GETTING IN TO GEAR: Clare Vale is just itching to start the 2017 racing season. Image: Marcel Sigg
Johannesburg - Three months into 2017, with only a distant Supadrift Round 1 to look forward to… have serious drifting withdrawal symptoms!
Besides driving our Vito van to work and back, I haven’t been behind the wheel of a decent car since we broke our Mustang motor at the last Supadrift event in October last year. About the only driving I’ve been doing lately is driving the rest of the Team mad by continuously asking, “Is my car ready yet?”
The workshop has been a hive of activity since January, when the last of the engine parts arrived from the United States. The Mustang engine has been totally rebuilt, stronger than ever. We’re not actually sure how strong it is because the car runs on road tyres and we can’t keep it on the dyno long enough to find out. To my mind, that has to be a good sign!
Michael Thomas, our Cape Town “drift Towenaar”, has also been busy with lots of set up and other mechanical improvements, which I can’t mention here – every racing wizard has his secrets, which may never be shared. All I can say is that I honestly can’t wait to head out to our local Rock Raceway to do some testing: more power + more angle means we’re going to have a very good drift car this season.
We’ll take part in the second round of the Rock’s National drift series on April 1st, which will give us a good warm up before Supadrift 1 in Kimberley at the end of April. We love the Rock events and the unforgiving walls always test cars and drivers to the limit. Monster Mob Raceway in Kimberley has equally daunting walls so this event will give us a very good idea as to any changes we may need to make.
Clare Vale drifting in her Mustang. Image: Marcel Sigg
We’ve also been working hard to prepare our Subaru #86BRZ for the Jaguar Simola Hill Climb at the beginning of May. We entered this event for the first time in 2016 and really enjoyed the experience. It’s a unique event, with a big social element, and the whole town becomes involved.
The cars are on display at the Knysna waterfront on the Friday morning, followed by a parade through the town centre. This parade is accompanied by much wheel spinning and gentle drifting around the odd corner, and it’s loads of fun. It also gives the drivers a chance to interact with the crowds and meet the spectators, which is so important for a motorsport event.
We were a little unprepared for last year’s event, as we are up against some serious contenders in our class. Our little 2.0-litre turbo Subaru is rear wheel driven and ran on road tyres in 2016, and it was tough competing against a clutch of AWD Evos and Subarus, running on full slicks with launch control!
I struggled to get good starts, as keeping the turbo on boost meant I had massive wheel spin through first, second and third gears, and a good start is crucial for a good time up the hill.
This year, Continental Tyre SA has equipped us with full slicks that will help us get off the line better even without launch control, and with some more of Michael the Towenaar’s magic in the mix, I think we should be a lot more competitive. We’ll also be spending our Wednesday nights at the Rock, joining their street to strip drag events to perfect those starts…
The Hill Climb has become a real highlight of the motorsport calendar later in May. With a great mix of Classic Cars competing on the Friday, and the Supercars and ultra-modified cars on Saturday and Sunday, it’s an event not to be missed by any self-respecting petrol head.
I do miss circuit racing, although I’m totally hooked on the instant adrenaline charge of drifting. After the Hill Climb we hope to find a circuit racing class that will be a good fit for the BRZ, and allow me to scratch that racing itch every once in a while!
Watch this space, and hope to catch up with you at some events this year.
Read Clare's column in the latest issue of SA HotRods magazine.
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