Published on September 18th, 2014 | by Jos Roder0
Drifting, like Motorsport in general, has the incredible ability of amazing highs and dramatic lows. I experienced what felt like two parallel universes at the same time, one of struggle, the other of reward.
I had not drifted in Australia since the Victorian Drift Championship final round in September 2013 so I was keen to get back out amongst the local scene and my drift friends. I prepared my car for the weekend in a previous article.
The plan was to arrive early Saturday, wash the car (it had been outside for an entire year), then rattle can spray the rough rear quarter panels in black and generally tidy things up before the day started. Unfortunately I was already way too far ahead of myself. After a decade of drifting, I should have known better. You have to actually arrive at the track first. And at 6.05am on the side of the road, that was not looking likely.
I was using a friend’s dual axle car trailer that he had kindly lent me. Unbeknownst to me, a bolt on the mount holding the leaf suspension to the right hand front axle had removed itself under the load. The right side of the forward axle was floating in effect and had changed the geometry and had pushed back toward the second axle. This resulted in both right side tyres connecting and rubbing together, which had created smoke and alerted me to the issue nearly straight away. I pulled over only about 4km from home on the side of a quiet suburban road. If I hadn’t noticed the smoke,both right hand side tyres would have blown out….on the freeway.
I’m certainly no mechanical expert but with the possibility of missing out on drift time as my motivator, I pushed hard to find a solution. Luckily it wasn’t as complicated or difficult as I had anticipated (which is a rare occurrence) however it still required my wife bringing bolts and a trip to Bunnings at 7am when they opened, plus some hammering and jacking to re attach the leaf to the mount. After about two hours in repair mode, i was back underway and heading to Calder.
I had entered the Saturday practice day primarily to get re acquainted with the car after a year off and also share the drifting experience with my boss and some family and friends via a ride in the passenger seat.
Drifting the national circuit layout at Calder is great fun and there is plenty of different sections and speeds to practice.
The entry down the front straight into the tight right hander is fantastic fun and even if you get it wrong, there is plenty of run off.
I continued taking passengers throughout the day and even practiced a few 360’s when i had some space behind me.
It was about 4pm while running the wall I clutched 3rd gear as normal to keep tyre speed up and as i released the clutch, lots of metal clanging and a free rev occurred. Despite never blowing a gearbox over my years drifting, i instantly knew what had happened. I searched for other gears and luckily everything else seemed to be there so I limped back to the pits with the lovely sound of metal continuing a war path of destruction, or so I thought.
Back in the pits I was a little dejected, as I knew it was going to be more money, time and effort to get a new gearbox re installed and that my weekend was over… with Sunday’s VicDrift Round 5 now looking out of the question.
After going through my options with some of the guys, I ruled out a long night towing my car somewhere, finding a gearbox, installing it with no sleep and then returning the next morning with it untested. I just couldn’t be bothered. With the gearbox needing to be replaced anyway, I decided I would attempt using 2nd and 4th gears and hope the metal had all attracted to the magnet at the bottom!
Luckily, at the end of Saturday I assisted the judges test new layout options for Sunday’s competition and was able to trial the long gap between 2nd and 4th gears. I thought i could get away without third if the box could hang together. My fingers were crossed because I enjoyed the chosen new layout and hoped I would have the chance to compete.
The new layout the judges decided on gave more flow to the course and is in a great location for the crowds to view the action.
Sunday was battle day. Round 5 of the Roadking Chassis Victorian Drift Championship.
It was great to see a few drivers from interstate, including Kelly Wong from Adelaide and a real treat for Victorian drift fans was having Beau Yates attend in his spectacular Wynn’s FT-86.
Sunday morning I was experimenting with the limits of the new course and the last clipping point. I found the limit….and the wall. Incredibly, this is the second hit to the right corner and the tail light refuses to break. It is made of unobtanium for sure. The pool noodle guys who came to encourage wall taps, were quite happy with my hit. Me not so much.
I always enjoy qualifying and was quietly confident I could put in at least one respectable run and aimed for a top 10 result.
My practice run was surprisingly good from the drivers seat and after the run I thought to myself why it couldn’t have been my first qualifying run! Do any other driver’s think this?
I had two shots at getting the course nailed and i felt my second qualifying lap followed the clips well and I would hopefully crack the top 10.
With a bye in the Top 32, I was up against Moe Elhaouli in the blue SlideWorx V8 S13. Moe is a great driver so the pressure was on to just drive cleanly and see how I fared.
In my lead run I could hear Moe’s car screaming close behind and despite me not quite on Moe’s bumper in the chase we were told to re-run. So off we went again. This time I just hit my marks and tried the best I could. Luckily I was given the win. Thanks to Moe for the fun battles.
Top 8 I was against another V8 S13 and Thomas Sabo. This machine only had 460kw’s ATW’s! Unfortunately for me, Sabo put on a skilled chase run and I couldn’t quite keep up on the lead run, so my day had come to an end.
Beau Yates ended up showing us Victorian’s how it’s done with a win over Michael Prosenik in the final. Prosenik would not go home disappointed though, as he was awarded the 2014 VicDrift Championship title for the second year in a row. Congrats to Beau and Michael.
I ended up finishing 5th for the day after qualifying 4th. I was somewhat fortunate to get a bye in the first run and to get the win over Moe, however I was happy with my performance given my third gear was in a million pieces. Most importantly I loved every minute of the event.
I have to thank Vincent from Vinny’s Part’s for his support, Waz at Garage Low for keeping my car ‘driftable’, Donny and Scott at Forced MotorWorx, my Boss Dale for lending me the tow car, my dad for his assistance over the weekend, Geoff for the trailer and all the VicDrift crew, officials, media. drivers and spectators that make our little Victorian drift series something special.
2015 is going to look a little different for me drifting wise hopefully. Stay tuned.