PROFESSIONAL DRIFTING: Hi-Tec Drift Rd5 @ Wakefield Park

After attending the last Revolution Motorsport drift day last month I was lucky to receive a free ‘wild card’ entry into the Pro-Am class at the final round of the Hi-Tec drift series which was also held at Wakefield Park. My free entry did not mean that I was the best driver at the Revolution day (Jake from Team Red Stage took those honours) but I was one of the only people to have a proper full CAMS spec roll cage which I believe was why I got picked. I’d actually been hoping to attend this day for a while as I thought it would be the best opportunity to use my Sileighty instead of the R32 so I was pretty pumped to get a free entry!

Given there was only one weekend between the practice day and the competition it was a bit of a rush to sort my car out in time. Luckily Eiji, Rob and Jake all came around and helped fix it up and get it ready to drive. This included fitting a bodykit, fabricating a front reo to hold it up, getting a wheel alignment, fixing a fuel leak and sorting out wheels and tyres. As I don’t have my own trailer yet I borrowed Eiji’s to get the car to the track.

The event took place over Friday/Saturday with the Friday being a practice day that is also open to the public. At a guess there were 5-10 entrants who were only there for the practice day. From what I’ve personally seen these events don’t really have the advertising reach on social media that other clubs seem to generate so a lot of people don’t know about them. These days (known at ‘Drift 4 Real’) only make use of the ‘short course’ which would probably put some people off. Interestingly the practice day went from 9am-5pm which is an hour later than regular drift days run. Track time was therefore plentiful with there only being a couple of people still driving after 4.

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Luckily we were given a briefing on the qualifying line in the morning so I was able to practice it all day. This was good as the line through the first corner was very different to what I’ve been running for the last 7 years! The competition layout uses the ‘short course’ with the start line being in the normal spot. Through the first kink the judges were looking for a middle line which is often the line I take although I actually try to take a wide line through the kink. Through the main part of turn one I take a late apex as I come in from the outside of the kink. For the competition though they were looking for a wide line around the very edge of the corner. The reason I take the line I do is I make the kink and the corner itself into one turn – as you can see by my rudimentary drawing. The Hi-Tec line on the other hand more accentuates the straight between the two. The issue for me is with my standard knuckles I didn’t have enough lock (even with lock spacers) to drive sideways on the small straight. For that reason I had to use the handbrake to push the car out wide which the judges didn’t want to see. To confound the issue I was also running on stock boost due to my boost controller failing which made it even harder!

Because the first corner tightened up a lot on the Hi-Tec judged line I was having trouble even linking the first and second corner while my car was down on power. To try and help this I disconnected my front sway bar which made the car more loose and easier to keep sideways at lower speeds. In the future I will probably look at putting a stock sway bar in the front instead of my big and chunky Whiteline one.

For the most part I just wanted to do tandems runs so that I could get a better idea of how everyone drove as I hadn’t been up against many of the drivers before. Unfortunately pretty much everyone just wanted to do solo runs on the Friday, or drive with their friends. In the end I only got 5ish chase runs in after driving all day, the most fun being behind ‘Blaoki Patamura’ who was (initially) just there to Practice.

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I drove right up until 5 o’clock and then after parking my car in the pits came back to it to find a large pool of coolant underneath it. Just like at Raleigh in my R32 a few weeks ago I had got a pin-hole leak in a coolant hose under the inlet manifold. After trying to figure out if i could fix it at the track I gave up and took the car round to Team Red Stage Eiji’s house where he and Rob pulled the inlet manifold off for me and repaired it while I ate fried chicken. Luckily Rob’s car had a spare hose I could borrow while his engine is in pieces.

Next morning the three of us arrived at the track bright and early for a second briefing, scrutineering, and so that I could fit a new boost tee. In the morning there was about an hours practice which gave me time to get my boost sorted (car felt amazing at 0.9ish bar compared to the 0.5 I had been running) and for the others to spot my runs from the outside and tell me what I needed to do to hit the judges line. The main areas I needed to improve were going closer to the wall on entry and wider through the first kink. The first clip on the wall was quite a stretch from the first corner for slower cars like mine which was why I was going shallow on the first corner. I’m not sure how heavily weighted that first clip was but I decided to enter a bit later so that I could get a better line through the first corner.

Qualifying was next with Pro-Am up first. The qualifying format is two runs, one after the other with no warm up lap. This is my preferred format so I was happy about that. I was up first as the lowest ranked person in the series and put down two similar runs which were roughly equal to my best runs in that mornings practice. Unfortunately one run had a better first half and one has a better second half but I don’t think it would have changed my position if I’d managed to combine the two. When the tyre smoke settled I had qualified 9th out of 17 people, setting me up for the fairest battle in the best 16 as 9th battles 8th. 8th place qualifier was Daniel Messmer who was the second ranked Pro-Am driver at the time and driving a TD05 Sr20 powered grey Onevia. I talked with David after the event and amazingly he actually made the trip down from Cairns, although he did store the car down here in between rounds. David also has ambitions of being a genuine professional drifter so it will be interesting to see how his career progresses next year. You can check out his page on Facebook here.

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After Pro qualifying finished I got ready for my best 16 battle against Daniel and drove out onto the track – where my car promptly broke down half way around the circuit. After an embarrassing tow ride back to the pits which was broadcast on the live stream we found that one of the fuel pump wires had slipped off the battery terminal (it’s a very professional setup) and I was able to head straight back out and line up against Daniel.

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Because Daniel was the higher qualifier he was leading first which suited me fine, or so I thought. The lead car starts on the left side (despite some arguing from some very delusional drivers) and has to go through a tight little chicane. As we left the line I didn’t immediately launch my car as I thought the chicane would slow Daniel down more than it actually did. Due to this the gap between us only got wider and I effectively lost the battle before we had even reached the first corner. After my lack luster chase I tried to go as fast and as deep as possible on my own lead run but dropped a tyre on the first corner which guaranteed my loss. Luckily for Daniel this meant he was able to continue on with the event and end up winning the 2018 Pro-Am series.

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So with no ‘expression sessions’ scheduled on the Saturday that meant I was done for the day. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. As I’ve mentioned previously tandems/chasing is an area where I really need to improve and this event further highlighted it without actually giving me many options to get better at it. Perhaps worst of all was since the event was live streamed I had one of the first opportunities to actually see my driving from the outside, but the way I drove was rubbish and isn’t even worth watching! Given how much time I’ve spent drifting (probably more than all the other Pro-Am drivers combined) the average results I keep getting are a definite downer. I strongly believe though that adverse conditions create the best opportunities for growth and having identified some specific points to work on I’m quietly confident that win or lose I will become a more fearsome adversary in next year’s competitions 🙂

Thanks for all the guys from the Hi-Tec series and Wakefield Park for putting on a well-run event! With any luck I’ll be back next year for at least one round and hopefully more 🙂

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FASHION DRIFTING: Bring The Bash 3

After an uneventful drive from Canberra to Port Macquarie, followed by a night of little-to-no sleep (as fellow Team Red Stage driver Jake loudly made love long into the night in the room next to me) I arrived at the already overflowing pit area at Port Macquairie Go Kart Track. The event was Bring The Bash 3, an exclusive drift event organised by the Wollongong drift team ‘Cursed Sundays’. As is often the case I was happy that I was able to drive my drift car down as reversing a car trailer through a field of fashionable blog cars is a little beyond my comfort zone. So full was the pit area that Team Red Stage were not even able to pit next to each other – although Jake may have just wanted to park with the better presented but also red Revolution Motorsport guys instead of two ugly R32 Skylines.

Not long after I had unpacked my car, fitted my drifting tyres and made the necessary greetings the drivers briefing was called. It must be said that a megaphone (or Mez) would have been helpful here as most drifters are partially deaf from the scream of Nissan tractor engines and may have missed a few of the finer points of the discussion. Notwithstanding the key points were as follows; a council set limit of 65km/h on the track, no more than six cars drifting at one time and a ominous warning that the police were not supportive of the event and would look for any excuse to interfere with it. With the morning meeting out of the way it was time to hit the track, or more accurately line up to hit the track, or more accurately still rip your front bumper off trying to get through the gate onto the track (looking at you Gravy Garage and Team Kamikaze)! No such problems for me with my stock height R32 – easily one of the highest and lamest cars in attendance.

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The first few laps were fairly treacherous as light rain had left the edges of the track slippery under the shade of the trees. The main straight also featured a concrete centre section which is used to mark the start line for the go-karts that race there, but this centre section was extremely slippery compared to the bitumen around it, leading to some slightly hairy moments for some drivers. Despite the somewhat slippery surface the track seemed perfectly suited to drifting and was easily linkable from start to finish. All up the track comprises roughly 10 corners which can all be taken in second gear. The main straight was easily third gear territory – not that anybody was going faster than 65km/h of course – and was followed by a sweeping right hand corner which tightened into a hairpin. As such it was perfectly suited to high speed and big angle entries and I was disappointed that the imposed speed limit prevented me from getting too carried away (I didn’t want to be the guy that flew off the track and ruined the chance of future events). Luckily many of the other corners were also great from throwing hard into, as demonstrated by Wisefab superstar #137 Jye Sanders in numerous Facebook videos.

The line-up of 60 cars and the mandated 6 car trains led to some interesting mash ups of cars and drivers that probably wouldn’t have normally driven together. After almost collecting a bright yellow and ultra-slammed S14 (@stickerz_14) I decided it would be prudent to give a wide berth to cars like Verossa’s and Cresta’s, which may as well be Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s in my eyes. Some other drivers were less cautious than I was though and were keenly battling with whoever was lucky (or unlucky) enough to be in-front of them. By the end of the event Brad Howe had perhaps gained the reputation of crash king in his very Ebisu-eque two tone S13. Mez was also battling wildly in his new yellow S15, throwing down with the same vim and vigour he did in his old AE86. The two even managed to sandwich Joey (the owner of a well-known roller-skate and fidget spinner bearing shop in Wollongong), denting his OG R32’s rear door and adjusting his wheel alignment for the remainder of the event.

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So hard was it to choose who to drive with in fact that it wasn’t until Sunday that all three Team Red Stage cars got to drive together at the same time. Instead I had some good runs chasing the shiny black Queensland cars of Gravy Garage and Team Kamikaze, getting absolutely engulfed in smoke by the end of the lap (Tim Johnson went on to win the well-deserved title of ‘Biggest Baker’). I also got absolutely monstered (and slightly dented) by Cursed Sundays driver Daniel Rijistic in his 1JZ powered S13 – despite the disadvantage of him driving on 15’s as compared to my less aesthetic 17’s. For the full video of the run check out the event video put out by Fish Bulb/BACN Design. I was lucky that he did such a good chase behind me as apart from that video very few of the media wanted to video my ugly car drifting – despite the prep work I did for the event in the below video!

Almost all of the cars present ended up making it through to the end of the event without any major mechanical failures. I did notice one well-presented AE86 that didn’t seem to get off its trailer at all but with so many cars on track it was hard to keep track of who was out driving. One driver who definitely didn’t make it to the end of the day was Dylan Simpson in his S13, who was unlucky enough to destroy his oil pan on a ripple strip early in the day. As such he won the award for ‘Who broke their shit first’, however in my eyes this award should have almost gone to ‘Gerg’ Merriman in his professional Rota & Wisefab sponsored S14 which did only three laps. The fact that his car was already broken when it arrived at the event may have technically ruled him out of the running for that award though.

Another notable award went to Kyle Sheather for being the best overall driver at the event, as voted by the other drivers. His extremely fast 65km/h entries, coupled with massive angle and crazy tandem runs made him a clear winner and I was very disappointed I never got a chance to follow him. Surprisingly yours truly also managed to win award as one of two favourite drivers as picked by Tommy from Produced Auto (the other being Brett Hutton). I’m still not quite sure what Tommy’s reasoning was but he seemed impressed that I not only drove the furthest to get to the event, but that I also drove my car as opposed to trailering it – so maybe that was the reason. Whatever it was, the recognition was very much appreciated and I am looking forward to fluroising my pair of CST’s with the voucher he presented me. Naturally the award for Best Team went to Gravy Garage who’s driving was not only close but also looked fantastic in their matching liveried Nissans. Check out this video if you want to see what it was like following them:

Perhaps the most important award at this type of event was presented to Stephen Bamford (a touch late as he didn’t make it to the awards presentation therefore missing out on the opportunity to pose with a beautiful grid girl) for having the ‘Best Looking’ car at the event. Given that his Revolution Motorsport Red 180sx has made its way into my fap folder I think this award was definitely well deserved.

Overall I can’t thank Cursed Sundays, and particularly Chev, enough for organising an overall fantastic event. I sincerely hope that more events are held at Port Macquarie as its one of the most fun tracks I’ve had the chance to drive in Australia. Lastly though a word of warning for any future drivers that get to visit the track – bring as many tyres as you can, because this track is not only extremely fun, but also extremely hard on tyres!

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D1SL Yusuke Drifting @ Mobara TC

My friend Yusuke drifting his D1SL PS13 at Mobara Twin Circuit in August 2013. He even took me for a ride! ありがとうございましたゆすけさん!

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蜂の群れ: Fast tracks are the fun tracks!

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Team Red Stage 2013 Summer Trip Video

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MY DANGEROUS S14 ZENKI

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In the last post I mentioned that during our trip to Japan we would all be driving S chassis’s this time round. At the end of last years summer matsuri I decided to sell my R33 as it was getting too worn out and unreliable. The R33 was defiantly a great car to learn to drift in, and until it decided to keep blowing turbo’s it was very reliable. On the other hand though I felt that the torque and lowdown power of the RB25 made it too easy to drive, especially compared to my stock boost RB20 in Australia. After toying with the idea of getting an RB25 swapped Cefiro or Laurel I decided that I’d learn more from a silvia and so the hunt began for a suitable car!
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WE’RE DRIFTING AT WTAC: But first we need to practice!

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After a somewhat stressful couple of weeks Team Red Stage has made it into the world Time Attack Team Drift Challenge! Joining Team Red Stage will be 3 Fingers Neat Blaze Unit (including the famous ‘Jabbit’), Sydney’s own Driftmob and Team Slide N Destroy from Victoria featuring ‘Driftcat’ Catherine Colerio. In addition to a bunch of known drivers the other teams are also using some very impressive machinery, including a twin turbo LS1 commodore, a 2JZ Silvia and a plethora of fully built SR20 S-chassis’s. Team Red Stage does have one ace up it’s sleeves though!
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