INSIGHT | Brian Egan @ BDC Lydden Hill

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-1

Well hello there! So nice of you to pop into my own little corner on the wonderful Autolifers universe. When the Autolifers crew asked me to come onboard for a full year of blogging for 2014 there was never any doubt as to what I would do, and I hope people enjoy reading these at times incoherent ramblings of possibly the highs, and undoubtedly the lows, that come with competing in two highly competitive drift series in the one year. The Irish Drift Championship and the British Drift Championship. I suppose for people new to reading this I better introduce myself and my car a little bit, and more so explain the changes and reasons for doing them to the Nankang Dealtwidth AE86 for 2014. I myself have not been drifting a particularly long time, under 3 years, and in that time I have managed to claw my way into the top class in both the Irish and UK drift championships. It’s been a pretty crazy ride, and doing it in a car I love is a massively added bonus. Of course without all the great support and help I have around me it wouldn’t have been possible.

Autolifers-cezeli-Brian-Egan-2012-Trueno-F20c-Dealtwidth

It is probably important to point out at this stage also that my level of actual mechanics, suspension setup, or essentially any of the important stuff is pretty much basic. I haven’t adjusted my suspension softer or harder, in the two and a bit years I’ve owned the car for example, and nor do I even know which direction to turn the knobby thing in order to do so! I just love driving, plain and simple, and since I don’t know exactly what I’m doing in that mechanical regard, I’ve always believed in the basic principle that whatever the issue or conditions, I’m best off to just drive through it, around it, or straight damn over it. If a car has enough lock, enough power, and the driver enough cahones, that’s pretty much all you need. In my opinion sometimes people can get too lost in trying to find the perfect setup, that they lose sight of the most important ingredient of all, which will always be the guy (or gal) sitting square in the middle. Of course this could all just be a poorly constructed argument to justify my sheer laziness in not going out and trying to learn all this sort of stuff! I learned to drift like many people purely on the street, and on the street you never think for a second about setup or problems…..you generally just think about not getting caught.

Autolifers-IDC-Mondello-7

Myself last year running the 250bhp setup at Mondello Park Round 5 of the IDC championship 2013
 

As awesome as my 250bhp (in 2013) little F20c powered super lightweight HachiRoku corolla had been to me, I kind of got fed up towards the end of the year in nearly loosing drift battles due to the initial drag race as much as anything else. So myself, together with Icetronix, AP-Performance, and Couture Auto all hatched a plan to boost the power a bit and level the playing field somewhat. I also felt I had got pretty close to the limits of driving the car, so wanted to give myself a bit more headroom to keep learning and progressing. The result is an Icetronix supplied Rotrex 38-81 supercharger added to the mix, with all the accompanying mods. Also Icetronix supplied AEM V2 ECU provides the management, and Couture Auto have done an incredible job of assembling it altogether in the tight space of the 86s engine bay. Aenghus of AP-Performance provided the overall game plan along the way and rewired and mapped the car. We decided to put a restrictor in the charger to limit the overall boost and power, as reliability is always the key, and I didn’t want to create a car that suddenly became purely on and off power, handbraking everywhere, and in general completely changing my driving style. A new Pajero/H100 hybrid axle from XTR Competition Chassis and a brand new custom and balanced propshaft was also fitted with reliability in mind. We added masses amounts of grip in the form of the incredible new Nankang NS2R tyres in 195/50 15” sizes. The added power was a must to try and overcome this added grip, and make the car not waste its power or change its style completely, but just do everything it did before…..much much faster. The end result was 353 bhp and 250 ft/lbs of torque. The end result in real terms is warp factor drifting engaged! I now also suddenly had a car that just started first time on the button, a rev gauge and other gauges, all for the first time. Result!

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-5

And so 6 months flew by, all the money I seemed to work very hard for magically kept disappearing, and the realisation that an extremely busy and equally fun yet stressful 6 month drift period was about to begin all dawned on me. A now norm at this stage; an extremely last minute mad dash to get the car ready ensued, with help from too many people to list, a small test day proved promising, and then all too soon the car was loaded onto a truck, myself loaded onto a plane, and we were all on our way to the British Drift Championship Round 1 at Lydden Hill racetrack near Dover.
 

 
Lydden Hill is a track that in theory I should really like, and in many ways I do. It has a nice fast entry that you can flick the car into, this goes into a tight technical hairpin where your line is crucial in making the next section work, and then a flat give it as many gears as you can straight and uphill right hander which always gets the excitement juices flowing. However although I had driven it once before, it is a track that I have still never felt fully comfortable on. No particular reason that I can explain, but I suppose in golfing terms it just doesn’t quite suit my eye. Although located in the sunny south east of England, right near the Channel Tunnel, the weather forecast for the weekend was not in any way promising. After arriving on Friday evening, logging the car, and setting up our paddock area, we retired for the night trying to figure out how the day ahead would go. Saturday morning and it was raining. Super Pro practice (the class I am in) was to be first on the schedule and I lined up anxiously. Much more nervous than normal to be honest. I hate wet or damp conditions. It ruins my confidence in what exactly the car will do. Factor in the added power, massive difference in grip levels with the Nankang NS2Rs, and some alignment changes, and it all further made me not quite sure what was going to happen. My driving style really relies on confidence. I have heard people tell me that I am mad, or crazy etc. at times when I try things on track or at practice days, but to be honest I am very far from it, I am just confident. When I’m confident I feel I can attempt anything, or battle anyone in the world. But when that confidence isn’t quite there, I can start to struggle a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I still threw the car in, in 4th gear with a flick entry on the first lap, but it all didn’t quite go as I would hope. Two more practice laps and I was starting to feel a bit more of a groove in when to enter, what to do, and how to apply the power etc. Smoke was already starting to pour from the gearbox tunnel into the cabin after each run, a sign of some of the problems that were about the happen to me over the weekend.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-10

Where you queue to wait for your next turn in Lydden Hill is on quite a steep slope. I was having trouble that the car would just not idle for me when warm. And with no fixed handbrake it was proving quite annoying and difficult to keep the revs from dropping so far it would stall, and also constantly stop the car from rolling back. At one point I stalled after my 3rd lap, and the car just would not start for me again. I rolled out of the way of the queue at an angle. And after trying for ages to start it, and being unable for anyone to help try and push start me due to the remote location, my practice session was over. I also realised at this point that I had smashed off the front right side of my canards and lip that I had spent 3 days painstakingly making with my mate Paddy Brennan. Pretty sickened at this point (and apologies to Paddy as I still haven’t quite had the nerve to tell him). After being towed back in after the practice session, via the rough and bumpy scenic route (which did my back no good) I jump started the car without issue, and in the pits the car started and idled with no problems. The track was starting to dry up, and I had one more practice session to go, so all wasn’t too bad.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-8

Second practice session, and again the car wouldn’t idle when warm. It also would mean that if I clutched and handbraked, then the car would stall if I didn’t keep the revs up. Again more hassle to deal with and all affecting my confidence in the general drifting part. But a more serious issue was starting to arise. Remember that smoke from the gearbox I mentioned? Well now after each run it was pluming a lot more heavily into the cabin. I now was suddenly unable to do a 1st gear rolling burnout without it popping out of gear, and when I entered in 4th gear it would sometimes just pop out and not be there when I wanted to get back on the power. Confidence going down further. In saying that I did manage some pretty good runs at times though, and was still reasonably positive that I could figure it all out for qualifying.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-7

In qualifying in the BDC you get 3 judged runs. For an Irish driver this sounds too good to be true, and always takes a lot of the dreaded qualifying nerves away. Banker on the first and go mental on the other two is always my general plan. Sadly in my first run the car popped out of 4th gear, and stalled when I tried to handbrake to counter, I jump started it mid corner, but the run was thrown in the bin essentially. Two runs left, pressure starting to mount a bit, 2nd run I put in a pretty OK run. It’s not one I’ll look back on with great pride, or one that wowed the crowd I’m sure, and I skipped over the massively high curb on the last corner that I knew would hinder my score a bit, but it was a lap that gave me a chance at least. My 3rd run I couldn’t afford to go mental in though, and that run was somewhat of a copy of the 2nd without jumping the last curb, although maybe not as tidy on entry. I finished qualifying not really knowing where I stood, or even if it was going to be the end of my weekend. There were 27 Super Pro drivers, and 24 would qualify (8 going direct into the top 16, and the other 16 battling to advance to that round), so surely I had done enough though? Then the big bombshell before the qualifying results. Due to council noise issues all classes would be cut from a top 32 to a top 16 (or top 24 to top 16 in our case) and the Sunday show would be cut shorter. Cue very nervous looks between myself and all my mates and family! During qualifying no scores are revealed out loud, so you really have no idea where you stand. They read out the names in the evening then for all classes, starting from 16 to 1. I was hoping to hear my name pretty soon, as I knew I had not done well enough to be in the top spaces. Not in 16th, not in 15th, not in 14th, not in 13th, sweat starting to form, not in 12th, nervous clapping for that lucky fecker who qualified, and then just as my head started to drop, there was “Brian Egan” sitting in 11th Get in! Due to an unfortunate engine problem with my Nankang Tyres teammate Mark Luney in his 1100+ bhp Supra, he had to drop out of competition, so I was actually promoted to 10th place.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-11

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-2

This meant that my Top 16 battle would be against Drift Allstars top driver Martin Richards, in the Skid Risk R33 Skyline which he was just driving for the weekend. A good and bad draw in a way really. Martin is an incredible driver so it was always going to be tough, but I also knew that the R33 that he was driving was not quite as high spec as some of the other Super Pro cars in the field, and that for maybe once, the pace advantage may actually be to myself! After checking my front tyre pressure we realised that I had 40 psi in my front left, and 30 psi in my front right….lol, probably should have checked that sooner! Changed them both to 25 psi. Then we set about cleaning out all the dirt and grime that had clogged my idle control valve, and this seemed to resolve the idling issue we discovered the next day.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-12

Main stage Sunday came, and I enjoyed watching all the Semi Pro and Pro battles as I waited eagerly on the Super Pro top 16 to begin. All week the weather for Sunday had promised monsoon like properties, yet by time I actually began my top 16 battle the track was practically bone dry. Being the lower qualifier I was to follow Martin first, and in the warmup lap I put in a good chase run. Confidence coming back. In the first run of the battle I left a little gap on entry as I knew I was faster, I had a little hiccup during the entry, and it wasn’t the smoothest, but as I closed in on Martin through the first corner I realised he was drifting further and further wide and off the qualifying line. “If you do not go for the gap”. I went for the very narrow sliver of room between Martin and the inside of the corner, and somehow I squeezed through, and I mean with literally what must have been a centimetre of clearance between my back bumper and his front bumper. But it was a sweet overtake, on the qualifying line, and I transitioned into the hairpin and pulled away from him up the hill and through the last corner. Confidence right back up there, now its game time, now I’m thinking of nailing this down and going the whole way. Now I’m back! My lead run wasn’t a particularly great lap, but it was clean and I pulled a bit of a gap again. I got the win and was through to the top 8. I pulled up with smoke at this point billowing into the cabin from the gearbox but with a big smile on my face. Had a laugh with Martin about the runs and then started thinking about the next one.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-4

My top 8 battle was to be against Mike Marshall. He is the 2013 BDC Super Pro Champion, an awesome driver, and has the Lydden Hill track completely dialled in. His Team MnM 1jz E36 Estate is surprising quick, and I knew it was going to be a very hard battle. I was to follow first again. I was not planning on leaving a gap in this one. I stayed right on Mikes LHS rear quarter down the straight but then he did something that somewhat put me off. He threw the car to the left first and initiated the drift over near the left hand side of the track. It meant I had no choice but to backoff for a split second and also meant I lost a little bit of ground and ended up entering much shallower than I had planned and making a mess of it on my own accord. It must be said that in no way was this a tactic from Mike, and it is just the way he enters this corner all the time, probably due to the large size of his E36 estate needing an extra bit of persuasion to get onto big angle. It was however something the judges had said would not really be allowed, so wasn’t something I had expected when chasing. I did the best I could with the rest of the run, but knew I was at a massive disadvantage.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-3

My game plan for the lead run was just going to be to try and completely blitz it with outright speed and make a gap, which hopefully would either cause Mike to over commit, or if a big enough gap was made, claw back the situation in my favour. However as I went flat from 1st to 2nd to…. to….wait to, no not 3rd, 4th maybe?….no 5th…. yes 5th as nothing else would work I had lost all speed, had messed up Mike trying to follow me as he nearly ran into the back of me, and entered in 5th trying to salvage something. It didn’t work, I managed to get 4th back through the hairpin as the wrong kind of smoke plumed out from the back of my little 86 and crossed the line a defeated man.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-9

The weekend was over, however due to my qualifying position I finished the round with 6th place and some valuable extra points. Although a bit disappointed in how I went out, and more so the fact I never really was on it all weekend, with hindsight I see it as a really positive result actually. Maximising rounds like this where things don’t quite fall into place, is something I’ve not been great at. So equalling my best ever BDC result in the first round of the season, when I never quite deserved a high finish really, is a start I’ll gladly take. I know I need time to adjust to all the new changes and get back to the maximum attack mode I was locked in towards the end of last season.

Autolifers-BDC-Brian-Egan-Nankang-UK-IDC-Trueno-F20C-supercharged-AE86-eyedea-media-6

Panic was on to try and figure out what was going wrong, and how to resolve it by Round 1 of the Irish Drift Championship that, by the time you are reading this, will have gotten underway. I flew back from England and immediately traveled around the country picking up and dropping off a new gearbox. This is really when the shear logistics and time frame of doing two championships in two different countries starts to get tough, especially when still trying to retain your vital day job to fund it all. Once the old one was removed we saw that it had completely split in half, and I mean completely in half with a gap in the middle. How that is even possible I’m not sure, and how it even drove as long as it did is probably a miracle. We’ve tried to strengthen this new gearbox, but now the massive dilemma of whether I do much badly needed practice, or try and save the car for the main event just in case, is the big item on the agenda. As of now I still don’t know what to do. I need practice to gain that confidence I keep talking about, but practice will all be in vain if I then end up missing the event as the gearbox again breaks. These S2000 gearboxes should be able to handle the power I’m putting through it no problem to be honest, and others with similar setups haven’t had these issues, so trying to find the route of the problem is now my biggest concern. And so until next time Autolifers, where the next instalment really could go any way at all, good luck…….and fingers crossed!
 
I’d like to thank my sponsors and people who have helped out: Nankang Tyres, Dealtwidth, Icetronix, Couture Auto, AP Performance, Image Wheels, Tom Lawlor Autobody, WKD Imports, Moorhead Motors, Paddy Brennan, Dave Egan, Eddie Power, Dan Moorhead and all the other many people along the way and at events.
 
Words: Brian Egan
Photos: Bill @ Eyedea Media
 

Comments