With the 2012 BDC season over and the 2013 season on the horizon the time had come for us to hold one of our ever-popular Licensing Days. The British Drift Championship Licensing Days give drivers the chance to wow the judges with their car control, technique and all round ability with the hope of gaining a license to compete in the upcoming season. The days are also very popular with drivers who already have licenses but who are hoping to impress the judges all over again with the hope of moving up a rank in the BDC licensing structure (Semi-Pro, Pro and Super-Pro are the licenses available).
On Saturday 3rd November, 64 drivers descended on the Lydden Hill circuit in Kent, all with the hope of having a successful day in order to come home with a much coveted BDC license. The day started off with three practice sessions and, due to the changeable weather conditions, it was clear that things weren’t going to be easy for the drivers.
The track was still wet when the first practice session got underway, and for those who hadn’t driven the Lydden Hill circuit before it made for some tentative laps until the drivers found their groove.
By the second session the sun had come out and the track had started to dry out in places. Unfortunately, some areas of the judged layout remained in the shade due to the surrounding trees and this meant that they stayed damp. This made for an interesting challenge for the drivers as in many cases their entry speeds (on dry parts of the circuit) were far too fast for the damp sections. There were quite a few spins and offs at this point, but it was all part of the learning curve and soon enough everyone had adjusted their technique to suit.
By the third session the circuit was pretty much bone dry and it was at this point that the drivers really started to get into their groove. Despite some struggling with mechanical niggles it was really great to see so many well prepared and presented cars had turned up to take part, with the judges making a point of how much the standard of cars and drivers has improved over the years since the first Licensing Days a few years ago.
The nerves really began to show once the qualifying runs got underway, and it was here that a number of drivers started to crack under the pressure.
With only three qualifying runs to make it count (just like qualifying is at a real BDC round) the drivers had to ensure they got every entry and exit spot on, all while maintaining good speed and getting as close as possible to the designated clipping points.
While some were thwarted by mechanical gremlins and others struggled to meet all of the judges’ criteria, the best drivers rose to the top with some fantastic displays of car control, discipline and technique. These runs were duly noted by the judges, and by the end of the day 11 Semi-Pro licenses had been handed out, while 7 Pro licenses were awarded.
Ricky Emery was one such driver who was awarded a Pro license, impressing the judges sufficiently to upgrade his license having spent the season competing in Semi-Pro. Going into the last round of this year’s championship Ricky was actually in a position to be automatically promoted to the Pro class, but a gear box failure brought his championship campaign to a premature end. However, by taking advantage of the Licensing Day, he still managed to get the promotion that he craved.
Dan Firmager was another driver who was awarded a Pro license, although in his case he hadn’t previously held a BDC license of any kind. The skill Dan showed behind the wheel of his Clio engined Volvo 340 impressed the judges so much that they automatically awarded him a Pro license, which was a very popular decision considering that at Dan’s last licensing day a snapped cam pulley destroyed his engine. He’s been waiting patiently since March to have another crack at getting a BDC license and we’re all very glad that it worked out for him this time round.
Once the qualifying runs had been completed the track was opened for free practice and it was here that, with no pressure and a full day’s experience of the track under their belts, a number of drivers really started to impress. Unfortunately though it was too little too late for some as the qualifying runs had been and gone, but for many it was a graphic example of what can happen to a driver when faced with nerves and pressure. Those that can handle the pressure are the drivers that will go far in a competition environment, and we look forward to seeing these drivers up against some of the more established drivers at next year’s championship rounds.
Semi-Pro License Awardees:
Pro License Awardees:
All photos taken by Ian Blackett (http://blackettphotography.com/)