We’ve already published pro-drifter Stuart Egdell’s exciting account of his wildcard entry in Drift France but then he sent us this more in-depth version which gives greater insight into the mind of a driver and how carefully he prepares for each race.
Good afternoon Team
A week or so has settled (although my sunburn hasn't!) since we attended Drift France for Rounds 3 and 4 of their amazing championship.
On arrival we were greeted with a warm welcome by the friendly staff and drivers at Croix En Ternois - what an amazing but challenging circuit!!
We unloaded, set up and then walked the track to get feel of what I’d be driving the next day. The circuit has a blind entry under a bridge, sweeping right with an inside clip then an outside clip just on the edge of the gravel trap, it’s then a super-fast uphill run reaching speeds in excess of 120kph into a sharp hairpin over the finish line.
What really surprised me was just how steep the uphill climb was from clip 3 to the hairpin, then carrying huge speed and angle to an almost walking pace 90-degree hairpin.
A solid practice
Friday morning kicked off early with some real solid practice, a track I've never driven. I followed a few locals first to find my speed and placement on the track. After a few comfortable runs chasing, I started to push on the lead. First lead run out, I just dipped the rear wheels over the gravel and lost the rear bumper - good start!
We worked hard in dialling the line into what the judges required for qualifying.
Second practice session
Towards the end of my 2nd practice session, I put in a decent chase with a good friend, Laurent Nikitin. Pushing a little too hard to catch his 1000bhp monster, I ended up in the gravel trap on the last corner, this unfortunately punctured my oil cooler.
Luckily my team spotted this and set to work finding a replacement locally - only just getting the car back together in time for the final practice.
Saturday morning, we were straight out for qualifying, after huge amounts of rubber was laid on the circuit the day before and then a little rain that morning, with the temperature approximately 20-degrees cooler then yesterday, I was expecting the track conditions to be less grippy then the day before.
Feilding Shredder, another Wildcard entry was out first, my team fed back to me the speed and conditions based on his first run, so I lined up and sent it off the line!
After entry and passing through clip 2, the tracks grip level took me by surprise as I was expecting a little less grip since the car gripped up well through clip 3. A messy first 3 clips but a solid remainder of the run got me a good score on the board and put in the top 32 battle grid!
After lunch and watching all the amazing French drivers top off qualifying with Axel Francois taking the top spot, we got ready for a track parade then straight into top 32 battles.
I was up against young Frenchman Will Delagrainge. Will put in a solid lead line and an aggressive chase. A few errors on my side saw Will take the win and move on to the top 16, with us sadly bowing out in the top 32. Still, it gave us a good amount of time to cool off and talk to some new fans.
Day 2 saw a repeat of day 1. Early out of the box for qualifying and rain on the circuit, I put in a good solid 1st qualifying run gaining me good points. However, a silly mistake at my end (the championship runs a telemetry system - this must be returned immediately after your run or your score is void) I forgot to go straight back with the box giving me a zero.
Run 2, I had it all to play for. By this run it was drizzling fairly heavily so the conditions were pretty slippy on track! Unfortunately, it just wasn't my day. After pulling off the line for my second run, I blew a boost pipe giving me zero power for the full run, even managing to limp it round, it still wasn't enough to get a score to see us through to battles and our competition day was over.
France was amazing: the people, drivers, and public were outstanding and it was by far one of the busiest competition events I've attended. We honestly can't wait to get back out there for another round - hopefully later on in the year.
Now time to prep for Goodwood FOS! I hope to see you there!