Hello fellow OMGDrift fans! I hope you’re well and rested from the off season, it’s great to be back in a competition car and great to be back here on OMGDrift!
This year in Ireland we have an all new championship. The Irish Drift Championship (or IDC) replaces the iconic Prodrift series, although it’s basically the same great staff that are behind both series and all the drivers and teams remain, so thankfully we’re continuing with the high standards of organisation and most importantly drifting which we’re become accustomed to on this little island.
During the off season at MCNSport we made some subtle improvements to the Hankook Tyre MCNSport RX-7 in a number of areas. I was also trying to build up a good working budget for the season ahead, because even though I believe our cars and driving level are considered to be of a high international standard over here, the vast majority of drivers and teams are still totally independently funded, so it’s important to go into a season ready for whatever it might throw at you. Jimmy Up also ran a really cool T-Shirt with the RX-7 on it during the off season, thanks guys!
Having D-Mac and MCNSport behind my car is the greatest. I mean Darren is driving some of the fastest drift cars in the world with years now, and the wealth of knowledge he possesses about setting up a car properly is nuts. I just wish that I could pump more budget and testing time into turning this knowledge into reality for the Rex, but the car is getting better all the time, and I still thing that we’re only about 60% of the way through its development.
For the five-round 2013 season I would be continuing with the same core team which we finished last year with, the legendard ‘Hardcore Holly’ as our main mechanic and ‘Cousin’ Tom as our spotter and secondary mechanic. Holly had managed to break a vertebra while wrestling a leprechaun over the last pint of Guinness in the barrel a few weeks earlier, so he moved into the role of supervisor while I donned the spanners with the MCNSport crew for pre season preparations.
Now I know that you know all about my fellow OMGDrift driver James Deane. He and I got out together for some pre season testing two weeks prior to Round 1, and after the minor tweaks off season, the FC felt great. I was able to push much harder than before, the nervous feeling was just gone out of the car. The chassis and great Hankook V12 Evo tyres were working perfectly together and the whole package had a sweet balance. I also learned that it’s not a car that can be driven at anything less than 100%. It just doesn’t work! If you’re ‘on it’, then it’s on it with you, anything half hearted just doesn’t work.
So we headed to the first ever round of the IDC hopeful of a result, and the minute we rolled in to the Mondello Park paddock I was greeted by my new Hankook Tyre team mates Adrian Walsh, Brian Egan and rookie Stephen Waugh, as well as Hankook tyre technician Cormac Brady who keeps us supplied with the best rubber during an event. Adrian and Brian’s 86’s and Stephen’s Sileighty all looked the business in their respective new liveries, and the Hankook area in general was just really cool and a great place to be based.
Shortly after all the meeting and greeting was done, it was time to forget all that stuff and get down to business.
Saturday practice was going great. The tyres were great, the chassis was great, the engine was great. Super responsive! It felt stronger at the top of the rev range than the 450bhp power figure would suggest.
The 265/35/18 Hankook V12 Evo tyres were laying down the power really well too with great feedback. I gotta say following Adrian in practice rocked, shadowing his SR86 closely in the FC, both reppin the black, orange and white livery! I haven’t had as much fun in a competition car in a while. The FC was drinking so much race fuel/petrol/two stroke oil mix that I had to pit in to Holly for fuel every six laps to fill the 20 litre MCNSport aluminium tank as I could hear the pump starting to look for the good stuff!
Have you ever been really looking forward to something? Or doing really well and felt like you could go all the way? Well I was having a blast and getting my lines and entry speed locked down towards the end of the session, but just at the end of the very last pass I noticed the engine idling a bit unevenly. Upon further investigation in the pits we discovered a lack of compression in the first rotor housing. The engine had blown.
Gutted. I guess that’s the only word to describe how I felt, after all the hard work and preparation. For the first time in the RX-7 I was out for blood in pro competition. I guess I can’t complain much though, as all I could afford to give D-Mac to rebuild the engine last year was second hand stuff from a spare engine I had, using the bare minimum of new parts.
Our weekend wasn’t over yet though, as my buddies Ian and Paul Stryker came to my aid with their newly acquired 277bhp SR20 AE86 (thanks so much lads!) to try and get us a Top 16 place in the main event.
Due to a time attack event being held on the same track, the pro grid only got 10 minutes practice on Sunday morning, which meant three wet laps for me. Still, I got used to the new chassis and by the time qualifying came around the track had just dried up. This was going to be tough, new car, zero practice in the dry and a field full of Europe’s best drivers and cars!
I gave it my all on the 2nd lap after a mistake on the first, but it wasn’t enough for a place in the Top 16.
Our weekend was over, all that was left to do was to help out and cheer on my team mates and start planning the engine rebuild. As it happens Adrian had a great Super lap and finished in the Top 16 and Brian battled hard to the Great 8.
The final battle of the day was a crazy affair between James and Ireland’s own kamikaze Japanese-style drifter Gavin Lenihan. Gavin laid down a sick chase run and it was up to James to come back, but in between the two runs the skies opened, the track was drenched and Gavin spun on the entry on his lead run. Congrats to both drivers though on great entertainment!
As it stands right now the rotary is out of the FC, awaiting rebuilding, while we await parts from Mazdatrix and Hayward Rotary to get started. We’re just looking for the reliability now as the other pieces of the puzzle that make a great package seem to be in place.
I’d like to give a huge thanks to Niall, Cormac and all at Hankook Ireland, Darren and the crew at MCNSport, and Holly and Tom for the great support and expertise, as well as all my other sponsors, all of whom makes this cool car and campaign possible.
Now it’s time for work, we’ve got an engine to build!
Feel free to like my Facebook page Mike Fitz Drifting and to follow me on Instagram @mikeyfitzdrift, thanks!
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