Sunday the 21st of February once again saw us all flock to Rayleigh RC in, funnily enough, Rayleigh Essex for the final round of the Rayleigh RC Drift Championship.
A fair few of the regular drivers couldn’t make this event including the ‘Chuck Norris of RC drifting’: Carl ‘Man-Bob’ Hillis, who was in Wigan doing things that probably aren’t appropriate to mention in this blog and Mike Brittle who was in Paris doing things that probably aren’t appropriate to mention in this blog. So I bravely, or stupidly, decided to enter with my D4 now sporting an ABC Hobbies Leopard.
The big day eventually rolled around and plenty of talent turned up. I would be pitted against Craig and Alan from Team DHB, Andy ‘Kingstar’ King, little Ricky and the incredibly handsome Mark Smith amongst others in the field of 12 CS cars and 5 RWD cars. I also signed myself up for judging duties with Darrel and Steve Wellham.
From the get go I was going to be plagued with issues. I thought I was completely out of the running for driving as foolishly I brought DS Racing F3 tyres rather than DS Racing FFF tyres thinking that someone couldn’t be bothered to write F 3 times. It turns out they are a completely different tyre which was spotted by Chris at scrutineering who so eloquently stated “Ya got the wrong tyres Bob!”. Thankfully fellow judge Mr Wellham, who keeps his car in the shop, allowed me to use his wheels and tyres for the day.
Of course that wouldn’t be the end of it. mid way through practise the car started handling funny so I brought it in and had found the metal screw holding the upper arm to the steering knuckle had worn away the thread in the plastic knuckle! Ugh! Thankfully fellow D4 enthusiast Dave Jones lent me some glue to hold the bolt in place. If anyone else has to make this repair I want it referred to as ‘The Davy Jones Locker’ as Dave Jones let me the glue and it locked the bolt in place.
Ok, enough if my terrible puns. After a brief conversation the judges decided a qualifying line:
The cars would leave the start line at the end of the straight in front of the stage and would hug the left hand wall to initiate into the first long right hand bend which had the first clipping point on the outer most wall. They would have have to continue to run a wide line around the next 180 degree right hand bend as the second clipping point, marked by a flag hanging over the track. They would then have to transition and swap walls to score the next clipping point on the outside of a left hand 180. A fast section followed by a sequence of 180 degree bends was next. The first 180 had a ‘hero box’, a clipping point which dirvers would get additional points for hitting, followed by anther rear clipping point on the next bend, followed by a final hero box on the last corner and over the finish line.
Qualifying time! I nervously made my way up to the stage whilst the worlds most underpaid valet, Little Al, positioned my car on the line. Each driver was allowed a practise run and two scored runs. Only Darrel and Steve were to judge qualifying as it made it easier on the maths. ‘Right, it’s been a long time since we’ve done this Dicky, lets not make an idiot of myself’ I thought as my car loudly scraped on the curb of the inside of the first hairpin which completely ruined my line through the fast section. ‘OK’ I thought ‘Now I’ve made an idiot of myself lets put in two save runs so I at least score’. That’s exactly what I did. Two perfectly safe, middle of the road, boring runs. Everyone said they were smooth but it only scored my 10th out of 12 cars which would see my battle Alan Palmer in the top 12.
The battle between myself and Alan was decided at the first hero box. He went wide, I went shallow and had to stop to avoid overtaking him. Clean kill and the less said about it the better.
With my car back at the pits I could now concentrate on judging, which I thoroughly enjoyed! The level of driving at Rayleigh, as always, was exceptional and saw many close battles and a fair few one more times! As a judging team myself, Darrel and Steve did pretty well I think. We didn’t disagree on any of the outcomes of any of the battles.
One thing that hacked me off though was people using the practise tracks while the comp was taking place. As a driver or spectator this probably isn’t really an issue but as a judge it is super f***ing annoying as we can’t hear the cars properly so we can’t determine if anyone was sandbagging. I asked firmly, but politely I thought, a couple of times before Mel took over and put her foot down. Apparently a couple of people argued that the judges don’t have to hear the cars. Well yeah, they do, to determine sand bagging as I said. At Formula Drift the cars all have forward and rear facing brake lights to help the judges decide if a driver was sandbagging as they can’t always hear over the crowd. I’m fairly sure they do in the UK as well but the height of crowd enthusiasm here is “That was pretty sick bruv” “yeah but my mate Dave in his 318is can do better on the roundabout by Asda”. Obviously we can’t expect everyone to run forward facing brake lights to the closer to silence in the room the easier it is to judge. It’s also good sportsmanship to watch your friends and competitors in action
With that rant out the way I quite enjoyed judging and would be happy to do it again. I also got to hand out the prizes!
Craig Hamnett came 3rd in RWDAndy King came 2ndBryan Sebastian came first 🙂
Alan Palmer finished 3rd in CS
Craig Draycott 2ndAndy King 1st!!
Bryan took the overall points championship in CS and took home an awesome looking Pandora JZX110
All in all, I had a great day. Thanks Chris and Mel for hosting us, thanks to Steve and Darrel for being awesome judges, thanks to all the drivers for putting on a great show and thanks to all of you for reading!
See you all again on Thursday!