If you’re a regular follower of Formula Drift, then I need to start by telling you that this isn’t the car you think it is. Whilst it may wear the same livery as the car as HGK Motorsport are campaigning in the USA this year – FD Croco, you’re actually looking at their other BMW E46: Master Croco.
Although HGK Motorsport have been around since the mid-2000s, it’s this build that grabbed the attention of the drifting world.
See the difference? No? Let’s take a closer look at the car that has become almost the benchmark for how a drift car should be prepared…
To start with, the main difference between the two cars is that Master Croco isn’t Formula D legal. With its 950hp Whipple-supercharged LS7 sitting entirely behind the front strut towers and back through the original bulkhead, the setup contravenes the FD rulebook. Speaking to Kristaps about it, he says that although the car is illegal in the technical sense, the layout has very little, if any benefit over their FD car.
When I visited HGK earlier this month (I’ll be covering the visit in a separate post) it was the morning after the Drift Allstars Riga event, where Kristaps had made his way to the top four before a supercharger pulley decided it’d had enough. Still, both car and driver had made a significant impact. I personally can’t recall being so impressed by a driver for the first time since, well… forever.
A big part of Kristap’s style is his aggression. In turn, this means the car has to be capable of reliably deploying all of its power, all of the time. A pretty much bulletproof driveline plays a huge part in this. A Tex Racing 4-speed dog-box transmitting power through a BMW Motorsport M3 LSD and 1000hp axles from The Driveshaft Shop proved their worth all weekend.
From memory, Master Croco made its first appearance around 2012 and has so far stood up to the test of time. Inside may be a typical drift car interior, but when you take a closer look at some of the fabrication and how perfect everything fits, it’s simply lush.
Right down to things like HGK’s in-house made hydraulic handbrake lever. There are a million details in here which we will try to bring you a closer look at in the future.
When you take the time to look at the details, you tend to find only the best of the best parts attached. Wilwood brakes, Nitron suspension, Wisefab, OMP, RRS – the list goes on. It’s an incredibly well-prepared car, wearing the grime of a tough weekend’s work on track.
The widened bodywork is HGK’s own; the lightweight panels assisting in bringing the total weight down to 1,170kg (2,580lb) and to cater for the increased track of the Wisefab setup.
Whilst the car is now a few years old, it’s still a fiercely competitive setup. Some might bemoan the engine’s positioning and legality, but I believe Kristaps when he says that it doesn’t hold the significant advantage that people say it will. This is a great car because of everything – not just one particular aspect of the build. Kristap’s abilities also help considerably.
Now, am I the only one who would love to see beneath the skin of FD Croco?
Additional Photography by Larry Chen