Mid 2016 Baggsy and the team headed to the Top Secret Ladoux Test Centre in France. An impressive tyre testing facility with 20 test tracks 45 km long in total, used for grip tests on wet or dry surfaces, handling tests, noise tests, comfort tests and more. But Baggsy wasn’t here for tyre testing, he was in the centre of France to teach Richard Hammond how to drift, properly! With filming well underway for the much anticipated ‘The Grand Tour’ Richard Hammond was keen to learn the correct techniques of professional drifters. First off he would need an instructor and a fully prepared drift car. His fellow Grand Tour hosts Jeremy Clarkson and James May had this covered in the form of Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni and his 700hp V8 S13.
With Hammond already knowing a thing or two about power sliding some of the worlds most powerful cars, it was time for Baggsy to teach him how to harness this skill and apply the correct techniques required for competitive drifting. First up would be the infamous clipping points. And what better to teach someone about clipping points than mounting watermelons on top of mini cones. At least you know if you hit them, there is no way of hiding that. Along with clipping points, Hammond would have to learn how to hold a drift with maximum angle and the correct way to transition. Skills that many drivers perfect over years of practice all crammed into a couple of days.
So with the crash course in drifting complete, the next stop for Hammond and Baggsy would be the famous Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, UK. It was time for Richard Hammond to put his newly learnt skills to the test in a judged drift competition against Bartosz Ostałowski from Poland and Conor Shanahan from Ireland. On the judging panel was Mark ‘Sweeps’ Buckle, Julian Smith and Luke Woodham. Much to the surprise of Hammond the competition was tough, with Bartosz Ostałowski famously drifting with only his legs after loosing his arms in a motorcycle accident and Conor Shanahan only being 13, he soon realised this wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Under the watchful eye of Baggsy, Hammond would get behind the wheel of the V8 S13 beast and take to the track for his judged run. He managed a very respectable run only taking down two clipping points. The hard work and training had paid off, Richard Hammond had successfully competed in a drift competition.
‘The Grand Tour’ decided to save the best till last and the segment can be seen in the last episode of the first series now streaming on Amazon Prime. With ‘The Grand Tour’ tent making a stop in Dubai for the final episode, Jeremy Clarkson is now delighted he has a playmate to drift with. Roll the cinematic montage of Hammond and Clarkson drifting McLaren P1’s, Porsche 318 Spyder’s and Ferrari LaFerrari’s. Make sure to watch the episode now, you won’t be disappointed, even if Hammond did only score 2 for his drifting.
Baggsy: I have always been a fan of the Clarkson, Hammond and May trio and to have the opportunity to feature on their much anticipated new show “The Grand Tour’ was a dream come true. Richard and all the crew behind the scenes were an absolute pleasure to work with, and we had a lot of fun! It was great to show these guys the true sport of drifting and hopefully give an insight to the viewers of what we really do. It’s great to get drifting into the mainstream and hopefully boost its profile. The whole experience really was awesome and I have to give a big thank you to all those involved, and to my sponsors and team. None of this would have been possible without them. The episode is now live and streaming on Amazon prime, so go check it out. I really hope you all enjoy watching it as much as we did creating it.