There may be many things we strive to achieve in our driving lives – smoother technique, faster lap times, better car control. But really, if we are honest with ourselves, we want to master one thing: a big drift.
In many ways the drift is a slightly pointless and slower way of getting around a corner, not to mention the connotations of tricked-out Supras with neon lights and nitrous, Enkeis spinning furiously. But that doesn’t stop us wanting to achieve the perfect power slide.
Luckily I got the chance to become more crab-like in my driving on Friday when I headed down to Millbrook to join the Autocar Drift Day, run by Westfield. The secretive world of Millbrook is always interesting to see and it was a great opportunity to meet some of the readers, and a lovely bunch they were too.
Westfield brought down two stripped-out 1.6-litre Ford-engined cars, one with 135bhp and 150bhp, fitted with low grip tyres on the back and stickies on the front. The rear suspension is also softer, all of which make the cars drift easier.
First up we tackled a course of cones, including a few hairpins, sweeping curves and a pile of cones to donut around. The first lesson of the day is it is not as easy as it looks. Most people could unsettle the back of the car and usually catch it, but balancing the car somewhere in-between was the hard part.
Driving rain followed by blazing sunshine made things interesting but after a few different tasks and, in my case at least, constant reiteration of the same points from my ever-patient teacher, some balletic slides were starting to appear. These were usually followed by half a dozen cones being retrieved from the bottom of the car, but it was progress at least.
It was difficult to see anyone who hadn’t improved significantly throughout the day, although on the timed laps in the wet it soon became clear that driving, not drifting, was a quicker way around the track. £199 for a day is not cheap and drifting may not ensure the best lap times, but finding out how to control a car when it slides and what happens when you don’t is far more fun at Millbrook than it is on a busy public road.