This would be a new experience for me. Not only it being my first drift event but also my first with Media Credentials. When applying for the credentials, I got the notion that the event was going to be pretty strict and that I may not even my credentials. But after signing in and settling into my environment, my whole perception changed.
The track was simple and close and the people were friendly. I don't think I could've asked for a better day for my first time with a Media cred.
During the driver's meeting, I noticed that there was not a single cloud in the sky. But I guess that's why people had brought their smoke machines over to Calder Park in the first place. Time to make some clouds!
But first, lets check out the pit lane, which had been set up on Calder Park's Thunderdome.
Although there were plenty of Silvia's and Skylines, there were a few oddballs as well.
Those oddballs included Jamie Mackie's XY Falcon and Alex Voigt's Mazda Bravo. I can't even imagine how it would be like to drive them.
So, then practice came. There'd be a lot of action during these next hours. Drivers would - during this time - be finding and pushing their limits.
That's how clouds are made, kids!
The first major mishap of the day was when Chris Baldyga's 350Z blew, leaking coolant. But there was no need to clean up the spillage as it had all gone down a conveniently placed drain.
Watching these drivers push to the absolute limit to get the perfect lap was truly amazing to watch and shoot. Throughout the afternoon and into the night, the bar would just keep getting raised.
During qualifying, each driver would have as many runs as they wanted during the given time to get their perfect lap.
As there were 61 drivers who entered, that meant 29 would not make it into the Top 32.
The driver who would qualify first would be Chris Dejager, followed by two drivers from SA, Dale Campaign and Nathan Greenhill.
I certainly wound not have liked to be a cone during this qualifying session.
Throughout the rounds of 32, 16, 8 and the Finals, there'd be plenty of close battles and drama.
One particular moment of drama in the early stages was when Joseph Egen and Tony Church came together during the switchback into Turn 2. This left Tony Church's Sil-Eighty properly damaged. He would have 5 minutes to repair his car. But after 5 minutes he came out driving another black Silvia.
Robert Simpson and Shaun Smith also came together, leaving Smith's R31 far off the track and Simpson waving out the window of his 180SX.
One particular battle that stood out was between Dean Newcomb and Leigh Pidwell. With Leigh going on three wheels during his lead run, and then spinning out during his chase run, he was lucky to get a rerun. During that rerun, he won, making it into the next round.
In between runs, the drivers would drive back onto the main straight and back to the pits. But some would make sure more clouds were made.
After the Top 16 and Top 8, it would be Chris Dejaga, Dale Campaign, Nathan Greenhill and Leigh Pidwell who would be fighting it out for the Final.
After an intense first battle, the judges would call for a rerun. During the rerun, Chris Dejaga would go off during his lead run, and then stopped after turn 2 in his chase run, giving Dale Campaign the clear victory.
Nathan Greenhill and Leigh Pidwell would fight it out for third in two extremely close battles. Greenhill though, would take home third.
It was incredible to see so many drivers attend the first round of VicDrift and so many close battles full of tension. Congrats again to Dale Campaign from South Australia, showing all us Victorians how it's done.