With the 2013 Drift season underway now it was difficult to think what to fill these pages with. Event reporting is not really our thing, so instead we are going to bring you short sharp stories of life in the paddock and the dramas and triumphs associated with competing in professional Drifting. We will start this with the trials and tribulations of Team Lucas Oils at BDC round One.
As I mentioned in the ‘Perfect Storm’ post, Team Lucas oils have dramatically changed the former team SATS Supra over the winter months. However big changes don’t always mean instant improvement, round one was always going to be a leap of faith for the team with the first real testing to be done at the opening round of the championship.
From the opening laps of the first Super-Pro practice session it was clear that the winters work had not been in vain. The car looked a like a totally different machine to the 2012 incarnation. Massively fast but now with the grip to use the 2JZ power much more effectively. It was flying!
The second practice session did not go as well though. Seconds after this photo was taken the Supra lost all power and driver Mark Luney limped a very sick sounding race car pack to the pits.
As I walked up to the Lucas Oils pits Mark Luney was out of his race suit and there was a flurry of activity around the open bonnet of the Supra. Sensing this was not a situation that sticking my lens into would help in any shape or form, I hung round the back of the pits to keep out-of-the-way and hopefully find out what was going on. A somber shake of the head from Kerry Palmer indicated trouble, and as Brad O’Nians and James Russel parted a very low compression gauge conformed it, no compression on cylinders one or two. With just a few hours to qualifying, game over?..
..Nope not an option! With the rain now poring down the decision was made to run the car on the four remaining ‘good’ cylinders and hope that it would be enough on the sodden track qualify for the following days main event, then try to repair the damaged engine over night.
However, with the unrelenting rain turning parts of the track into what resembled a lake,The British Drift Championship elected to postpone Super-Pro Qualifying until the following day and hopefully drier conditions.
So breathing space. But with no compression on two Cylinders something is seriously wrong. At best a head-gasket, at worst destroyed pistons or valves. Neither option a particularly appetizing one with limited spares and when the only workshop available is a gazebo being battered with torrential rain.
With the head removed the problem was clear. A failed fuel pump had caused massive DET and blown through the head-gasket on cylinders one and two. Luckily the pistons and valves had escaped and serious damage but the head was not as lucky. The super-heated gasses under massive pressure had cut a channel in the aluminum head as they passed between the cylinders.
With no tooling available to true the head it was a case of ‘make do and mend’. The channel was filled with chemical metal then after a few hours under a UV light to cure it trimmed back with a Stanley knife blade. Not ideal but hey, you gotta do what ya gotta do. With the head ‘repaired’ and a new gasket sourced, all that was left was for Brad, James, Bill and Chris of Team Lucas oils to work through the night and the torrential rain to reassemble the engine.
Like most UK race tracks Lydden Hill has to abide by strict noise regulations. So even though the engine rebuild was finished in the early hours of Sunday morning, the team couldn’t even flick the starter to see if it worked until thirty minutes before qualifying began.
So with a new fuel pump, head-gasket and a tube of metallic toothpaste keeping the combustion in the cylinders Team Lucas oils made it out into qualifying firing on all six.
Where Driver Mark Luney rewarded the teams hard work in the best way possible.. Straight to the number one spot for the top sixteen finals!
The car continued to run flawlessly through some intense battles and narrowly missing out on podium finish behind David Waterworth, Simon Perry and 2012 champion Paul Smith.
This is just one story of the lengths a team will go to make sure their car is on the grid, and I’m sure over the coming season there will be many many more.
Thanks to Brad O’Nians for the additional images.