If you’ve been following our socials over the past few weeks, you will have see that our very own Ian Phillips, has been representing Tegiwa Racing in Europe. Having taken the trip to compete in the Nurburgring Drift Cup with his supercharged LS3 350Z, here’s what Bizz had to say on his time in Germany:
“This was the first time that I had been out of country drifting, so it was already a special experience but being able to do it at the Nurburgring for the Skylimit Drift Cup made it even more special! The trip was originally planned for 2020 where we then hoped to do Iron Drift King the week after. Almost as soon as I had booked the tickets, COVID hit and the world stopped. Fast forward two years and here we are.
The long trip, via Dover, took us around 16 hours to complete and we arrived at a foggy Nurburgring, with some rented single seaters doing some practice on the bit of track we would be drifting on. GT Masters was also on the same weekend we were there, so the ring was a hive of activity. All we had to do on Friday was set up in the pits, clean the car and go through scrutineering, which was great as we were all exhausted.
Saturday – Qualifying
Saturday didn’t start so well as I set my alarm incorrectly, being woken by my team only 20mins before briefing so that was a shock but we made it in time. The briefing was a new experience as well being given in German, followed by a UK translation. Turns out the UK translation was only about 20% of the German but nevertheless we got the important points and went to set the car up ready for its first laps of the GP circuit.
I set off from the line on my first lap and it quickly became apparent we had a misfire on the LS3. This was a surprise as the car ran faultlessly on the dyno only a few days prior and this started a long day of fault finding, telephone calls to my mapper John and engine specialist Craig. Although we had three practice sessions before qualifying, they quickly finished with us trying other things to find the source of the fault. New NGK spark plugs got fitted and new leads left us only to believe it was a coil pack or something more significant at fault.
It was now time for qualifying, I went out not knowing if the car would be ok or not so I just gave it everything and she ran smoothly. The run was pretty good, one of the best of the day giving me 75 points. We checked the car over and went out for my second. During this run, the car misfired badly, affecting my run in speed and ruining my line so I got zero points for that one. Luckily, at NDC you’re given three qualifying laps. This time, knowing the misfire would happen, I managed to work around it, laid down a good lap and got 84 points BUT had no idea where that put me in the field of drivers.
The qualifying results were read out in the NDC tent, where all the drivers and teams gathered to hear how they had done. They started off at 32, with Denise Ritzmann taking that spot, after having a load of throttle body issues. The positions kept on increasing and by the time we got 15th we thought with my runs I hadn’t made the cut so we all started to look a bit disheartened and thought we would spend Sunday watching from the grandstand. Then all of a sudden “8th place – Ian Phillips” came from Andy Jaenen! We couldn’t believe it, not only were we in the game but in a competitive spot for Sunday’s competition. Now it is time to fix the car!!!
One thing we really did enjoy about the qualification results was that everybody in the tent applauded every driver for their qualification position and the top qualifier got a trophy too. This is something that has gotten a little lost in UK drifting but it reminded me of the older days in BDC.
The team worked tirelessly into the night, Adele went out and got the full team pizzas as our plan to head into town for a nice evening meal and few beers was well and truly gone by this point. They checked the wiring, valve springs, leads, changed all eight coil packs to the spares that Denise kindly loaned to us and found a cracked spark plug. At 10pm we fired the LSZ up and instead of the popping and banging at 2000 rpm like before, she ran as smooth as silk. We all cheered, pushed the car into the gazebo and headed to the apartments to get some rest ready for Sunday.
Sunday – Battles
Sunday started off with some open practice, where I managed to get Adele into the passenger seat for a couple of laps. I couldn’t hear her screaming but the videos show some pretty amazing facial expressions as she had never been in the car at that speed before! On the first lap the car stalled out at the bottom of Little Monaco and wouldn’t restart so we had to get the “tow of shame” back to the hot pits only to find the fuse that controlled the injectors and ignition coils had blown. A new, better quality fuse was put in and away we went.
Battle practice followed, giving me the chance to see what lines other drivers were taking, what speed they entered at, etc. It quickly became apparent that I was entering much faster than most, meaning I would have to lift in the chase position or give more space at that part of the circuit. Otherwise we were always close to chase and gave me a good confidence boost before the battles in the afternoon.
Battles started with me against the Frenchman, Mickael Nuss. I led first, as the higher qualifier always leads in the first half of a battle. I laid down a good first lap, noticing a metallic grinding sound as I went around the first corner. Adam Simmons was my spotter and let me know that Mikael had spun/come off track behind me so I knew I didn’t have to be on his door from the start line. I gave Mikael a little space in the run up so I could build my speed as I wanted and I quickly caught him up through the Schumacher S and Little Monaco and the run was over. Even though I was granted the win, I couldn’t help but notice that metallic noise again just after initiation. I called the team and they ran down knowing we had about 20 mins before my next battle. It turned out that I had sheared the transmission mounting bolt so that it could float at certain speeds. The car was jacked up and Matt got underneath with Bret firing tools at him so the captivated part of the bolt could be drilled out and a new one fitted. Whilst this was going on Nathan and V were videoing everything for the vlog and Adele and Adam were watching the other battles to see who I would be up against next. It was a relief when Matt shouted “Done!” from under the car and I headed off to the start line with time to spare.
Next up was a very cool Porsche 968 driven by Hospach Ingo, V8 powered and Adam had let me know he was on road tyres and to give him some extra space in chase. The battle ended up with us door on door over the line which pleased the crowd and allowed us to progress through to the Great 8.
This battle was against a boss kitted S14 with a Hellcat engine. After speaking with the driver, Stoeckli Roger, I found out he also had over 1000Nm in his monster and we knew this battle was going to sound amazing if nothing else. He pushed too hard behind me and spun out just after the Schumacher S meaning I had the advantage going into the chase. I followed closely knowing he had the power to run away if I wasn’t careful but he had no answer for the speed of the LSZ meaning I progressed into the Top 4 against the gentleman, Clint Van Oort. Clint had been a massive part in our weekend, helping to source parts for the misfire and guiding us through how this event worked. He’s a great driver and from the moment I saw him on the entry list I hoped that we would get a chance to battle.
Clint qualified higher than myself so he led, just before I set off I got a message from Adam saying “don’t give him an inch”. I knew it was going to be a close battle but that spurred me on even more. We set off with me keeping by his side up to the acceleration cone, at which point we both dropped the hammer with me tucked in close behind. On initiation, I could see his trailing front wheel was locked from left foot braking and I was close enough to stay out of the clouds of smoke from his rear tyres. We transitioned at the same time and decelerated ready for the Little Monaco corner. At this point I kept coming off the handbrake ready to apply power as soon as I started to see him accelerate again. We went up the hill with only a couple of feet between us and over the finish line. I was so happy with that and it was the best I had chased anyone before. Now it was Clint’s turn to chase. I threw everything I had at it, putting in a quality lead line, all the time I was seeing flashes of Clint’s yellow S14 in the wing mirrors. His chase was brilliant. The judges couldn’t split us apart so asked for a “One More Time”.
Usually in the UK this is two runs, where both drivers get an opportunity to lead and chase as per normal. For this series the top qualifier gets to choose if they lead or chase and the decision is made after one run. I didn’t know that at the time so I went in expecting the same battle format as before.
Clint chose to lead, this time I knew I had to push even harder but unfortunately he pulled more of a gap going up Little Monaco and with the one run decision from the judges the win was awarded to Clint. I can’t complain as it was so much fun and even his team were applauding my efforts. They’re a top bunch of lads.
That wasn’t it for me though, I now was in the battle for 3rd and 4th against Johnny Voogdt in his E36 M3 BMW. He qualified 3rd and had been laying down perfect lines all weekend. I followed well, giving him some space at the beginning of the run and tucking in close towards the end. I did get caught up on the inside of his car at the bottom of Little Monaco and had to readjust which I knew the judges would have spotted. On my lead, I accelerated away putting in a great line and making a big gap between Johnny and I. Just before the finish line I dropped a wheel off the edge of the circuit into the gravel. Even with my good lead line, those two small mistakes gave Johnny the win.
Now it was time for the award ceremony where I was awarded “Best Chase Run” for the battles against Clint. I know I hadn’t got on the podium but in my eyes this was just as good as a win. It marks a significant improvement in my driving, both at speed and in proximity so I was over the moon. It also meant that the car and I were very popular, I was the only UK driver and the only Nissan 350z, being bright orange in Alloy Wheel Shops colours helped too! We made lots of new friends that I hope to drive against again soon and LOTS of new fans.
For the first time drifting outside of the country it was a brilliant experience and I will be looking for opportunities to do it again in 2023, hopefully with more time to prepare and take a bigger team.
Part 1 of the vlog is live on my YouTube channel @bizzdrift and part 2 will be released shortly. Thanks for reading!”