Friday afternoon, I finish my daily job, drop the dog at the kennel and I’m on my way down to Buxton. Up until opening Google maps on my phone I only had a rough understanding where the place is - somewhere south-east of Manchester. Maps politely tell me I have 4hrs 34min to drive on my fastest route and that’s not including any stops. However.. Less than 4 hours later I’m here at the track. Despite the fact I got lost - the main reason being - Buxton race track is in the middle of nowhere!
When I say nowhere, I might be a little bit exaggerating, it’s in the middle of Peak District national park. And let me tell you, I nearly missed the track, just because I kept staring at all the amazing sights. Okay, you can’t really miss the track - you drive to the top of the hill and here it stands - 380 meter tarmac oval with steel plate fencing. Racing here started in the early seventies, these days it’s mainly used for stock cars and some drift events.
And it just held the biggest(it’s my personal opinion btw) drift event in it’s history and in this season of British drift championship. There were a lot of talks prior to this event, whether track is actually suitable for such an event like BDC. Rumors were going around that quite a few drivers are not coming due to nearly 70% of all track being concrete walls, having a fear of smashing the cars. I’m pretty sure, most of you will agree, if you scared of a crash - what are you doing in this sport, it’s inevitable, you can’t just run safe tracks all the time. Anyway, back to the event!
Since I was quite late on Friday, it was to my benefit that this round was a night one and I still showed up right when Top 32 started for Pro-AM. I have to admit, I am not the loyal follower of what’s happening in Pro-AM, throughout the season. Hence, up until I heard Ian in the judges tower saying who’s competing for the title, I had only rough idea myself. Let me break it for you, everyone in the TOP 4 season standing table had a chance to be on the top spot.
Josh King - in his E36.
Lwi Edwards - in another E36.
Martyn Cowley - with Nissan S14.
And last, but not least Paul Cunnington - in his Nissan S14 that really wants to be S15 when it will grow up.
Unfortunate to Josh King, Mr. William Hanna took him down in Top 32, completely destroying all of his hopes to take the title this season.
As for the rest of them boys, no one wanted to give up and they all end up on the podium at the end of the evening.
Cowley was crowned the king of the evening, Paul came second and Lwi took the third step on the podium. And this last step on the podium was crucial for the championship, if Lwi would’ve came fourth, the Pro-AM champion name would’ve be granted to Cowley. Surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen and Lwi Edwards is your 2019 Pro-AM champion.
I heard people saying - the party on Friday was good. My lazy ass went to bed, since I knew I have a full day of Saturday and Pro ahead. After quite a late start and I was ready on the track for some Pro practice. Since BDC had an exciting set up this weekend, with Battle Royale being held on Sunday, wild card drivers went out for their practice runs. And here where the first drama of the day happened. As most of you will know, Lithuanian Lunatic Aurimas Vaškelis sat at the top of season’s standings, looking strong and eager to claim the title for the season. We have a saying in Lithuania - “Don’t say hop, before jumping over the marsch”. So coming back to the drama, the car that Aurimas has been driving all season and was confident to drive in the last round, ended up being smashed into the wall. Aurimas was not behind the wheel at the time of the crash. Since the car was sold right after NEC round, with the deal that Aurimas can finish the season in it, the new owner decided to run the Battle Royale on Sunday. Fast forward - Lithuanian are famous for their mechanical abilities, a little over an hour later car was nearly ready to run, from a state that it looked like it’s not gonna show up at the start line.
Pro standing had a very similar situation as Pro-Am, the Top 5 drivers had realistic chances to take the season’s title. As I mentioned, first one was Lithuanian - Aurimas Vaškelis with 1000HP, BMW E46.
Second - only 9 points behind - Martin Wonnacott with Toyota Chaser.
Third - Oliver Evans - in his Nissan S14.
Fourth - Adam Simmons - with increadibly looking BMW Z4.
And last, but not least - Ricky Lawrence - in his Nissan S13.
First one to fall out from the title competition was Ricky, after unfortunate crash in qualifying he was unable to come back on the track and was forced to retire from the competition. Two of these drivers were forced to meet right in Top 24 and it was Aurimas with Adam. Having to fight the demons of the car that was literally ducked taped together after the crash, Aurimas had to admit Adam’s advantage and move to be a nervous spectator for the rest of the night. However, Adam didn’t go far and was knocked out by his rival Oliver at Top 8. Another painful retirement was from Wonnacott - in his Top 8 run he got just too much speed and ended up going into the wall. And if you can do the math right - Oliver Evans was the only one left to advance into Top 4 with real hopes for podium and the title.
Top 4 line up was incredible - two Pro-AM drivers that just got their official Pro licenses a day before and two Pros. Willy Hanna looking like a wounded deer after a painful crash in his chase run at top 16 against Willy Rose , Oliver Evans, Karl Farrar and Matt Carter. I should mentioned that Matt put a 99 points qualifying run earlier that day.
Yet, it wasn’t his day to shine and due to technical issues he was forced to retire from the competition. Top 3 drivers were left and this is how it all turned out. After losing his Top 4 battle against Oliver, Hanna was due to meet Carter for third place, but Matt failed to make it to the finish line and William got his first Pro podium after literally owning a pro license for less than 24hrs. Final battle was against Oliver and Karl. Despite all effort from Karl, it was just not enough and Oliver stepped on the podium not only being a winner of the day, but also being a King of the British drifting this season. Martin Wonnacott came 2nd season overall and Aurimas Vaškelis - 3rd overall.
I feel like I have to state this - after 2 years in British drifting, this event was one of the best I’ve seen and been a part of. From people and the atmosphere, from torrential rain and cold wind, from amazing BDC team and track personnel, to every single driver that came and put the show the last time this season. It was brilliant and I’m so excited to see what Matt Stevenson has up in his sleeves for the next season, because he definitely pulled this one off. He with his whole team, that sits behing the scenes, deserved a massive THANK YOU from every single one of you. Thank You!
xoxo See you next year