Archive for the ‘Drift’ Category

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Skyline and Driver Emerge Unscathed From a Brutal Summer Drift Matsuri

August 10, 2009

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A great weekend was made perfect with the Skyline running faultlessly on the 300 odd kilometer return journey back to Tokyo from Nihonmatsu, where the Drift Festivals are always held.

I really caned the Nissan hard this weekend and despite me not bothering to change the oil or filter, not to mention the fact that it had been sitting idle for 3 months under the care of Andy and Emily from Powervehicles, make the mechanical reliability of the RB20 and its 1994 chassis even more amazing. I’m really surprised with how compliant and robust this car is. It’s like it was made with drifting in mind and I can tell you first hand it is a very easy car to slide around in any condition.

I took 6 rims and wheels with me to this event figuring they wouldn’t last long at all but as it turns out, the weather in Fukushima had other ideas. What started off as a fine day on Friday, turned into non-stop drizzle over the course of Saturday and Sunday meaning that tyre endurance was less of an issue. I needn’t have worried though.

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I will admit I was concerned about the weather. I have only ever drifted once before and that was in May for the Spring Matsuri  but at that time, the weather was bone dry.

Fast forward 3 months and things, at least “on the surface” anyway, were very different. Not only was I a complete novice with a 2 way LSD, I was also a novice at chucking around 1400 kilos of car around with said LSD in the wet. Like I said already, I needn’t have worried. The car ran mechanically perfect.

I had an absolutely amazing time. I found my limits on a huge number of occasions on all the courses and still managed to avoid the walls and other cars the entire weekend. How much of that is down to outright good fortune, I will never know, so for now, I am content to consider it a mix of things!

One of the absolute high points of the weekend, came late on Sunday; in what appeared to be the craziest time for all concerned. I cannot describe the amount of chaos and damage being delivered piping hot to spectators and cars alike. There were chances to get close and talk with some of the sports larger characters and many professional drivers use these events as a fun and cheap excuse to test parts and settings; in general a great reason to go absolutely nuts.

Not that I minded because I finally discovered  just what it was that separated the realm of a top level D1 driver to, well, the plebian and insignificant existence of  a driver the caliber such as myself. The canyon is beyond large and yet, I still think I can bridge it…

Naoto Suenaga, an integral member of “Team Orange”, took me for what is quite possibly the most exhiliarating 15 minutes of my time ever spent in a car. I find it very difficult to put into words the savagery, finesse and utter control with which he manhandled his “street driven” 180SX around the Nishi course at Ebisu Circuit. For the entire time, he was within mere centimeters of the car in front, Andy from Power Vehicles, in what can only be described as controlled madness. I’ve never seen someone so comfortable being that deep inside someones line and not only that, at over 100kph and completely sideways to boot…at least not from the passenger seat, I haven’t.

I couldn’t help but laugh every time he came over the crest sideways, on full lock with the engine held at red-line then off the throttle for the slightest of moments, sliding out wider that I cared to imagine.  He somehow found grip everywhere on the wet and slippery surface, no doubt thanks to the amazing Advan Neova’s just before viciously kicking the clutch in the guts while holding the right foot flat – all the while within an inch of the car next to him. It was an awesome display of car control and it left me stunned.

Naoto was also kind enough to offer me some pointers for the Skyline and how I should approach the “Minami Bowl“, as I like to call it. Predictably, I have a lot to learn but I was heartened by the fact that he felt I was very talented and that was a very large compliment from someone of his caliber.  It makes me wonder if I should continue or not.

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Summer Drift Matsuri 2009 – Preparations

July 28, 2009

I am currently in the middle of a very big dilemma with the Skyline. Not only did it cost too much initially ( Initial Drift! ) – 250,000 yen, it is still nowhere near finished.

I got the car without the important things needed to go drifting. It didn’t have a 2 way, didn’t have a decent clutch and pressure plate, no seat and harness, no meters to monitor oil, boost and water temps. It didn’t even come with a front mount inter-cooler or a boost controller.

I did get a shitty turbo timer, a GTR front bar with splitter that doesn’t fit properly and some really tacky rear overfenders that were screwed on to the car and left unpainted and not much else to be honest apart from the second hand parts installed into the exhaust system and a few suspension bits. For 250,000 yen you should get one heck of a missle in this country, loaded with everything to get you started.

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Admittedly the car sounds great with the current system but it makes all that wonderful noise without really going anywhere quickly.

I went to the last Drift Matsuri in Ebisu with it basically stock and it ran great. The car left the place undamaged – a major achievement considering it was my first time and I was throwing towards Minami walls at 120kph. Beginners luck perhaps?

So fast forward 3 months and we have the summer edition of the Maturi looming large. For those of you that dont know about the Drift Matsuri, it is literally 48 hours straight of drifting madness – anything goes. You pay 20,000 yen and you then have access to 8 different courses for as long as you want for the next 2 days. It is dirty smokey, oily, high octane fuel and redbull charged, organized madness.

I relocated the car to Tokyo from Chiba and began sourcing the parts to make it do its job properly – parts that should have been there from the start had I been smart enough about the purchase.

I obviously need a few key ingredients and after contacting numerous people and consulting with friends I came up with this list of must haves.

  1. Coppermix clutch plate
  2. Heavy duty pressure plate
  3. 2 way LSD
  4. Full bucket seat and rail
  5. 4 point safety harness
  6. HiCAS locker installation

I started scouring the net for the best deals and after dozens of hours of research and phone calls to close associates found all the gear I was looking for. Some people quoted extortionate figures so it really does pay to shop around and play one seller off against another.

Seat wise I found what I was looking for at Up Garage- http://www.upgarage.com

I managed to find a brand new Formula A 4 point, 3 inch Sabelt harness at my local Up Garage of all places. Has red pads to match too. Beautiful thing.

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While I was there I spotted a brand new Sparco Speed racing bucket – also in red – on the top shelf over at the seat section.

Money quickly changed hands and I bolted out of there with a great seat and harness combo.

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There was still a lot to do. There still IS a lot to do even as I write this.

I sourced a Kaaz 2 way unit in the R200 casing so a straight swap is now much easier…

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So that’s the 2 way and seat equipment out of the way. One of my best friends from high school who also happens to work for a very high profile tuning parts maker in Japan put me on to a workshop that had prices I found hard to believe considering the quotes I was getting from others. In one place I was quoted 45,000 yen to fit the KAAZ. The place I am referring to though will do it for half that.

I was, as you can imagine, rapt. It got better too.

It turns out that this place does a package with their own parts and I could also get a coppermix clutch and pressure plate package with installation very cheap. This was too good to pass up so I have booked in with them for next week.

That takes care of 3 of the biggest difficulites I am facing but there is still a long way to go yet before it is ready to go for the August 8th drift onslaught.

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Mobara D1SL Divisional Pics

May 6, 2009

Despite Andy not getting through to the 16, there was still plenty of action going on at Mobara, some of the action producing tears for the entrants, like these two:

Dino informed me that this R34 driven by Shuichi Motohashi slammed into the barriers head on… but it’s cool – It’ll buff right out…I think.

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Read the rest of this entry ?

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A bitter pill to swallow at Mobara

May 6, 2009

That wasn’t supposed to happen. Not only was the weather not playing ball today but I have witnessed some dodgy Drift stuff that others had hinted at. One name I must mention is that of Andy Gray. The poor guy was stripped of what was easily a top 8 finish and for what? I can’t say I know him very well but I do know he gives an awful lot to the sport and from my perspective, gets very little back. Even the most stoic of people will find that grating after a while. No wonder a change is on the cards – I wish him all the best with it too.

Visit Andy and Emily at Powervehicles to see more of what they are up to.

Let me show you what I managed to get of him today that amazingly wasn’t worthy of even a top 16 placing…

I have heard many times that “judging” in Drift is extremely…subjective. There is no doubt in my mind after viewing Andy Gray’s runs, compared to that of other competitors, that he deserved a top 16 finish. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Ebisu Drift Matsuri 2009 Part 2

May 5, 2009

I can’t leave such a massive event uncovered so I’m going to dedicate a number of posts to it to make sure you get maximum viewing pleasure. If you havent been to the Drift Matsuri in Ebisu, you simply must do it at least once before you leave the mortal coil.

It’s that good. Sacrilege is what I would call a no-show.

For some reason, I spent most of my time at the Minami course, constantly being told it was one of the most dangerous courses in Japan, blah blah ” You cant go out at Minami on your first time!” rah rah,  but I actually found it quite comfortable. The run off areas are generous and from the seat, visibility is great. Corners open up in front of you and the wall is only there to stop you if you screw up – nothing to be feared at all.

I had never drifted before Saturday. I am stoked to report that I didn’t crash once and I can tell you I was pushing hard – not a scratch on the car. The car suffered zero mechanical failures, didn’t overheat, the RB20 revving hard even with 170k on the clock. I was over the moon with how well the weekend went. Unfortunately not everyone took an interest in how well I as doing for a first timer, even if I was throwing the car towards the wall at turn one going in at over 120kph. Some did though and I’m pleased to say I made it into speedhunters! Thanks Dino!

Is it common for people to do this sort of thing right out of the box because I don’t know – it just made sense to me! Like riding a push bike!

Getting back to the action, I simply loved these guys caning their scuds to the point of failure – It was hard to explain how some of them were still working when you took a look at them!

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Look at the state of this JZX90!

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This SCUD may look like a piece of crud but it serves a solid purpose – it’s being hammered by none other than D1SL driver Kitaoka which goes to show you that anyone who says that only crap divers skid scuds is dead wrong.

The truth is that a lot of drivers use scuds to perfect their technique. Sure beats putting the competition race car into the wall at well over 100.

Besides this fact, I really liked the trashed look – very demolition derby style and totally appropriate for the event. Here is a crazy sequence of Kitaoka taking the drop at Minami… ( all shots taken on a Nikon D300 with 17-200mm VR ED G Nikkor lens. )

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