Friday may have been chilled but Saturday at Round 1 of the 2013 BDC was all action. With two practice sessions and qualifying to get through it was time for everyone to put their game face on and get serious. It also meant that I was constantly running around the pits and track trying to get the shots I needed while catching up with mates, team mates and others that I’d been meaning to speak to. As predicted, Friday night at the hotel hadn’t been the quietest of evenings either but hey, what else would you expect from a bunch of rowdy Irish guys, a couple of Englishmen and a bar that stayed open as long as they liked!?

With Saturday bearing more importance than the Friday the pits were filled with activity and there was a lot more to check out than the previous day. The Japspeed boys were busy finishing a couple of last minute jobs when I arrived at the circuit.

Bon Bon has joined the judging panel for 2013 and he obviously thought it would be rude not to arrive in one of his own drift cars. I don’t think I’ve seen his mental JZX81 Mark II since Awesomefest so I was very glad to see it again.

The Driftworks guys had also turned up, along with their 1JZ R32.

Local boy Liam Doran had also shown up in his brilliantly styled PS13.

It wasn’t long before the Semi-Pros headed out for the first of their 45 minute practice sessions.

Joe Ankers was busy trying to get used to his new front end setup after having not drifted the car in the dry since fitting chopped knuckles, offset rack spacers and semi-slick front tyres.

He wasn’t having the best time out there but he seemed to be getting used to the setup pretty quickly.

Matt Samuel in the second of the three Car Loan 4U cars competing was looking very smooth and controlled in his Z32.

Matt always looks comfortable in the big 300 but I could tell he was making an effort to push himself and find the limits in case he needed to pull something extra special out of the bag later on.

It was good to see Adam Simmons going well after all the woes he’d had with the car last year.

The BMW V8 swap into a Nissan may have been relatively unheard of at the time but it’s been seen quite a few times now and Adam’s car is a great example of how effective they can be.

Another BMW V8 (albeit supercharged) could be found beneath the bonnet of this PS13.

Looking good…

…until moments later!

Star of Gymkhana Grid Luke Woodham was to be seen making his BDC debut.

I loved the look of this S13 sat on particularly girthy Rota MXRs; even the Supermade front bumper (that I’m usually impartial to) looked in good company with the rest of the car.

Watch out for the…!

…never mind.

I’d had a poke around Lloyd Bagladi’s 1JZ powered R32 when I was last down at Protuner and I could safely say it was one of the best prepared drift cars I’d ever seen.

So you can imagine the twinge I felt when this happened right in front of me…

…thankfully he’s already started the rebuild and will be back before we know it!

Alex was looking very confident in his S14 in its maiden event since receiving Car Loan 4U sponsorship.

The Acorn Insurance cars definitely looked the part but unfortunately none of the drivers seemed to be having a good time with them on track.

All of the cars seemed quite soft and, while they all had plenty of power, its delivery certainly didn’t seem particularly smooth or consistent which was a real shame.

Jack Tonkin’s awesome S13 was running brilliantly in practice which was very pleasing to see considering how much I’d fallen for it the previous day.

I’m not sure who’s S14a this was but it was very photogenic.

TJ had the closest run in with the gravel trap that I saw all day, coming to a halt just as his rear bumper deflected against the tyre wall.

Shaan Shareef did his best to explore the limits of the Lydden Hill curbing, bending a steering arm in the process.

Ben Manuel in his M3 powered E36 looked fairly comfortable, although the car seemed to struggle on the fast right hander at the top of the hill in his early runs.


A V8 powered FD3S; not the most popular of swaps (both by numbers and also in terms of many feeling that removing an RX’s rotary heart is sacrilege) but it certainly seemed to be going well.

It didn’t matter how this Onevia was doing on track, the paint scheme won me over. It reminded me of the sort of thing that you’d see on the 326 Power stand at Tokyo Auto Salon, a style that more people over here definitely need to try!

It wouldn’t be a UK drift event without a Mk2 Escort.

The gravel trap was a popular destination for many…

Interesting line…!

Awesome one-off wing on Matt Campling’s S13. Didn’t stop him going into the gravel, mind!

Liam Doran’s aforementioned PS13 looked spot on every single lap.

The Semi-Pro and Pro practice sessions were obviously a great watch, but the arrival of the Super-Pros in the pit lane marked the moment that things stepped up a notch.

Steve Moore’s S14a was pretty much unchanged from last season but, in all honesty, why fiddle with it when it was absolutely spot on last year?

Brendan Stone’s S15 in action.

I don’t think I need to heap any more praise upon Wesley Keating’s 180SX so I’ll just leave you with a handful of pictures of it doing what it was built to do.

Phil Morrison was looking very aggresive in the Driftworks R32 that was sporting prototype R-body Geomaster knuckles.

They definitely worked, if that’s what you’re wondering.

Unfortunately, a tyre falling off the rear right wheel resulted in a trip into the gravel trap.

The Low Brain PS13 certainly looked at home on the Lydden circuit; its Wisefab kit working wonders for the big entries expected of the Super-Pros.

Shane Lynch was looking very controlled in the Japspeed V8 S15, the freshly rebuilt turbos giving it a burst of life in comparison t0 its last outing.

He also found himself in front of the BBC cameras filming a segment for an upcoming programme that features the theft of the Japspeed Impreza back in 2011.

While on the subject of Japspeed, Paul Smith was looking remarkably composed in his 1JZ S15; the pre season test day he enjoyed at Lydden a few months ago was definitely not in vain.

Paul’s driving style is so photogenic – smoothness and consistency certainly makes my job much easier!

Barry Leonard was looking on form in his S14a.

Mark Luney was looking well-settled in the Lucas Oil Supra, although engine trouble seemed to be thwarting the team as the day wore on.

On the other hand, Baggsy definitely didn’t look very settled in his freshly built Acorn S13. To be honest though, with the car finished within a day or so of the start of the event and with zero testing having been had, you couldn’t expect much more.

Brett Castle was understandably taking it steady in the Japspeed Impreza but he definitely looked to have the potential to really shine in qualifying.

With practice over it was time for qualifying. Out stepped the Semi-Pros as the dark clouds gathered over the Lydden Hill circuit. Matt managed to get his first run in…

…and then down came the rain.

Toby had been enjoying his first ever BDC championship round in his JZX90 until he put one foot wrong during an initiation and greeted the wall with his rear quarter.

With the track having a strict curfew of 6pm and the bad weather dampening spirits it was decided to postpone Super-Pro qualifying until the following afternoon, instead giving them the option of enjoying some open practice in the wet conditions.

Thanks to a bit of a mix up and a couple of communication break downs Shane O’Sullivan’s car had been sat at Protuner receiving its new ECU and subsequent map until midday on Saturday, so the decision to run an open practice session at the end of the day was a blessing in disguise for him.

With the day’s track action over and done with for the day it was time to gather in scrutineering along with the Car Loan 4U guys and await the confirmation of the Top 16 in Semi-Pro and Pro. Stay tuned for my pictures from Day 3 (Sunday)!

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