Drift matsuri is one of the very few events in the drift calendar that makes me believe that drifting in Britain still has some connection & parallels with the kind of events that take place in the motherland of our chosen pastime. Open tracks, the widest range of driving talents i have ever seen, an insane mix of cars and a shitload of seat time.
I'm lucky enough for it to be held once a year on a circuit a few miles away from where I grew up, and not too far away from where I currently live.
The circuit is divided up into 3 tracks: the ‘Practice Hairpin’, the ‘Touge Track’ (part of the coastal circuit, also known as Hill / Mountain track) and the ‘Fast Track’ (Club Circuit). Each one has their pros and cons, but either way all of them are excellent fun and it’s definitely worth spending time on all of them over the Matsuri weekend. Here’s a brief insight into the chosen configurations.
The Hairpin is an area of the circuit which, for sure, is under used. It has no tyres lining the track and allows you to really test the limits of your ability and car setup with minimal risk. I tested out the car here before moving on to the other tracks!
My personal favourite is the Coastal; in particular the section from the start line up to the back straight. From the first drift day held at the circuit (around 2013), I have always said that section of track is one of the best sections of track in the UK, and I feel there is some potential here for a great competition layout.
The layout provides a challenge for all drivers and car set ups, and there are a number of lines to be taken, dependant on your style. My personal favourite is to attack the Hill Section with as much speed as possible throwing the car over the crest already sideways using as much angle as possible to slow the car down for a solid 3rd gear pull onto the back straight. Which is what I have been working on in the previous years.
The Coastal Circuit continues onto a tight 180 hairpin left and a 90 degree right to finish. This brings you back around to the start line queue, with the option to hit the pits for a fresh set of rubber or move onto the Fast Drift Circuit (Club Circuit).
Unfortunately Matsuri for me didn’t go to plan and I only managed a couple of passes up the hill in somewhat sketchy & patchy conditions, trying to get used to a new set up with a poorly car.
I have put together a little video of one of the last runs before I had to call it a day. This pass over the hill has a little extra manji on the climb up the hill than I would normally like to do. However, it was still fun and I seemed to be getting some accuracy on the line after a few sketchy runs. While getting used to the rebuilt S14, I was happy tagging a few nice rear clips.
The Fast Circuit is basically 3 corners, a fast 90 degree left onto a strait and into a banked 180 degree right into a large 4th gear (in your 300bhp Stock SR20DET and SR Gear Box) 90 degree right. This course is a challenge, and to do it well requires some serious commitment. The first straight is linkable with a huge transition, or even with a single manji, which if you're progressing from Manjis working onto a transition gradually increasing the speed and commitment, the feeling of nailing it is amazing. However, a lot of dudes think that the aim is to get as many manjis per straight as possible, after all you can do what you like, but it does mean that it can get tricky at times (Although personally for me 6 manjis per straight is a waste of speed and tyres).
The 180 degree hairpin is deceiving as the bank means you can hit it with way more speed than you think, the following straight again is about maintaining speed and getting your initiation for the fastest corner timed right for maximum angle and speed.
The event has a really chilled vibe and the fact it’s a 2 day event really removes a lot of the pressure you would get on a practice day, the seat time was great and some of the drift train lengths were into double figures.
The weekend didn't come without its casualties this kind of event takes its toll on cars if not mechanically then certainly aesthetically and it wasn't just the grassroots guys, some of the Pro level drivers see this as the last event of the year so quite often like to see it off with an actual bang.
One guy keeping a lot of the drivers on tack, either with repairs, recovery or even getting parts shipped to the track throughout the weekend was Hywel Rosenthal. He is the MD of local garage Race Day Developments (RDD) with the help of his mechanic Olly had a busy weekend repairing drift cars. Some of you will know that RDD have sponsored me over the last few years, but this weekend Hywel was kept busy by not just myself but many other drivers. Just the few times I managed to catch up with him he was welding lower arms, hubs, steering racks! There are a few people missing from this list but a run down of the people i can remember he has helped in one way or another are: Marc Huxley, Ryan lawrence, Adam Agatowski, Sid Crowfoot, Stuart Roy, Nat Younger, Chris Bate, Hayden Jones, Jesse Ashley on behalf myself and all the people he helped I think he is definitely worthy of some thanks!
This year the night fight for me was not quite as good as the previous 2 years (2014 was a full BDC level comp ran on the BDC circuit which was ruled by a fantastic drive by James Deane. 2015 was an insane open pit session on the fast track in the dark which I was lucky enough to drive in). This year saw the return of competition format on the reverse of the BDC layout and then continued around to the back of the circuit. For me it was too spread out and not as focused as when the BDC layout is used (especially from the spectators point of view). That said, people doing insane drifts in the dark is never a bad thing!
The following day, drifts resumed, albeit with a few sore heads after the ‘Party In The Pits’ (featuring a questionable DJ). The chilled vibe continued and the seat time was phenomenal, unfortunately still sitting out the day with the car not 100%, I took time to spectate from some of the more remote parts of the circuit, the coastal and mountainous views are spectacular and well worth the 15 minute walk up the hill.
Probably the highlight of the weekend was getting a few laps out with TJ Berney and the Irish guys. There’s no reason for me to hide the fact I have huge respect for TJ, the guy bossed the IDC Pro Am in a car not much higher spec than my own, here are a few clips from the laps I got with him, including a classic drift save moment!
Drift Matsuri has never disappointed and this one was no different, as a driver a spectator and a drift fanatic Matsuri's are here to stay, my only hope is they become more common, less oversubscribed and sensationalised and be about drivers getting out on track together!
Til’ next time, as always check out these useful links, and take it easy!
- All photos this issue by FJ photography
- Joe Ankers
- Drift Matsuri
- Previous Blog Issues