2022 Season Review
It would be true to say that 2022 was not only a landmark year for the Motorsport UK Drift Pro Championship but for Drifting in Britain as a whole.
Its first full season saw the Championship build on the foundation that was laid in 2021, to provide a brand-new platform for the sport in the UK and raise the bar of professionalism for all involved to a new height, bringing with it a new level of excitement and spectacle for drivers, teams and fans.
Working closely with Motorsport UK and circuit operators MSV, the championship visited five of the country’s leading motorsport venues for a calendar of eight rounds that comprised two double-headers and four one-day events.
The inclusion of the established race circuits enabled competitors to achieve incredibly high speeds, the likes of which have not been seen in the UK for many years – another factor that raised the bar for the sport, increased the spectacle and provided a clear indication that this was Drifting at the highest level.
We therefore invite you to join us in a look back at what was a truly memorable season.
ROUNDS 1 & 2 – Cadwell Park
1st & 2nd May
Kicking things off in style, competitive Drifting returned to Cadwell Park for the first time since 2012, the venue’s technical nature and unique topography providing spectators with the opportunity to watch the action from the closest of vantage points.
Running through the tree-lined ‘Mountain’ section of the circuit, the twisty, technical Drift course was reminiscent of the mountain roads in Japan where drifting originated. With two rounds spread over the weekend, drivers dialled themselves in, in order to get comfortable with this challenging track before pushing harder in the tandem battles.
Straight out of the box on day one, Lwi Edwards (Alitalia Motorsport BMW E36), Ollie Evans (BC Racing Nissan S15) and Axel Hildebrand (Sonax Car Care Nissan 200SX) started strongly, qualifying in the top three and eventually battling their way through the field to finish in the same positions in the Final.
Day-two saw drivers getting to grips with the fast and flowing course, resulting in a significant
shake-up in the Qualifying session, with Lwi, Josh, Matt Denham (JapSpeed Nissan S14) and Olly all scoring over 90 points, which made for a very different Top 16 line-up ahead of the tandem battles.
It was clear to see that Lwi wanted to make his mark on the championship early on and put on an amazing display of skill and bravery as he pushed his way to the top spot in the final, driving his monster LSX V8 powered BMW E36.
ROUNDS 3 & 4 – Brands Hatch
16th & 19th June
Returning to the place where the Motorsport UK Drift Pro Championship began in 2021, the natural amphitheatre of Brands Hatch is always a hit with spectators and the 1000s of fans attending Sunday’s Tunerfest South show.
With un-paralleled views of the track and one of the fastest layouts on the calendar, it’s easy to see why Brands Hatch is one of favourite venues for fans and drivers. Although the drift course layout is simpler to that of Cadwell Park, following initiation on the Cooper Straight, drivers have to nail their line perfectly into the left-hander of Surtees to enable them to carry enough speed through the connected right-handers of McLaren, Clearways and Clark Curve. It’s a course where, making full use of all power on tap, drivers are able to put on an incredible high-speed smoke-show for the crowds.
With the summer sunshine in full effect on the first of the two days, drivers made full use of the Practice to get in the groove. The session also featured an exciting guest appearance from Japanese drift legend Hibino Tetsyua, who was testing the stunning rotary engine powered Liberty Walk S15 ahead of the Goodwood Festival of Speed the following weekend.
However, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for some, as Dave Bastin in the Kent Models
supported AE86 suffered huge engine failure knocking him out of the competition for the rest of the weekend. With the circuit one of his favourites, he was more than disappointed not to be able to continue.
Qualifying saw Ollie Evans put in another fantastic display, claiming the top spot alongside Josh King, while driving his Octane Distribution-supported Nissan S15 Paul Cunnington made his first foray into the top qualifying grid with an excellent run into 3rd place. The Top 16 battles came fast and furious as judges whittled down competitors for the Final 8 that saw Ollie and Josh face off with some of the closest driving we had seen to date.
Ultimately there could only be one winner and on this occasion it was Ollie who secured victory and in doing so, placed himself on top of the championship points table.
Day two saw Haydn Cruickshank take the top spot in Qualifying, with an impressive 91-point run in his monster 1000bhp V8-swapped Colour Sound Experiment Toyota JZX100 Chaser. Indeed, if there was a competition based on the amount of smoke alone, he would have won it hands down!
The second-day’s Top 16 battles saw Paul Cunnington and his Octane Distribution Nissan S15 continue the form from his third place finish the previous day, as he fought off the competition to take victory after an amazing run between him and Haydn Cruickshank. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHTI8CnXkTQ&ab_channel=DriftProChampionship
The battle for 2nd and 3rd saw another face-off between Lwi Edwards and Ollie Evans and, with a new rivalry forming between these two impressive drivers, it was always going to be a closely
fought affair. No one excepted it to be THAT close, however.
Lwi’s BMW E36 suffered gearbox failure during his lead run, slowing the car down suddenly as both drivers transitioned into Clearways corner. With nowhere to go, Ollie ran into the back wheel of Lwi’s car, launching the S15 spectacularly into the air.
With the judges and crowd stunned by what had just happened, no one was sure who was at fault and how to pick a winner. Both cars had suffered suspension damage and while organisers allowed a short time window for both to try and fix their cars, it was too late for the drivers to execute a second run.
As such, Lwi gracefully accepted responsibility and in doing so, handed the advantage to Ollie who secured 2nd place, while Lwi took a still claimed a more than respectable 3rd. What an event!
ROUND 5 – OULTON PARK
Located in the heart of the Cheshire countryside and surrounded by ancient woodland, Oulton Park is one of the most picturesque circuits in the UK and one that’s rarely been used for Drifting. Therefore, for many of the drivers it was their first ever visit to the track, which meant learning the course from scratch.
Cars started from the race grid and headed through turn one at Old Hall Corner before dropping down the Avenue, Dentons and Cascades. Switching angles, they launched into the technical right, right, left and right of Fosters, Hislops and then Knickerbrook Chicane before crossing the finish line at the foot of Clay Hill.
Being the longest course on the calendar and with ample viewing on both sides of the track, crowds were treated to a superb display of Drifting on a hot summer’s day, which meant tyre wear was an important consideration for drivers, some having to change rubber in between runs!
While Qualifying saw Ollie Evans top the score sheets, there was a shakeup for the other positions, with Martyn Cowley in the Locked & Loaded Turbo Technics Nissan Silvia S14 claiming second spot and Axel Hildebrand third.
After a day of intense battles, Ollie continued his Qualifying form through the Top 16 and Top 8 runs to claim his second victory of the season, clearly demonstrating that he had his sights on the 2022 Championship title.
Josh King delivered another great performance netting him 2nd place, whilst Haydn Cruickshank pushed through to take 3rd and a well-deserved place on the podium.
ROUND 6 – DONINGTON PARK
Next up was a visit to the legendary Donington Park circuit – the second of the three venues that had featured in the line-up for the championship’s preview season in 2021. However, to provide drivers with a more connected and flowing layout that would enable closer proximity tandem battles and therefore increase the spectacle for fans, organisers had designed a new course for this year’s event.
During the day, we were delighted to welcome UK Drift legend Phil Morison into the fold, who made his competitive return to the sport driving the Driftworks DW86, the distinctive sound of the car’s V8 engine echoing around the circuit. Add to this aeroplanes flying low overhead from nearby East Midlands Airport as drivers blasted down the main straight into turn one, the noise
and spectacle of machinery on display was epic!
With his diminutive Nissan SR20-powered Toyota Corolla fitted with a new engine – this time full of oil – Dave Bastin executed a fantastic Qualifying session, closely followed by Lwi Edwards and Axel Hildebrand in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The Top 16 battles witnessed drivers make full use of the course layout, with plenty of door-to-door action leaving the judges with some tough calls and difficult decisions to make. Once again, Ollie Evans and Josh King found themselves pitted against each other in the final, with Ollie managing to pull a gap in his lead run and then stuck it to Josh’s door during his chase run, his efforts rewarded by a third win of the season.
Proving that consistency pays off, Tegiwa Racing supported driver – and the man regarded as the ‘Gent’ of drifting – Ian Philips showed great form to claim the final step on the podium in his Nissan 350Z.
ROUND 7 – BRANDS HATCH
The Championship returned to Brands Hatch for round seven, this time taking place alongside the hugely popular Go Japan show. An annual celebration of Japanese automotive culture and with Drifting one of the country’s most famous motorsport exports, what better way to celebrate than to let the very best in the UK do what they do best!
After the two previous rounds at Brands in June, it was clear to see that drivers felt at home on the course and aware of just how much commitment and speed was needed to deliver a stand-out run. With speeds over 100mph reached, the 1000s of fans looking-on were treated to a sideways smoke-fest of spectacular action.
The Top 16 battles were as fast and close to call as ever. Ian Philips put down a wild marker,
with the speed of his 350Z seeing its lightweight bodywork almost removed during his tandem battle with Josh King.
However, tactical air brakes were not enough to deter Josh from sticking to his door and
went on to take the win in the Final to claim his first victory of the season. Always a class act, Driftworks driver Martin Richards finished a close second, whilst a strong showing enabled Paul Cunnington to claim third. It was a truly exciting end to the penultimate round of the season and one that was to set things up nicely for the grand finale four weeks later.
ROUND 8 – SNETTERTON
After a whirlwind year, the Motorsport UK Drift Pro Championship checked into its final destination of the season at Snetterton Circuit, featuring the well-attended Modified Live show. With the Time Attack and racing content held entirely on the outer 200 Circuit and the Drifting taking place on the inner 100 Circuit the action was non-stop, with fans able to get
closer and the teams able to operate from their own exclusive paddock.
With the opportunity for more track time, organisers introduced a new concept for the event: Drift Pro Lights, a competition that saw drivers from other championships invited to take part and showcase their talents alongside the regular competitors and a chance to enter the main championship in 2023.
With race for the title still to play for, the autumnal weather raised the stakes even higher. After clouds rolled-in during the morning, torrential downpours followed and whilst not ideal conditions for top level Drifting, drivers who all stepped up to the challenge as they battled it out for victory.
Practice and Qualifying was a frustrating experience for some, with spins and offs a plenty.
Fortunately, the sun fought back against the clouds and everyone was given a moment
to dry their socks out before the Final.
With the track surface starting to change, to say grip levels were unpredictable was an understatement, with drivers having to deal with a mixture of slippery, damp and dry patches that stretched their skill and reactions to the limit. As such, consistency was king and one driver to have embraced that concept more than most was Ian Philips who took his first win of the season from Axel Hildebrand in 2nd and Martin Richards 3rd.
The Drift Pro Lights competition saw drivers take on the adverse weather conditions
and entirely new circuit to them in their stride, with some fantastic battles in the Top 16 shoot-out. 1st place went to Arunas Narmontas who consquesntly, secured his drive for the 2023 Drift Pro season. 2nd place went to Stewart Edgell and 3rd Michael Bennet. Organisers expressed their thanks to the Drift Pro Lights drivers for putting a great show for the crowds.
No sooner the action at Snetterton had come to a close, the Motorsport UK Drift Pro Championship final results were confirmed and the 2022 overall championship awards presented.
Following a truly memorable year, the title went to Ollie Evans followed by a hard charging Josh King in 2nd and a young drift superstar in the making Lwi Edwards in 3rd. Congratulations to all!
For those who have ever watched Drifting from the grandstands and side lines, they will know that the energy and buzz generated by the fans is an atmosphere to savour, with the support for drivers and spirit of the competition a large part of what makes Drifting so much fun for spectators.
To ensure fans could engage with the sport as much as possible, organisers introduced the Drift Pro Hyper Paddock, where drivers and teams were provided with their own dedicated pit area and the public had the opportunity to meet their favourite drivers between the sessions, take pictures, get autographs and get close to the amazing machines they drive.
With music, merchandise and more, the Drift Pro Hyper Paddock was a focal point for the fans; always busy, bursting with good vibes and great to see so many people enjoying it!
We hope everyone who attended our events this season enjoyed the experience and had a fantastic time. If you didn’t get a chance, then we look forward to seeing you next year.
We extend a huge thank you to all who came to watch the action, our commercial partners for
their invaluable support, the teams, drivers, judges and of course our Drift Pro crew, all of whom made these events possible and successful! Until next year…
The Motorsport UK Drift Pro Championship Team.