Kings Lynn was the venue for the most recent round of Drift Cup and Michelle Westby was looking forward to making more progress after a fun first round where she had qualified well but had lost out in the battles.
We asked Michelle to explain how it all works;
“It starts off with around sixty drivers then you have an hours practice. After that everyone lines up for qualifying. This is where you get two runs of the track to get a qualifying result. Results are mainly based on hitting the clipping point on track and extra marks are given for line, speed and angle. Once everyone has done their two runs the top thirty two qualifying drivers are announced and that’s when the battles start. The judges arrange who will battle who first and it all filters down to the final in a knock out format. With each battle you have a lead run and a chase run. The lead run is where you are the first car and you have to just drift sticking to the clipping points. Then when you’re the chase car it’s all about proximity to the lead car, getting as close as possible as well as sticking to the lead cars run.”
So how are the runs scored?
“This is done on a points system so lead car will get points from the qualifying clips and line and the chase car will get points on proximity to the lead car and getting as close as possible. Then the other way round on their second runs.”
Michelle’s practice session didn’t go as well as she hoped as she adjusted to which areas had grip and which were slippery but by the end she was feeling more confident if a little nervous. Next up were the qualifying runs and Michelle tried her best to control her nerves. As long as she was in the top thirty two then she’d be fine.
She initially went well but nerves again meant a few mistakes crept in. Fortunately when the results came in, she was in twentieth place and had easily qualified for the battles. Michelle’s first battle was against Simon Conosenti. Over to Michelle again to describe how it went;
“I was the lead car to start with. I was so nervous that I went in too fast and ended up spinning on track, this actually meant I got zero marks! Fortunately when I was the chase car, the lead car also made a big mistake which was lucky for me as it meant we got a ‘one more time’ which means we both got the chance to battle again. After this battle it was decided I was to go through. For me this was the best feeling because it was the first battle I had won since entering Drift Cup so I was over the moon”
Now Michelle was up against Richard Gladwin and as they were waiting for their runs, Michelle got into some banter with him which really helped her nerves. This lead to her best performance so far as she beat Richard to go through to the next stage. Michelle was now feeling more excitement than nerves as she waited to go out against Stuart Jones, whom Michelle knew was very good in the battles. This meant Michelle wasn’t expecting to win and decided to just go out and have some fun which meant she lost all feelings of being nervous. She was shocked but thrilled to win this battle too.
This lead to a UK first as Michelle now found herself up against another female drifter, Zanna Young, in the first all female drift battle ever in the UK. Zanna is another good drifter so this was another tough battle for Michelle. She describes what happened next;
“Zanna was to lead first and unfortunately ended up spinning off track which meant zero points for her so I was now through to the finals! At this point I could hear people chanting my name in the ground and I just couldn’t believe where I was! I had come to Drift Cup that day in hope to just at least win my first battle, so to now be in the Finals was just a surreal feeling !”
Michelle was now in her first ever final after coming to the event just hoping to win her first battle, she now had a chance to win the whole thing. Whatever happened next, it was her best drift event so far and a massive achievement. Could she win? It’s over to Michelle once again;
“So my final battle was against Sean Chessum who is a lovely guy and a great driver! My lead run was spot on though and I was pleased I didn’t mess up under pressure. But then on my chase run right at the final corner I made a mistake by braking a little too much and ended up straightening the car. I was a little gutted with myself to have thrown away the win at the last moment of the final but at the same time I was ecstatic I had even come second and made the podium which I never expected at the start of the day.”
So with second place, Michelle could now stand on the podium for the first time ever, as well as getting to spray the champagne! What was the experience like?
“On the podium nothing felt real, literally felt like I was someone else just watching it all as if it was a dream. I really wanted to thank the crowd for the great support, I could hear them all chanting my name which just made me feel even more determined for the future.”
It had been a great day for Michelle, far exceeding her targets for the day with her amazing second place that had been so close to a win. She is now second in the overall standings, an incredible result for only her second event in Drift cup. The next rounds are at Three Sisters Race Circuit, Wigan on July 2nd, if you’re local, why not come along and support Michelle as she tries for another podium and maybe even an overall win. We’ll leave the final words to Michelle;
“I am now really looking forward to round three of Drift Cup. I feel that now I have proven to myself that I can do it, it should now build my confidence, calm the nerves and push me forward. I’m determined to make it to that podium again.
A massive thanks as always to Garage D for prepping the car, Ashely Hinton for being my ‘pit guy’ for the day. Lastly thank you to everyone else that kept coming over to give me words of support, it really did mean so much.“