22 John Street, St.Albans Melbourne // Level 2, 15 McKillop Street, CBD Melbourne

Vicdrift Championship Round 5

6am seems to have a particular smell.  I’m not sure if it’s due to the condensation formed overnight, the slightly fresher and less polluted oxygen in the air, or just straight up sleep deprived delusion. Either way, I like it and today was no exception.

calder

Driving into an empty Calder park is probably not something that too many people would experience. It’s funny how quickly this place goes from a ghost town to absolute chaos. 35+ drivers roll in with loaded trailers and start firing up cars to head over for scrutineering.

Away from the ruckus and smell of cold e85, I still had a lot to do on the setup side of things. Through my increased involvement with Vicdrift over the course of the season I’ve come to understand just how much time, energy (and of course money), goes into making these days happen. I don’t think people understand the full extent of what goes on behind the scenes. 

brief

The track layout for this round was a first for competitive drifting, so drivers nerves were definitely present. With that in mind, the judges replaced the usual sit down drivers briefing for a full walk around the course. This gave everyone a real look at the road surface and very deceiving inclines, instead of the normal squiggles on the whiteboard.

As 9am hit, the gates opened for the already queuing spectators and the first of 2 open practices for drivers began. You would think that this is where people would get some half throttle laps in to feel the flow and get used to the layout… this was far from the case. Drivers were straight into it, and the complexity of the layout began to show its evil side.

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With most of commentary area and spectator signs under control, this gave me a chance to prepare some last minute decals. I had an idea to change things up on Daniel Shalders (Choppa), Black R33. Just as i was finishing up however, I got word from his girlfriend (Lucy) that a ripple strip had already claimed his tie rod, and his car was out of action.

The best thing about living so close to calder park is Choppa was able to race home, pull a spare rod out of his girlfriends R33 (what is love), and slap it back in his car in time to continue driving the initial 90 minute practice.

Photo by Lucy Merlo

Replacing steering and suspension arms on the fly and under pressure has become Choppas bread and butter. An art which he has easily perfected due to his aggressive driving style and ‘ZERO FSCKS GIVEN’ attitude. Props Chop!

Unfortunately Choppa wasn’t the only one having dramas. A collision between team mates Catherine May and Warwick Fitzgerald had left Cat with unrepairable dramas.

Throughout the remainder of the first practice and the conclusion of the second, there were more to the injured list, leaving many to use borrowed cars in qualifying.

This is the sort of thing i love about this sport. Most of these guys are not just competitors, they are mates. This showing all too well by the amount of borrowed cars like musical chairs, just to allow people to qualify and have more time to repair their own cars.

With the current lead in the championship leading into this last round, Michael Prosenik surprised nobody with his he smooth, consistent runs. While many were still struggling to get a grip on the difficult layout, Pros always seems to make things look way too easy. The final qualifying results were as follows:

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As a battle tree was being formed, down on the spectator hill, a large crowd was as well. All week I had been checking my phone to see what sort of weather Melbourne was going to throw at us. Problem is, you can never really trust a forecast in this town until at least the night before. Luck was on our side, and it really is one of the biggest contributors to this being such an amazing day.

Photo By Mitch Smith

Bevin Atanasovski had his competition debut at round 5 in his JZ Cressida and after struggling to get a handle on his car in qualifying, he was paired up against Thomas Sabo in top 32. Thomas Sabo in his supercharged LS3 s13 is a mean, white and green, intimidation machine. Not only is it louder and low, but he is one of the greatest chase drivers you will see in this competition. Bevin held himself exceptionally well through these battles and the ability to keep calm under pressure is something a lot of drivers struggle with. With this in mind I believe he will be a great young gun to watch in the 2016 season. Onya Bev !

Photo by Mark Row

Trying to cover all the battles throughout the day is something I’ll leave to the skilful hands Taylor Wright who is producing the video for this round. Stay tuned for it because i know it’s going to blow your socks off. For those who havn’t already seen it, here is the video from round 4 by Media Now: https://vimeo.com/139450454

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Photo By Mitch Smith

Matt Dowdell is another fresh face in the competition series and it is great to see more people throwing themselves in the deep end and giving it a go. Not only do you find your driving will progress a lot more than any practice day, but everyone I’v spoken to afterwards have said how it is the best fun they have had. This is what its all about fellas!!!

 

Photo by Jayden Ostwald

Jason Ferron and his newly 1jz powered r31 wagon were no stranger to issues and he nearly didn’t make it to this competition. Late nights and hard work paid off as he managed to get his car sorted in time for the weekend. Jason knocked out Choppa in the top 32 but was then faced off with Prosenik in top 16 where Proz was mowing through competitors on his one way mission to the finals.

 

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Photo by Jayden Ostwald

The chaos that unfolded on the journey to the final 4 is not something i could possibly describe via print media, but many left the track in pieces and even on the back of a flat bed. Eventually the final 4 were left and its during this time when i really start to wonder how the hell the judges are able to do what they do.

Trying to decide a winner between 2 runs where errors can only be picked on a slight path off line or spotting a cars proximity to a clipping point from the top of a grassy hill is nothing short of superhuman. Not to mention dealing with people constantly criticising their decisions wether it be from one-sided blindness or limited knowledge of the judging structure. Once again I will leave the play by play to the upcoming round 5 video in an effort to keep this from turning into a lord of the ring novel.

The final results were as follows:

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With final championship points being so close, it didn’t take much for Khudar to replace Prosenik as 1st on the ladder and therefor being the Round 5 winner and the 2015 overall champion.

The drivers hoped on the last minute built podium, (built by Rowan Nash, shoutoutssss brotherrr), and what better way to cool off after a day of nerve racking, panel rubbing, tyre chalking and car destroying fun…. CHAMPAGNE SHOWERS!!!!

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Photo by Jayden Ostwald

As you can see on the left, I think i wasted all my energy shaking up everyone else’s bottles before giving them all out that I forgot to rattle my own. A much anticipated cork pop was replaced by a very depressing dribble. The kind of thing you’d see from a retired scotsman with a urinary tract infection. None the less i still managed to walk away wet, sticky and far from refreshed and hydrated.

Being involved with Vicdrift over the last year and recently joining the guys on the board of the club has been a tiring and challenging, yet rewarding and unbelievably enjoyable experience. I look forward to everything the future brings with this great group of people and hope to see everyone reading this at one of our upcoming events. Be sure to follow @vicdrift on Instagram and facebook.com/vicdrift for all the news and updates on everything going on with the club. Keep an eye out for the upcoming round 5 video which will sum out this action filled day and hell of a lot better than i have.

Thank you to everyone who made this day possible. I would be doubling my word count if i tried to mention everyone, you all know who you are. Thanks to the drivers for putting on an amazing show time and time again, and thanks to all the spectators who, without you, we would be a bunch of clowns in a worn down field doing stunts in cars whilst yelling and carrying on.

 

– Jimmy Chinga

 

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