France’s major RC Drift competition Grip Zero was so good last year, Bop and I decided to go to Roanne again a few weeks ago. A 1000km trip awaited us on friday morning and Bop and I were ready to hit the road in Bop’s tiny Mazda. With a year of practicing packing light, we even had space left in the car. We were on our way for yet another awesome weekend in France!
After a surprisingly smooth and fast trip we landed in Roanne, at the same hotel we booked last year. Our friday night practice got spoiled though, as we ran short of petrol. Oh well, at least we worked off our steak dinner and after finally fueling up again we had a comfortable bed to crash on. After a little Formula D and wrenching on the car offcourse.
Arriving at the Sushi Slide venue, we were greeted by an amazing looking track with lots and lots of scenery all around. These guys all bring some scenery, and with 50 entries thats more than enough to fill the track and make it look beautiful. And offcourse there were the French and Swiss friends we had not seen for almost a year.
Grip Zero still has HPI T-drifts as their control tire, while here in Holland we switched to Yokomo for 2013. The T-drifts took no time to get used to though, both Bop and I got the hang of them in no more than 5 minutes I think.
We first got to drive on the competition track in our scheduled practice sessions. The drivers got seperated in to 5 groups, and to be honest, my group wasn’t that good. I didn’t know anyone in my group, and didn’t get a lot of good tandem runs. Without a specified starting order it felt like anarchy at the starting line sometimes. At least I got a few very good solo runs in, and the layout of the track felt great. It had a few challenging wallrides, but the flow was super and I had fun driving it. Bop had a better practice group and he was doing very good aswell. We both felt confident for qualifying.
It was at the practice track, which was a new addition for this year, where we got to drive with everyone. This is where it became very clear the local drivers really improved over the past year. These guys are good! Having a practice track was nice. It allowed us to try a few different settings and have some fun without the pressure of having only 15 minutes to drive like in the practice sessions.
In the afternoon it was time for qualifying. The organisers started off with a drivers briefing, explaining the track and the rules. To show the ideal drifting line, all the cars were set up on the track following the ideal line and angle. This was inspired by some Japanese RC drifting series, and its a good way to visualize what the judges are looking for during a qualifying run. We should really do this too at D1:10!
The judges for the weekend were Julien and Dydy, who did a great job! Respect for giving up driving to take on the massive job of judging so many runs.
Saturday morning my radio decided it didn’t want to work, and luckilly thanks to our buddy David of Project33 I got a Spektrum radio set so I could practice and qualify. My qualifying runs were a little bit shaky though, as I still wasn’t used to the slower response of the Spektrum set. I saw so many good runs already during the day, I did not know what to expect, but felt like my run was good enough for a top16 spot. Nerves got the better of Bop during his qualifying and he made a few small mistakes, but still had put down decent runs. When we got the scores I had a sigh of relief as I came in 13th. Bop was not so lucky though, as he came in 34th which put him somewhere in the semi-pro finals (C-poule). With so many good qualifying scores, the little loss of points meant a massive drop in the ranks. Not all was lost, as last year 2 drivers jumped their finales so there was still a good chance for Bop.
That night we had a little bit of international Roadstercrew action shooting with Juliens MX5. Can’t wait to see the car on its new wheels next month at the Euro’s. The evening also included some hooning on the parkinglot. The gravel was just too much fun for Bop to pass up.
Sunday started slow for us. With 2 sets of finals to go before we we’re up, we had plenty of time for breakfast, some fun slowmotion RC-Art tandem sessions and a few photo shoots with Sebastian. Bop’s Team Orange FC doesn’t get out much, but when it does its turning heads! Still one of my favorite bodyshells from the 2012 Euro’s.
Around noon it was Bop’s turn to do battle. In the practice session before the finals a lot of the drivers were very inconsistent. He was paired up with one of the Project33 guys driving an awesome looking PS13. Unfortunatly for Bop, the inconsistency of his rival caught him off-guard. The S13 went way wide before cutting in for the first inner clippingpoint. Bop got stuck between the S13 and the apex and went off track on the ICP. A killer lead run was not enough to make up for the mistake and Bop was out. It always sucks to lose the first battle of the day, but at least he got to enjoy the beautiful weather outside (24*C and very sunny!), while I was still nervous at the track for my first battle.
It was in the Expert finals (A-poule) where the battles finally got interesting. I knew it would be hard for me to repeat my result from last year, but with my own transmitter working again I was feeling good. My first battle was with Julien, who I had not driven with yet. I also did not see him practice a lot, so I didn’t know what to expect. I went a bit safe and was lucky to pull a gap on my lead run. My chase run was also a bit safe, but it was enough to take the win. Next up was another new driver for me; Fabio and his yellow AE86 ‘Rolla. With the same tactics as my first battle I got the win again. This time though, the battle was much closer and the level of driving was only going up from here. I needed to step up my game!
For the top4 battle I was paired up with Ovomal’s Jean-Philipe. JP was driving incredibly well all weekend and he was very fast too.. While I was one of the slower cars on the track. I was first to lead, and knowing JP was quick I needed to get all the speed I could get from the startline. I pushed a bit too hard on the second outer clip, and hit the wall and had to re initiate my drift. On the follow run I followed super close, up to the point where I thought I was going to hit the orange S13 of JP. He kept cool and did not cave under the pressure I was putting on him, and took the win. Well deserved!
I was not done yet though, as for the 3rd place battle I got the match up I was waiting for all weekend. Nuno lost his top 4 battle to Johan, so we had to fight for the last step of the podium. Again I had to lead first, and Nuno chased me down with very good proximity. I had to go all out for my chase run, it was my last change to get on the podium. So I did go all out, and unlike JP Nuno did cave under the pressure and made the same mistake as in his previous battle. Combined with the first run I had the advantage and took 3rd place. I am very happy with the results and had some amazing battles. Its fun to drive with these guys, and it always makes for a good show. Just look at all the pictures to see what I mean!
During the trophy ceremony Team Sushi Slide surprised Bop and me with the Prix Speciale, which included the awesome Sushi Slide team shirts for both of us. Thanks so much guys! I hope we can return the favour soon!
So we ended our weekend with the traditional trophy picture on the back of the Beunos. The weekend was amazing, thanks to all the work the people from Grip Zero, Sushi Slide and all the others put in to the event combined with beautiful weather, great food and great driving. We can not thank everyone enough! Next year we’ll be back for sure!
Special thanks to:
Pierre and the rest of the Grip Zero crew
Team Sushi Slide!
David Plechot for translating and providing me with a spare radio
Team Stapam, Project33, Team Skud, RCDrift Ouest and Zombie Drift for the stickers and merchandise
Our sponsors and supporters: HIRO SEIKO, ZILLAlife, Tonisport and RC OMG
All our pictures can be found on our facebookpage