With less than 2 weeks to go until Round 1 of the 2018 British Drift Championship, there’s no better time than now, to take a look at the 11 drivers who will be taking their first steps in the championship’s Pro class in 2018.
You might be wondering where the figure of 11 drivers has come from? Well at the end of the 2017 season, 5 drivers made the jump up and joined the Pro grid through finishing in the Top 5 of the Pro-Am class. However, upon further review of the current driver grid prior to the start of the 2018 season, a further 6 drivers have received and accepted invitations to join the BDC Pro class, further heating up the top flight of UK drifting and of course, the competition for the 2018 BDC Pro class title crown.
So without further ado, let’s dive right into the list!
What better way to kick start the list than with your 2017 BDC Pro-Am Champion, Scott Cartledge.
Cartledge topped off a devastatingly consistent 2017 season by taking the top spot on the podium at Round 5, the Night Fight at Teesside Autodrome, shortly after clinching his championship title in the Final 4. Cartledge has been testing a brand new build for 2018 and if he can continue on his form this season, he will certainly be one to watch.
He may be one of the nicest guys on the grid, but get Matt Denham behind the wheel of his now V8 turbo-powered RX8 and he transforms into another animal altogether. With only 2 weeks to go until Round 1, Denham is set to release big plans for the year ahead and it certainly going to mix things up at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
Peter Hayden and his BMW E36 compact certainly showed all throughout 2017 that you don’t need all the budget under the sun to run a competitive programme in BDC. Hayden’s consistent and pin-point line accuracy made him a favourite with the judges and pushed him up against the biggest and best names in drifting last season.
Hayden was never going to go conventional with his car choice as he stepped up into Pro, so a Nissan Laurel C32 with a BMW V8 power plant with over 400hp will be his chariot of choice for the 2018 BDC season.
Brett Perry will now join his father Simon in BDC Pro in 2018. Brett showed moments of brilliance last season, taking the top spot at the NEC for Round 3, where he well and truly showed that he can step up to Pro and keep up with the big boys. In 2017, we saw father and son go head-to-head in Pro practice, but with a championship on the line, we can’t wait to see these 2 put it all on the line out on the track.
One man that shocked the Pro-Am grid in 2017 was Maciej Hawrysz and his 323 BMW E36. In the day and age of skyrocketing power numbers, Maciej fought the horsepower war and won, ending the season in 5th position and securing that precious BDC Pro license.
The V8 PS13 of Nathan Chivers finished in 6th position in the 2017 Pro-Am championship, just missing out on a Pro license at the end of 2017. Now, however, Nathan will get his chance to make his mark in the Pro class.
Chivers has previously loaned out his car to fellow BDC competitor Conor Shanahan, ruling himself out of competition, but you won’t see that happening this season as he makes a charge for the Pro podium.
Martin Wonnacott’s insane JZX100 has seen a full refresh for the 2018 season and is looking better than ever. Despite the new look, Wonnacott isn’t afraid to get some battle scars, so expect some of the best door-on-door action all season, and that suits him perfectly with more doors than most of the grid.
Mike Walton, the boss at Walton Motorsport, is ecstatic to be making the jump to Pro. One of the veterans of British drifting, both on and off track, Mike has now turned his attention to his own program and has been huddled away in the off-season rebuilding an insane 2JZ for his Rocket Bunny Walton Motorsport 180SX. This car and driver combination is definitely going to be one to watch!
Team Slide Motorsport are coming in hot for 2018, as Jason Clark now joins teammates Matt Stevenson and Adam Simmons in the Pro class, with Stu Jones taking charge in DriftCup, the BDC’s official feeder series.
With some pre-season testing now done and Jason delighted with the car’s performance, can he put it up to the rest of the grid? Come along and find out.
A man that found his feet late on in the season was Mark Gemmell. Round 4 at Driftland was a standout event, where he would qualify 2nd and take 3rd spot on the podium, before putting the cherry on top of his weekend, by qualifying for the Pro Top 16 on Sunday, as well as battling and winning the team drift competition.
Midnight Motorsport driver Lee Barker is heading for Pro and will take his immaculate more-door Skyline R34 into the biggest test of his career. Barker kick-started 2017 with a Pro-Am podium at Rockingham Motor Speedway. can he do the same on March 31st and April 1st?
So with the Pro grid more stacked than ever, who do you think will reign supreme come April 1st? Will it be an old-school veteran of UK drifting? Will we see an unknown storm the fort and take the top spot, in a similar fashion to last season at Rockingham Motor Speedway? Find out for yourself at BDC Round 1 on March 31st & April 1st.