Last week, we held our popular drift practice day ‘Nishi-D‘. This is a Japanese-themed event with the idea of allowing drivers to hone their skills in a fun environment, promoting drift culture at its purest.
We conduct the ‘soukoukai’ (the Japanese word for practice day/track meet) on the same area at Barbagallo Raceway where we run Drift School. It’s an ideal space as the large amount of open tarmac really gives a great opportunity to customise a course to suit technical and exciting driving.
For the first time ever on the infield, we purchased 20 concrete blocks, each weighing over a tonne, to use as barricades to create a brand new spectator area down on the live track. Spectating was never horrible at the infield from the balcony, but with drifting, it’s really important to feel the ‘impact’ of the driver and we felt strongly that spectators needed to see this, by having drift cars coming towards them at high speeds & maximum angle. We think it worked quite well, as majority of spectators stayed there through the day even with the constant rain.
The day begins at 9am where the first group of drifters are released on the track. For this soukoukai, we had 6 different groups from A to F, each group consisting of roughly 7 drivers. Each group is out drifting on the track for 15 minutes at a time, this ensures that the drivers in that group can continue to practice without disruptions from too many cars on a track, and tackle the corners over and over.
Typically, at a Nishi-D soukoukai, we always replicate famous Japanese tracks, which this time was Bihoku High Lands from Okayama. This was chosen because of the high commitment required for the entry and the emphasis on speed throughout the course. Drivers have to aim to come down the straight as fast as possible, and flick the car in with as much angle as possible to wash off the speed (and not hit the wall) then getting on the power to push themselves away to hold a wide line and hitting the necessary clips ahead. This was a great challenge for all participants, but also highly rewarding when done right, as well as being extremely exciting and impressive for the crowd to watch.
Towards the end of the day, we like to run a small tournament for the drivers, it’s a good gauge as to how you are performing and really tells you a lot as to how much improvement is needed for next time. Drivers are judged on their final group session before the tournament, and are ranked from 1 to 16 after scoring. Traditionally, most drift competitions will throw you straight into battles, however, for this top 16, drivers battled each other by out performing their opponent on the best qualifying run they can produce. By doing this, it forces discipline into driving better lead lines which eventually over time will produce higher quality tandem battles, as without a good lead lap, you can’t have a good chase.
After the top 16 solo battles were finished, we moved into the top 8, which was back into the traditional tandem battle format. With some great driving from rookie Josh Watkins in his S13 Silvia, he was able to progress though his battles against veterans such as Scott Tuna to make it into the top 4, along with DJ Laubscher, Allister Lyons and Regan Curtis. Things got really exciting from here as these other 3 drivers are extremely experienced with an aggressive driving style and are experts in the art of tandems.
With a few mistakes from DJ, Josh was able to take out 3rd place this soukoukai, which is an awesome result for someone so new to the sport. For the finals, it was down to 2 time soukoukai winner Allister Lyons and 2 time runner up Regan Curtis. This tournament at the end of the day, is purely about fun, and driving hard, but Regan was looking to break the curse of coming 2nd in every competition he enters, and this was the one! With a slightly more consistent chase and stronger line through the course, Regan took out 1st place at this soukoukai. Congratulations!
The day is finished off with 10 minutes of open practice where every car can go out for the Super Drift Train!
As per usual, the victors are presented with trophies then showered with water (a standard practice in Japan) for a bit of a laugh.
Something else that we do at a Nishi-D soukoukai is to bring everybody together at the end of the day of drifting and have a bit of fun with prize giveaways in the form of raffles and a big group game of scissors paper rock. Plenty of small prizes like chips all the way to highly contested items like a pair of wheels from our sponsors at D-Speed, and a set of tyres from DIY Garage to name a few.
Think you may want to improve your skills for the next one? Come and visit Drift School WA and partake in any of our great programs, suited to beginners all the way to expert. Get ahead of the competition with some private 1 on 1 training in our Drift Xpert 3 hour session!
We’d like to thank everyone for attending and hope that you had a great time enjoying drifting with us. See you at the next Nishi-D soukoukai!
Thank you to our sponsors:
WTFauto, D-Speed, Red Earth Creations, Destroy Tyres, Drift Bunny Decals, DIY Garage, MERT Automotive, Secret Monkey Garage, Pretty Brave Fitness, Lyon’s Mane & Beauty, Complete Financial Solutions.