Japanese professional drift driver Daijiro Yoshihara was in Singapore for a weekend in mid-March to give a group of Singaporean drift drivers a day-long training session.
With no place legal in Singapore to drift, general manager of long-time tyre distributor Binter & Co. Pte Ltd Marcus Lim – who was also the man who brought Formula Drift into Asia – rented the airshow grounds at Changi Exhibition Centre so these guys could burn rubber without breaking the law.
Setting Marcus back about S$20,000 to fly Dai in and rent the empty space, seven local drifters turned up for the training session – including the likes of competitive drifters Ivan Lim and Jansen Tan, who are participating in Formula Drift Singapore.
These costs include rental of Changi Exhibition Centre (which was also the venue of the previous two Formula Drift Singapore events in 2008 and 2009), flights and accommodation for Dai, as well as towing charges, fuel and tyres for the Nissan S13 that Ivan’s currently drifting with.
Daijiro giving Ivan advice on his techniques
“I usually don’t get any practice and just go straight to competition. This training session was very good; it was the first time I set up my drift car in Singapore. This shows how much all of us are craving for a space to practice or set up our vehicles. I got to do some testing, and the car handles so much better than before. I also learnt the character of the new race car with its limits and how to work on it to make it even better!” said Ivan of Team Goodyear Binter, a team owned and run by Binter & Co. as well as sponsored by Goodyear Racing.
Ivan and Daijiro.
With sponsors Stamford Tyres and local garage HKS Garage R financially supporting Jansen’s drifting, this session was useful in brushing up his techniques. “We don’t have anywhere legal in Singapore to practise, so we just have to make do with what we have. It was a good session for me today but for everyone to have more of such trainings will be a financial strain, hence it would help if the scene had more sponsors.”
Daijiro giving Jansen advice on his techniques
A heavy downpour in the morning didn’t dampen the spirits of the drifting enthusiasts who were eager to get some rubber-burning action. The first ‘incident’ of the day was Jansen’s engine that died on him first thing in the morning.
“Well, it is just wear and tear. The engine has lasted me three years of competition use and it is a great testament to HKS Garage R's potential of building powerful and reliable engines! We checked the engine and it didn't blow up though; just a blown head gasket,” said Jansen.
It was a busy day for Dai as he observed and assessed the skills of seven drifters…
Sitting with each of them in the car as well as watching from outside of the car.
Other ‘duties’ for Dai include cone-picking…
and pushing of Ivan’s car after he broke the LSD…
…hence Ivan started drifting with his friend’s stock Mazda MX-5.
Privateers like business owner Jason Tan and regional human resources director Winston Ang had to fork out S$1,100 course fees for the session, not including other costs for fuel, tyres and workshop services. But the money was probably well-spent.
Daijiro watching Jason drift
“This session was definitely useful! There is always something new to learn each time you drift. With a pro like Daijiro sitting next to you to correct your mistakes, it helps to learn the correct techniques faster. I’ve learnt more high-speed drift control and techniques,” said Jason.
Although it might be cheaper to head over to Malaysia and practise, there is nothing more convenient than having someplace to drift right at home. “Drifting requires practice. If we don't have a place to practise, we can't get better, period. It's actually pretty amazing that we have produced local drifting talents today despite the lack of support and the many restrictions in place,” Winston added.
When asked what valuable advice Daijiro has for us, he said, ““In drifting, it is important to get the racing line correct. With the right line, the driver can get good angles and carry the speed through corners instead of having to slow down and lose speed in the process.”