In summer 2020, I had the opportunity to visit HGK Motorsport in Latvia, where the team was working on their first A90 Toyota Supra drift car.
During my visit, the A90 had all the fabrication work done, but was missing that HGK signature carbon-Kevlar body kit and an engine. Up until just a couple of weeks ago, we had no idea what the HKS ‘Supra Jet’ would look like in its finished form, but today we can show you.
My original plan was to travel to Russia and photograph the completed car, but we all know why that couldn’t happen. Instead, we collaborated with Vsevolod Rozhok, a talented young drift photographer from Siberia, who provided these striking images to go with my dry copy.
HGK spent an entire year developing this chassis into a competitive world-class drift machine, with every aspect of the new build engineered from scratch. Initially, a stock A90 was 3D-scanned and then undressed to a bare shell where excess pieces were shaved off, important elements were strengthened, and a roll cage was designed and tightly integrated within the cabin.
The body kit was also engineered, not simply designed to look good. HGK’s head engineer, Harijs Skupelis, worked closely with a 3D designer to give calculated feedback for the optimum mounting points, where the air should flow, what parts should have easy access and so on.
It’s actually the first A90 full body kit in the world; every OEM panel was replaced with an upgraded carbon-Kevlar piece. The kit shaves a couple of hundred kilos.
This particular car was built for Toyota Gazoo Racing-supported driver Nikita Shikov, who drives in the Russian Drift Series (RDS). Since it was destined to compete in one of the world’s top drifting series and perform straight out of the box, using the BMW B58 engine wasn’t an option for Nikita. Instead, he opted for the reliable and familiar 2JZ-GTE, tuned to just over 1,000hp through a Brian Crower stroker kit and a single Garett G35-900 turbocharger, among many other performance parts. The engine was prepared by Chepa Racing in Ukraine, a company operated by current RDS champion Alexey Golovnya.
Nikita’s team is in close contact with a number of international drift teams running the new Supra, and everyone is openly exchanging chassis data. Nikita is sure that he’ll swap back to the Supra’s original engine in the future, but right now they’re waiting for Papadakis Racing to figure out the weak points.
Japanese drivers Masato Kawabata and Daigo Saito were the first to prepare A90s for drifting, and noted that while the stock car handles extremely well, as soon as you start widening the track it can quickly get snappy. Having this information, HGK’s engineers were able to adjust the Wisefab kit accordingly. They were also able to work with Russian company Power Wheels to build special sets of wheels measuring 18×9-inch +22 up front and 18×9.5-inch -6 in the rear. Of course, to allow the wheel and tire combo to operate at their maximum angle of attack, a good chunk of metal needed to be chopped out of the inner arches.
As you’d expect with a build of this caliber, the cooling, fuel tank, and oil systems are located in the center of the vehicle to shield them from contact, as well as to limit the pendulum effect. What you’ll find in the rear is a combination of bash-bar and crash-bar to absorb any impact. The carbon-Kevlar body itself has become the standard for top-tier drifting for its elasticity.
A little bit of trivia that not many people know: HGK Motorsport doesn’t actually make the carbon-Kevlar pieces themselves. This aspect of HGK builds is outsourced to OCT Composites, another niche Latvian company.
In the end, the HGK Supra lost 925lb (420kg) from its factory weight, tipping the scales at 2,535lb (1,150kg). The headlights, taillights, and F1-style fog light in the rear are the only stock exterior items retained.
Real-world testing of the Supra has just began for HGK and Nikita, and in the numerous videos circulating online the car looks both fast and competitive.
On the subject of video, HGK prepared the clip above, which takes an extensive look at the build, if you’re interested.
We’ll be keeping an eye on how the Supra performs in this year’s RDS, and hopefully I’ll be able to see the finished car for myself sooner rather than later.
Photography by Vsevolod Rozhok