King of the Ring 2018: Round 1

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As the longest running series of posts on this blog I really enjoy reporting on the King of the Ring events. Not only are they fantastic events to go to but a lot of the people reading now will be repeat readers, so I can experiment with different writing styles and ideas and get your feedback on it, which is great!

Today, I’m going to try to break up my paragraphs a little more. If I can keep the paragraphs to 4-5 lines on PC then it might break up the walls of texts for mobile users. If you are reading this on mobile, let me know if this format works!

We’re starting the season a little late this year. The first round was due to be on March 3rd but due to heavy snows it was postponed to April 7th.

There have been a couple of notable changes in the rules. The most important of which is the addition of LED brake light strips to the top of the front and rear windows. These will allow the judges to see exactly when the lead car is on and off the brakes all the way around the track and will hopefully prevent brake checking. Even after one round the judges have agreed that they should have been brought into place ages ago.

Being the start of the season there were plenty of new builds. Having not secured a place in Drift Cup Johnny Smith sold his competition compact to return in a King of the Ring compact.

He has some work he wants to do to it including Willspeed hubs and arms for extra lock but in my opinion it looked like it was going really well. The Borbets are up for sale which is a shame as I think they really suit it.

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This left hand drive E36 caught my eye. It’s the first time to my recollection that I’ve seen a LHD car at King of the Ring.

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Nerijus was back out in the mighty yellow Skyline. This is such a unique car to the series and looks really good going round.

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Hollie Kidney was back in the Drift-It 300ZX.

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Marc Gilbey was back out in the E46 compact.

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This chap was going around really well! I like the livery too! Hoping to see more of him in future rounds.

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Of course the MAPT Motorsport guys were present and doing their thing. Jon Hudd has picked up a sponsorship from Zestino Tyres which I believe makes him the first KOTR driver to actually be sponsored by a tyre manufacturer. Fantastic news for him of course but also fantastic news for the series as hopefully it’ll draw other manufacturers in.

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Tom Frewin-Clarke’s new compact is looking good. I was surprised when he said he was going to use it for arena when I saw him at Rockingham. The cage work looks really good!

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Paul Parnell’s car is lurking in the background. He got creative with the LED strips and made a Knight Rider light. Thankfully, the car hasn’t started talking to me yet.

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Team HD also made their return which was nice to see. Normally it’s just Alex Mackenzie flying their flag with the E46 Estate, but they brought three cars out this time.

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I actually put my hand up to apologise to this anonymous mask when I took the above photo of the car. I thought it was a real person haha!

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The man I’d really like to mention in this particular blog post is Rhys Gamble. Rhys is an ex BDC driver who does King of the Ring for fun in his 328i coupe.

He took me out for a few laps and it proved be a really interesting ride! He’s super approachable and enjoys taking passengers out so if you are learning to drift Arena I’d highly recommend going out with him as I think you’d learn a lot I certainly did!

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He also has really funky seats!

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His driving style is quite unusual and he does a couple of things that I’ve not seen before. He initiates by feinting towards the wall before flicking the car the other way, which in itself isn’t that unusual but he is super fast and committed! For the first time as a passenger at Arena I’ve sort of tensed up expecting to hit the wall haha!

The interesting bit is what follows after initiation though. He uses quite small inputs on the throttle and steering to adjust the yaw of the car and then hovers his foot over the left brake, gently pressing it at times to balance the pitch and roll of the car as it progresses through the corner. It’s a very clever way of controlling the car mid drift and as a passenger gives you a super smooth experience as by making these small, constant inputs he never seems to have to make any big corrections.

By having the commitment in initiation and control thereafter also means he can run super close to the wall. In retrospect I should have taken a video I hope these pictures are able to demonstrate his proximity.

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As you go round you can hear the car scraping against the wall in places and tapping those cones. He’s able to do that lap after lap and somehow hasn’t pushed his bumper in or done any more major damage.

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Like I say though, if you’re still learning or starting out at KOTR I highly recommend asking him to take you out for a run. You’ll learn a lot and it’ll be awesome to get some more drivers up to that level.

Now, let’s have a break from drifting to talk about the show and shine. Once again Dirtee South organised a really varied group for the show and shine. They also brought out their own stall selling stickers and t-shirts. Dirtee South have also launched a line of car cleaning products called Dirtee Detailing which is sponsoring the King of the Ring competition.

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To demonstrate the range of vehicles Dirtee South bring out we’ll take a wander to the gantry behind the turnstiles where the crowds enter the arena.

Firstly, we have this near standard Sierra estate. This car is a 1.8 turbo diesel and is one of only three surviving cars. It’s used regularly too!

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Parked next to it was a Mk4 Fiesta which is a nice throw back to the Max Power era of modification. This style of car isn’t to everyone’s taste but a show car is kind of like a rolling piece of art; the car should represent the builder’s tastes and if that’s not everyone else’s taste then that’s ok! I for one find it quite refreshing!

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On the other side of the Sierra we have a more modern styled Mk7 Fiesta. These are really popular cars at the moment.

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There was also a track day Honda Civic. People have built some crazy track cars out of Hondas. It’s another scene I’d really like to cover in this blog.

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The Germans were also represented here by this slammed E46 compact and Mk4 Golf.

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The majority of the show and shine is behind the clubhouse. The first car we came across was this super wide Mk2 MX5. I’ve seen a fair few Mk1s with bolt on overfenders but never a Mk2. They suit it!

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Opposite that was a nice original, manual, S13 200sx. If it was mine I think I’d want to put some original Nissan wheels on it but it’s a nice car either way! A good investment!

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I never thought I’d see one of these Citroens modified. Just shows the variety in the car scene!

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The VRS Skoda Felicia is a cool little car. I’d imagine that their quite rare; it’s an unusual platform to get the hot hatch treatment.

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This is a nicely done Mk7:

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1980s BMWs are by far the best generation the marquee has had. E30 3-Series are awesome as are the E34 5 Series, E32 7 Series, E24 6 Series and of course the original 8 series.

This E34 is really tastefully modified. A BMW is this era is most certainly on my bucket list!

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Subaru BRZ. The rarer cousin of the Toyota GT86. This colour is the best that they came in:

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I think this Saxo was in Fast Car magazine a few years back. It’s an incredibly clean build! The blue looks really nice with the cream interior. There’s been some serious time invested in this little car!

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Being a drift event there were of course plenty of E36s and E46s on the show and shine:

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I always wanted these 5 spoke Pentas for my W124.

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They were joined by this stunning E30 cabriolet. The white with red interior looked fantastic!

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Parked next to that was this lovely Ford F150:

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That wasn’t the only Ford truck present though. On the far side was this P100. I had a chat with the owner and he has big plans for this car!

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Then up the top by the clubhouse was the Monster Energy truck. As a sponsor of the series they come along to give out samples of their range.

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Next to them were the Essex Fire Department who were there raising road safety awareness.

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The front of the clubhouse is also where the best cars from the Dirtee South Show and Shine are presented.

First up was this Toyota JZX110. A rare car made even more unusual by a manual conversion!

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This Golf was absolutely stunning! Another really clean build!

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It was the Mk1 Escort that stole my heart though. I’m not sure if it’s an original Mexico shell but the bulbous arches have been really nicely recreated. The car also featured a Cosworth inline 4 and Sierra 5 speed gearbox. Lovely build!

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Next to it was a very aggressive looking S13 200sx.  I’d still like one of these!

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Finally on the Dirtee South Show and Shine we have a Mk1 Focus RS. These are rocketing in price now and can be built to have crazy power!

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At the end of the club house was the Final Form stand.  The stand house’s Luke’s DJ stand whilst Warren and Co handle the sticker sales. Final Form make numerous stickers of their own designs. They make single layer vinyls and slaps that consist of four of five layers. They’ve also had some printed stickers made which are really high quality!

It’s the quality that separate Final Form from other sticker companies. They have some really unusual materials that you won’t find anywhere else. My personal favourite is their, for want of a better phrase, gold leaf material. It’s obviously gold in colour and has a sort of leaf vein looking pattern weaved into it. It’s very smart! I’d love to see some T-Shirts with a similar style.

Their cars are ok too!

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I snuck into their gazebo a little bit later to hang out. I felt like one of those cool people in music videos that hang out behind the DJ. Just lacking the bright lights, alcohol and scantily clad young ladies. Maybe next round!

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Speaking of DJs and music the Propper Droppers sound off competition was back and had attracted quite a few new cars.

This olive drab Corsa van would make a fun daily.

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The other two cars up there that particularly jumped out at me were this Evo and 528 BMW:

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Back on track I was able to get up behind the track’s entrance gate to get some photos in qualifying.

Here we have Alex Mackenzie running the wall:

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Along with his team mate in the Team HD compact:

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Then it was time for that group to come off track to allow the next lot on. We got a few waves!

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Peter Spinks’ E36 estate went round well. It’s a lovely colour!

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I also have a video of his second qualifying lap:

The next car to qualify was his wife:

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A couple more different cars:

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Paul Parnell got nice and close to the wall this run. You can just about see the Knight Rider light in the first couple of pics. I’m not sure if he was sporting a perm and leather jacket in the car.

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Here we have Tom’s compact:

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James Emerson’s RX8 took a nasty hit to the rear in his first qualifying run. the second run went better though.

Funnily enough Luke was playing Big Shaq’s Mans Not Hot as this car was going round. Everyone knows that at full chat Mazda rotary motors go skrraahhh, pap, pap, ka ka ka, skidikki pap pap etc etc.

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Hollie Kidney had a knock in her first qualifying run tapping her exhaust out of place. The second run just wan’t quite right. A shame as the car had been going well throughout the afternoon.

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Finally, we have Nerijus’ Skyline. It just looks fantastic on track!

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Now I know I promised a break down of the battles but I did end up talking to some people and missed quite a few battles. I don’t think not covering the battle detracts from this article though. There’s plenty of pictures and was nice to be able to do a proper spotlight feature on Dirtee South and Final Form.

The next round is on the 5th May and I hope to see you all there!

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By Richard Francis

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