanks to a combination of 800bhp and precision car control Matt gained significant ground on his rival to claim the advantage. Eager to keep the pressure on Matt powered through the course keeping himself close to his opponent throughout. A strong effort saw him through to join the top 16.
Top 16 battles and the competition began to heat up further as Matt Denham had to overcome Phil Morrison in the DW86. A 150bhp deficit compared to his rival meant Matt would have some work to do. Leading on run 1 Matt put the power down to successfully gain some ground ahead of his opponent who seemed to struggle to keep up. However run 2 saw the Driftworks front man come back fighting as the DW86 launched away from the line leaving Matt playing a game of catch-up. Unfortunately due to a lack of power Matt had little option but to make sacrifices in precision to close the gap. A bold move but ultimately one that paid off as errors from his rival earned Matt his place in the top 8.
Meanwhile Matt Carter came to his top 16 battle to take on Aurimas Vaskelis. Chasing on run 1 Matt was caught trying to catch up as the speed of his rival’s E30 quickly became apparent. Left struggling to catch up Matt was left with some ground to make up as the drivers lined up for run 2.
Leading the way on run 2 Matt put the power down to try and leave his rival behind. The doorhunter became the hunted as pressure from his continental opponent mounted. In an effort to break free Matt pushed just that much too far; ultimately handing the victory and the place in the top 8 to Aurimas.
As the only Team Japspeed driver left in the competition Matt Denham now faced Aurimas Vaskelis in the great 8. Chasing on run 1 Matt knew he would have to push hard to apply the pressure. A very strong start saw Matt almost side by side with his rival through the first section however his opponent began to claw back that distance leaving Matt with some catching up to do.
Run 2 saw Matt bounce from the line with a big entry into the 1st section; sticking firmly to the judged line. However not one to give up easily Aurimas stuck the 760bhp E30 to the door of the #RXV8 throughout to claim the judges favour and bring an end to Matt’s weekend.
Team Japspeed would like to congratulate Aurimas Vaskelis, Duane McKeever and Ryan Caldwell on taking podium at this event.
A fantastic round-up to an exhilarating 2018 season – Team Japspeed may not have come away with a podium position however a strong performance at the last round secured not only the Team Constructors award at the event but the 2018 overall Team Constructors victory.