While the action happens on track, wether it be at our Barrel Sprint or Formula G events, we don’t really get to know the drivers who are developing and pushing the boundaries of our sport.
Ryan Milton, took some time out to talk Barrel Sprint and what made him join the series and how he holds the title to highest ranking MX5 driver
So firstly, who are you, what’s your race number and what do you do?
My name is Ryan Milton, I work as an IT supervisor, and I drive car number 116 in Formula G and Barrelsprint, it’s a 1995 Mazda MX5 Mk1, 1.8L engine.
What made you get into Formula G and Barrelsprint?
I was at a drift day, one of my friends mentioned the Fueltopia events and said I should give them a try. I went along to give it a go and after my first round I was absolutely hooked!
How did you get started? What did you need?
At the start I just turned up with the usual track day tools, but that has changed now! Nowadays I tow the car to events and take full spare set of wheels and tools. I also take a gazebo to make my own pit area and keep everything covered.
When I first came to support, you were running road tyres and N/A power and still did pretty well. Since then, everyone’s stepped their game up, the grid has gotten bigger and semi-slicks are common.
How did you respond to that?
I followed suit and started to run Yokohama AD08s, I also upped the power to match, running a TD04 turbo kit that makes 183hp at 7psi and 223hp 9psi, depending on which map I use. That has dramatically improved the car and kept it competitive!
How do you prepare yourself going into an event?
Before it was just pack the car like normal, few tools and that was it. This season I prepared the car before each event, making sure it was clean and tidy and checking everything over. Spanner check etc. Before the Formula G events, as soon as I get the map guide I save it as my phone wallpaper to help me remember it in the buildup.
Throughout the day there’s various practice sessions and then you go into the battles.
What do you do differently in each?
The first few runs I take it slower, working out if it’s faster to stay in 1st or 2nd, finding the best lines and working out if I need slide at points or if the car has enough grip to drive some points.
What was your highlight of the year?
This is a tough one. It’s been a great year… I really enjoyed Drift Matsuri at the beginning of the year, I’ve picked up some great sponsors and support over the year too. Also, being invited to demonstrate the sport at Coventry Motofest and showing off for the crowd has to be a highlight. I love the showmanship and chance to entertain a crowd!
Any low points?
Has to be the first round of Formula G. The conditions were awful, which meant my car had the advantage. Being light and lower-powered, I can put down all of my limited power where the heavier and higher powered cars struggle more. I really got on with the track, but made a mistake in the final battle which meant I got a DNF. I missed a gear change on the back straight, and when I looked up again I had lost the zone and wasn’t sure which side of a barrel to go. I guessed wrong and it got me a DNF. Technically it was slower, and I still finished a good distance ahead, but there’s no coming back from a DNF and ultimately I lost the battle!
What have you learned from this season to carry forward?
Smooth is fast. Being delicate with controls gets the most out of the car. Aggressive driving may look cool but it’s not the fastest way around the course.
What are your plans for next season?
I’m taking a lot of weight out of the car. MX-5s aren’t heavy, but weight is everything. I’m also going to start doing things like running half tank of fuel instead of full tank. I may try some different tyres, and few other setup tweaks too.
What’s your favourite part of each event?
For me, it’s the parts in between practice, chatting with the other racers and friends and the whole Fueltopia family. On track, it’s the adrenaline buzz when watching the lights and getting ready to launch!
Do you have any advice for people who want to get into the sport?
Just do it! You can have a go in whatever car you drive. There’s classes for front, rear and all-wheel drive. Everyone is super helpful and friendly, and the atmosphere is fantastic!
Thanks to Bryn Willams for the interview
Pictures supplied by driver & team and credit to those respectively