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DCA : The dome, round 3

DCA has been making its’ way around the country and has finally landed in Victoria.  Everyone was excited to see Drift challenge Australia at the dome.  And after seeing DCA at Raliegh raceway earlier in the year, I had some idea of what to expect.

There was a considerable line to get in to Calder Park, despite the early morning start.  Once through the gates, the drivers scrambled to roll their cars off in time for the drivers briefing.  The infamous battle master Stewy Byant had made the long tip to Victoria and was looking fresh, even if the car wasn’t.

Peering in through the window, I spotted a monster tacho along with many other gauges… but no speedo?  This worried me!  What kind of badasses were we dealing with?  With lots of interstate drivers competing at the event, the mix of cars was inspiring to say the least.

Chelsea DeNofa, a well know Formula Drift driver from the United States, was the special international guest at round 3.  This was the first time Chelsea had seen the car he was driving and he was a little underwhelmed with it.

In all the events that have been held at Calder Park Thunder Dome, never have I seen such an unconventional track layout.  At first I was shocked, then confused, but once I saw a few cars run the track, it quickly grew on me!  It was not the conventional FD Asia / ADGP layout we are all used to, it was something new with components of old track layouts

Simon Michelmore is never one to shy away from competition.  This weekend he was driving his backup car, the R33 Skyline as his competition car was getting a much needed overhaul.

Luke Broadbent’s Nissan Cefiro is never short on power thanks to his super committed pit crew.  Luke is a strong performer and he has the talent and car to take him to the top.

A surprise number one qualifier was Warick Fitzgerald in his giant sleighing turbo mx5.  He stunned the judges with the most perfect run of Saturdays’ practice.  He also won a $250 voucher to Cartel Online for winning qualifying.

A great thing about DCA is the fact that passengers get to ride all day long, even during battles!  This is good for the passenger and the balanced weight factor.

Shaun Gilbert is one experienced driver who has driven all over the world.  Here you can see him battling Luke Mudde for a spot in the top 16.

Shaun has not lost any confidence since a recent crash at Ebisu Japan, where he flipped his car and ended up knocked out for 4 minutes.  He is a true warrior, with so many epic battles over the weekend – he has to be one of the best chase car performers of the weekend.

Tearing it up in your street car is what DCA is all about! Fun drifting  – with no bullshit pressure.

The top 16 battles where hectic!  And with so much talent and so many big names, one star was sure to fall.  The unfortunate driver to make the mistake was Matt Russell in his mighty 86 up against a Cefiro that had at least twice the power of the 86.

Two of the best and most exciting drivers of the weekend had to be Simon and Stewy.  Always on the edge, with full commitment and plenty of flare!  This pair know how to entertain the crowd whilst managing to look cool.

The Calder Park Thunderdome can be very unforgiving and running too low here can cause all sorts of problems because of elevation changes.  Yet we have never seen an ecu loom jump out and get chewed before.  This little mishap caused Simon most of Saturdays’ track time!  Rewiring an ecu loom is no easy feat.

Guest driver Chelsea DeNofa learned quickly to drive on the right side whilst driving a foreign car and if that’s not enough, he also had to deal with a crazy tight track layout.

Chelsea’s skills where evident! With top level hair splitting accuracy, he was involved in many drift trains and epic battles over the weekend – he soon mastered the track.

With enough power to launch a satellite into orbit, Michael Bony created artificial clouds all day long!  He didn’t impress the judges though, hitting clipping points while keeping things smooth is what the judges where looking for, not a power display.

Our man Jason Ferron was out in his trusty R31.  Having competed in every DCA round so far, Jason knew what to expect.  But the unexpected happened!  The welds broke on his diff centre, which meant he had to qualify in Justin Stocker’s rb25 Cefiro.  After qualifying, Jason luckily got his mate to retrieve a minispool from Jason’s house.  The car was repaired in time for his battle against Denofa, in which Jason spun on the lead lap loosing him the battle.  This will be the last time we will get to see the old blue R31 as Jason is upgrading to a wagon and we cannot wait to see him back on track.

Ensuing carnage where ever he went, Johnny from Manic Racing sure knew how to get the crowd going! Not qualifying on the Saturday because of car dramas really didn’t hurt his enthusiasm on track.

On Sunday he was out again being crazy and putting paint on every wall!  Johnny literately drove the wheels of his R34 Skyline, putting everything on the line, pushing all the boundary’s and smashing a new shape into the car.

Mitchell Sanders after staring out in the ke70 and not being able to make it work the way he wanted, cracked it and told organisers that he would be late for qualifying.  He went and did a 2 hour round trip to pick up the cClica that had sitting on his front lawn, untouched since driving it back from DCA round 2.  Once back at Calder Park, Mitchell changed tyres, fluids and the car felt better than it ever had!  After putting down a few laps to get a handle on the layout, it was time to put down a qualifying run.  The run was good enough for 14th place and a top 32 against Aaron Dewar, which he went on to win before being defeated by Jordan Graham in the top 16.

There was plenty of action on and off the track.  The crowd on Sunday was a lot bigger than the crowd on Saturday, yet the action was equally good on both days.  The harsh drop off on the dome was damaging all the cars, especially people who hit it on weird angles, they were bending tie rods, snapping wheels and bottoming out suspension.
Below are a few sample videos of what it looked like to drift the dome at DCA.

Chasing Warick Fitzgerald within the drift train.

On board with Warick Fitzgerald.

The view from the middle of the track.

These are your top drivers for round three.
1st Chelsea DeNofa
2nd Josh Robinson
3rd Moe Elhaouli
4th Jordan Graham
Round 4 is set to be one hell of an event with the promise of Ryan Tuerck as the special international guest.  Drift Challenge Australia is really bringing the best drifters together into one competition.  Luke Fink should be very proud of what he has created in his first year and we know it is only set to get bigger and better.
Thanks for reading,

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The drift obsession runs deep! Watch out I may even try to battle you on Assetto.

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