Interview>> Kumakubo & The New Laurel

What Kumakubo has done for drifting, goes beyond the duties of a simple driver. He was right there when the scene got started and his fascination with the art of going sideways drove him to create what everyone refers to as Drift Heaven, Ebisu Circuit.  On my last visit up to the town of Nihonmatsu in Fukushima-ken where the circuit is located, I stopped by Kumakubo's tuning shop, K Style, to take a look at a car that the whole drift community is anxiously waiting to see, the new Team Orange Nissan Laurel.  Kumakubo was kind enough to take time out of his current exhibition tour abroad to reply to my questions via e-mail.  Let's find out more about the new car and his plans for the future.

Speedhunters To get started, the obvious question.  Why did you decide to change car?

Well, honesty, I didn't want to change car! The Evo X is a true Team Orange car through and through, it has served me well and I love the way it performs and would really like to keep driving it.  But these days D1 requires lots and lots of power.  If you don't have enough power you are just not competitive and it makes it much harder to even qualify for the tsuiso battles.  This is especially true this year.  So despite not really having a choice I'm also very excited to get into the Laurel and drive and experience a true Koyama-built RB26!

Speedhunters So power has become the most important thing in D1 now?

Unfortunately yes.  You definitely need power!

Speedhunters  So will we be able to see the Laurel in action at Fuji in a couple of weeks?

That was the original plan but we just can't make it. I apologize to all my fans.

Speedhunters What will happen to the trusty Evo X?

I'm not sure yet, I haven't really thought that far yet. I might use it overseas for all the exhibitions Team Orange does or for the drift schools and seminars we host in various countries. Or maybe if we find another driver to use our team…

Speedhunters Why was it decided to dry sump the RB26 that will power the Laurel?

Well drift engines are continuously run at very high rpm, often bounced off the limiter for extended periods of time so we eliminated the possibility of any type of oil pump failure. The custom system also provides much better lubrication under lateral load. Plus it's cool! LOL

Speedhunters During our visit to K Style Iwata-san showed us all the custom work that has gone into the car…

…as well as the engine. How many companies are collaborating in the project?

Most of the engine parts have come from JUN Machine Shop while all of the custom parts we needed have been created by the guys at NTS

…like the one-off big-capacity intake plenum and dry-sump system.

Speedhunters So how much power is this engine going to develop?

We are shooting at somewhere in the region of 900~1000 HP.

Speedhunters We noticed that there will be two bottles of nitrous oxide fitted in the trunk of the Laurel, just behind the ATL fuel cell. Do you plan to use nitrous all the time?

If possible I don't want to use it at all! But if the D1 regulations insist in not banning the gas then I have no other choice but to use it to get the necessary power boost when I need it. 

That will be the only way to stay competitive. I think if D1 will ban nitrous oxide I will be going back to the Evo X. I will then use the Laurel for something else.

Speedhunters The 2010 Championship has already been won by Imamura, but do you think the competition will be as fierce as ever at the final round in Fuji?

For me at least it will be tough, as I need to drive the Evo X, which is just not powerful enough anymore to keep up.

Speedhunters And finally, everyone by now knows that Koyama-san of Koyama Racing Labo has had some very serious medical problems over the last few months. How is he doing and will he be well enough to complete the final set-up of the Laurel? Also, any final thoughts?

I'm sure everyone knows yes, but what we can do is all wish for his quick return. Presently Koyama-san is putting a lot of effort into his rehabilitation and his will to recover is really unimaginable, everyone is so surprised at how quick he is improving. He is planning to come to the last D1 round in Fuji on the 16th and 17th to watch the action. It will although take time until he will be able to work on cars again, but he will definitely return to the scene. This is also the reason work on the Laurel has stopped; everything that could have possibly been done without his supervision has been completed. I want it to be him that cranks that engine for the first time! Saying this however, I would really love to win a round with the Evo X as a present to Koyama, a car that he worked so hard to create but the only one that hasn't won out of the other Team Orange cars. Then it will be the time for the Laurel!

As a final comment I'd like to say that I'd really like to see nitrous oxide banned in D1. If D1 continues as it is now we will all be using older cars with tons of power that are all too easy to drive. We at Team Orange have had to start using it in an attempt to keep up with the rest of the field. My goal from now won't be on winning but more on finding and helping younger drivers evolve. I'd also like to drift in as many foreign countries as possible!

Interview by Dino Dalle Carbonare



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

excellent interview !!! cant wait to see the laurel


Kumakubo is the best. Class act through and through. I chatted with him a bit in Japan at TAS. He's such a cool dude. Get well soon Koyamasan!


Great interview ! Great hopes for Koyama-san to come back in excellent shape .


Excellent news but depressing as well to see the turn to power in almost every drift series. Maybe its time for a class system...300hp....500hp...etc?!

Nonetheless drifting needs to keep their individuality because its that what makes drifting fun and interesting.

Keep up the good work guys


oh my this thing is going to be a beast


I thought Nitrous was banned in Japan? I guess not for racing purposes.

Get well Koyama, and maybe the Laurel will debut at the beginning of next year's season?


Dino, asking Kumakubo why he decided to use a dry sump system in his new RB26 was the dumbest question I have ever heard. How long have u been shooting pictures in the automotive industry? You should know better than this.


Amazing to see how much detail and work goes into every part in order to make sure its top notch...


I love how he shows everyone what kind of engine and what he is putting into it etc. Not keeping the engine and setup a "work secret" shows that Kumakubo is really down to earth. Love the interveiw, thanks!


love too see that the drivers have some of the same opinions about regulations in drifting


Love how he dislikes power being a main factor in drifting


Rad. Kumakubo is the reason I got into drifting. After seeing him and Tanaka at Subiefest. It's hard to imagine that he is struggling to keep up on power! Wow. That really shows how much the sport has changed..! Much respect.


Very nice, great guy that Kumakubo, drifting icon!


Awesome. Thanks Dino and Kumakubo san!


team orange does insane tandem!! i'd love to tandem with them.


It's really great that Koyama-san and Kumakubo are such great supporters of drifting. If only we had a few more individuals as passionate about drifting as these legends here in the US.

Great article!




Good and very interesting interview! Thanks, Dino! And domo arigatou, Kumakubo-san!


dude this laurel is gonna be so sick! im syked to see this!!


can´t wait for the laurel ! nice write up


He is using a C33 chassis? you didn't ask why he went for such an old platform, would have been cool to know that.


we'll just have to wait with baited breath.. the old chassis have still got their place though!!


excellent interview! I love Team Orange but i do agree why more HP...boring.


Great interview for sure.

See you in November Kuma :) We'll bring more Aussie goodies.

Get the 180SX ready to rumble ;)


That was informative, wow... I had no idea D1 cars have evolved so much in such a short time


WHY the drift king letting all of this "power struggle" keep about the words he always's just not all about power but TOTAL BALANCE......sigh......


The truth straight from the mouth of one of the best. I hope that Laurel gets finished yet i wonder how many other drivers feel the same about the battle for ridiculous horsepower?

"My goal from now won't be on winning but more on finding and helping younger drivers evolve. I'd also like to drift in as many foreign countries as possible!" Calling all business geniuses... somebody please bring this man down to New Zealand to compete in a round of D1NZ.


thats crazy that he said his evo x doesnt keep up anymore. that goes to show these pro drift cars are getting too crazy with the horsepower


i am shocked tbh that they cant get more power out of the X why not use 4G63 if the engine itself is the issue ?? AMS seem to get enough power out of the X? ....KUMA is great though a true motorsport legend


I agree with DriftBizKit, a HP class system would be very cool


Awesome interview. Bann the giggle gas in drifting I agree! it shouldnt be about power. Kumakubo is the man! tell him to come visit us in new zealand! haha


Being mentored by Kumakubo-san in drifting would be such a great honor and experience! It would also be cool if he picked up a prodigy that would learn from him and get the X


Excellent site, keep up the good work guys.


Thomas ">3 Series Bmw


2010 d1gp champion imamura?


Interview Naoki Nakamura please!


I can't believe yet another season of D1 professional drifting has come to an end! And it was a bit


I can't believe yet another season of D1 professional drifting has come to an end! And it was a bit