Flatout Factory on the podium at Drift Cup!!
Round 3 of the Drift Cup competition was held at Lydden Hill race circuit on October 11th 2014. The competition is made up of two classes, the Cup class and the Street class, the latter in which all cars must be road legal to enter.
Tom Hutchison is still in the process of building a new competition car but having a burning desire to get back into the seat of competitive drifting before the end of this season he decided to take one of the Flatout Factory drift school cars down to Lydden Hill for the event!
Some of the team thought this was a bold move,! Tom would have only a very basic car for the competition along with having never driven the circuit before, knowing that he would be up against much more powerful cars and venue regulars, everyone in the FF camp knew that he would have to take his 'A' game with him. The little BMW E36 Compact is normally used for pupils on the intensive drift training courses as a training car or for providing 'hot lap' passenger rides. Having been fitted with the engine from one of its larger brothers, an E36 Coupe, the 2.8 engine is stock but produces around 190 bhp at the flywheel, coupled with some suspension modifications and weight reduction along with the safety features required for competition, Tom felt that this would be enough to be competitive at the event.
The morning practice didn't go well at all. The subframe bushes on the car decided that they didn't want to play ball today, becoming unattached from the mounting points. The FF team mechanic, Steve Smith along with Tom and the rest of the team worked hard to engineer a solution track side to get them out on track for some much needed sighting and practice runs before qualifying. Their efforts were successful and they managed to secure the subframe ready for Tom to attack the track.
The weather conditions were terrible, there had been torrential rain for much of the night and it was continuing into the morning sessions. Rivers were appearing across the track and paddock area making for some very interesting driving conditions!! Tom headed to the track and took his place in the queue for is first ever run at the venue!
After a safe and steady run around the track Tom knew that due to the delays in fixing the car that morning he would only get a couple more practice runs before qualifying so chose to follow some of the cars he was competing against in a twin drift format to watch their lines and get a gauge of their speed, including Flatout Factory Team mate, Frazer Jamieson who was also competing in the Street class.
A short break was enforced at the venue between practice and qualifying, this gave the team a chance to check over the car and then Tom was straight back out, first in the queue ready to go for qualifying! Tom planned to put in some safe runs, with a field of 25 competitors he just wanted to ensure that he managed a top 16 place for the afternoon battle finals. Disaster struck on the entry to the first corner on the first run, the temporary repair to the subframe had started to fail with the plastic piping proving to not be strong enough for the job and the way that Tom was driving! There was little the team could do, in this situation you have 5 minutes to repair the car, knowing full well that they could not do another repair in that time and also assessing the situation carefully they concluded that there was no safety issues in letting the car run as it was, it would just be an interesting situation for Tom to handle as he attempted to negotiate the car around his next 2 qualifying runs.
The team stood and waited for the results rather nervously, it wasn't just Tom there competing although he was the only one having serious mechanical problems, Frazer Jamieson was also there, having been a regular passenger ride driver at the drift school for some time, Frazer had decided to enter his first competition in the Street class and alongside them was another of the Team Flatout passenger drivers , Retro Drift Championships seasoned veteran, Ben Fisher who was competing in the Cup Class in his V8 BMW E30.
As the results were read out you could see how everyone of the 50 competitors was listening anxiously for their names to be called out to see if they had won the right to battle against each other. Tom placed 11th in qualifying, Frazer 17th, just missing out on a battle spot by 1 point while Ben placed 10th in the Cup class. It was on, 2 drivers made it into the afternoon finals.
Frantically the whole team chipped into help fix the broken BMW compact, thank fully the weather was starting to improve and the sun was out and the track was drying out. The team managed to make some new locking collars for the subframe from some scrap metal that they salvaged and Tom took his place on the start line with the team alongside in the support vehicle.
Tom battled hard in the first round, making his way from the top 16 to the great 8, then again winning a place in the last 4. Here he lost his battle to Dean Newport-Hall who went through to the final battle, eventually coming second. This left Tom to battle against Dan Brown for 3rd and 4th place. Both drivers peddled exceptionally hard and it was too close for the judges to call, they had to run more time to settle it! This time Tom drove even harder than before and hoped it was enough but they would have to wait for the podium announcements to find out!!
Next up was the Cup class battles, unfortunately Ben started to experience mechanical issues from his BMW V8 engine, this drop in power caused him some problems and he didn't make it through to the next round.
As the team stood by the podium waiting for the results to be announced they had no idea of the final results and it was a pleasant surprise to hear Tom get called out for 3rd place in his class!
Having only competed in 2 of the 3 rounds of Drift Cup this season, Tom walked away with his first Drift Cup podium at a track that he had never driven at before and also with the final season result of being 4th place at Street class in the overall results. Something both Tom and the team are very proud of!
"It was an amazing event, the team was fantastic as they always are, they worked hard to make sure the car could get out onto the starting grid and then tirelessly to maintain it during the battles. I thank them all so much for their help and I couldn't of done this without them! I'm also very proud of my team mates Frazer and Ben, no doubt you will see much more of them, hopefully alongside me on the podiums in 2015! Roll on next season, I can't wait to get back out in a car competing again!"
Flatout Factory had their team videographer in attendance at the event who is working on a 'driftumentary', covering the adventures of the Flatout Factory, this is due to be released sometime towards the end of 2014. Here is the official Drift Cup video of the event in the meantime so you can see the action. If you are interested in following the Drift Cup in 2015 then please check out their webpage www.driftcup.co.uk and if you are competing and would like some personal training then contact the guys at the Flatout Factory to book in for some 1 on 1 training sessions at their Birmingham Wheels adventure park facility. We also offer introduction to drifting sessions for those who wish to get a taster of what the sport involves! There is more information about this on the experience page of our website!
If you would like to work with Tom or any of the other Flatout Factory team members for the upcoming 2015 season, there are partners and team sponsors positions available. We can offer packages to include livery on the cars, product placement, attendances at events, the opportunity to attend competitions and events in a team member role and even tuition in the art of drifting too. All this is in addition to exposure on our social media pages and inclusion in our videos and driftumentaries Please aim all correspondence regarding potential opportunities to firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.