On June 21, 2017 the Federation Internationale De L’Automobile, FIA, announced they recognized Drifting as a motorsport and that they would hold their first-ever drift event, the Intercontinental Drifting Cup, in Tokyo, Japan on September 30.
The announcement sparked a discussion among fans. Some praised the idea and expressed they were looking forward to seeing parity between cars, others compared the idea with the current state of Formula One and the rigid structure of the rulebook killing car styling.
Unarguably though, the best news was that it came 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 grassroots 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.”
Our thoughts on the recent event:
Drivers: The entry list included American drivers Michael Essa and Matt Field, as well as some other familiar drivers like Aurimas ‘Odi’ Bakchis, Daigo Sato, Charles NG, Masashi Yokoi, and champions from other series including D1GP like Daychapon Toyingcharoen, Auttapon Prakopkong, Hideyuki Fujino, and the events overall winner Masato Kawabata.
Some of the best drivers in the world competed in the inaugural event, skills appeared well matched, everyone did well, and it was satisfying to see.
According to the FIA to be eligible for the competition drivers “must be one of the highest ranked participants of a drifting series held in any country or territory in the world and have the backing of one or more of the series promoters.” In my opinion, they could have brought in more well-rounded drivers but it seemed as if they were picking and choosing who they wanted.
Track: The track was fast and tight. In my opinion, the setup was not ideal and seemed as though there wasn’t a real line to it.
Judging: They are using DOSS, it’s a computerized form of judging. It’s nice but no one really knows what the criteria is based on. There were no clipping points, style, or line, and they only used a human judge for deductions when it came to things like a tire off course or spinouts. Plus the cars were all loaded with GPS that tracked their speed for certain areas that required the driver to accelerate or decelerate.
Overall: It was easy to sense the FIA event was heavily based off Japanese traditional judging and driving – likely due to the FIA leaving Sunpros and Isao Saita responsible for the event execution. Sunpros, of course, has run the D1 Grand Prix since its inception in 2000. Isao Saita, named by the FIA as a founder of D1GP, became President of the series in 2008 but left in 2009 stating “consistent irresponsible management” as the reason.
The event was extremely long and split up into two groups which made it difficult to determine if one group was better than the other but it kept things interesting.
Future events can only tell if this is going to take off or be laid to rest and let FD or D1GP take over.
Images courtesy of @Stafford_jp