Drifting has finally entered the realm of the FIA, the Federation Internationale De L’Automobile.
It’s been rumored for a while, then talked about when the leading drifting series met, and now the FIA has officially said they will sanction their first ever drifting event in 2017. Announced today at the fifth FIA Sport Conference in Geneva, the inaugural Intercontinental Drifting Cup event will take place on September 30 and October 1 in Japan.
While the FIA will create the rulebook for the event, Sunpros and Isao Saita will be held responsible for the promotion of the event. If you’re not familiar, Sunpros has run the D1 Grand Prix since its inception in 2000 with the JAF (Japanese Automobile Federation) as their FIA representative. D1GP was made famous by incorporating Keiichi ‘Drift King’ Tsuchiya and Option founder Daijiro Inada as judges and the original founders of the series, and creating the very first official drifting competition series.
Isao Saita became President of the series in 2008 until Osami Suzuki took over the position in 2009, the year before Tsuchiya and Inada left siting “consistent irresponsible management” as their reason. Though, mysteriously, while the FIA mentioned that Saita was a founder of the D1 Grand Prix, he is listed as the current Representative Director, and this is the first mention of him being a “founder” of D1GP.
The event will take place in Odaiba, a central Tokyo location that has hosted D1GP events since 2004 under the Tokyo Drift banner. For this year, D1GP are running it as the final round scheduled for October 7 and 8, the weekend after the FIA Intercontinental Cup. It makes sense to schedule it up this way given the logistics of creating a custom carpark course.
It will be interesting to see how the FIA will work with drifting. There are fans right now who are praising the idea and looking forward to finally seeing parity between cars, but others are lamenting and comparing it with the current state of Formula One and the rigid structure of the rulebook killing car styling. Many are also wondering who will be representing their series for this world event.
While it may be tough, the date works with all but the King of Nations/King of Europe round on the very same weekend in Greinbach, Austria. Most every other series has an event the week before or the week after and shipping a main car for that event probably won’t work out. If any drivers from the other major series do show, it may be with a car purchased in Japan for it, or a car built specifically for the event.
The best news is that it comes with the blessing of FIA President, Jean Todt, who said, “With the creation of the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup, we are building the framework for a standard format which will help the sport continue to grow from grass roots level to more professional competitions globally. We are setting the standard for what I’m sure will be a hugely successful form of motor sport.”
The idea of an FIA-backed drifting series isn’t a new one and has probably been on the horizon since the inception of sanctioned, competition drifting in 2000 and the D1GP. While this will be a single event, you can expect that the rulebook that the FIA creates will be adopted by several series as this talk has already begun last year at the FIA Drift Working Group meeting.
Do you think the idea of the FIA creating a standardized rule book for drifting is a promising idea? Who do you expect and/or hope to see at the first ever FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup? Do you expect a world drifting championship to come out of this single round? Let’s share our thoughts in the comments section below.