But drifting? They’re as rare as a blue moon in these shores.
And so when news broke out that the Philippines will be host to the final leg of the Federal Tyres King of Nations Asia Pro Series 2018 today (Sunday) at the Clark International Speedway, interest in the motorsport of drifting from fans spiked no end.
But what is drifting, really?
According to Wikipedia, it is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, with loss of traction in the rear wheels or all tires, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner. Car drifting is caused when the rear slip angle is greater than the front slip angle, to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn.
As a motoring discipline, drifting competitions were first popularized in 1970s Japan, and today are held worldwide and are judged according to the speed, angle, showmanship and line taken through a corner or set of corners.The desired line is usually dictated by the judge or judges, who describe their desired line as well as highlight areas of importance, such as clipping zones, clipping points and touch and go areas.
If you are familiar with the Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift movie, wherein sports cars race sideways, then you have a fairly good idea of the motorsport of drifting.
And what better way to preach what drifting is all about than the current leader in the King of Nations series, Thailand’s Wuttitat “Keng” Pankumnerd, flag-bearer of the Thai PTT RD-2 Drift Team.
“Anybody who wants to be a drifter can be a drifter. If you like the sport, you can do it. But never do it on public roads. There’s a circuit to drift. But never on public roads,” said Pankumnerd, nicknamed the Little Wizard as he stands only five foot flat.
But make no mistake about it, Keng is one of the big names in the drifting scene.
As a matter of fact, he currently leads the series with 240 points after two legs, and a mere Top 8 finish from the 30-driver cast will give him the overall KON Asia title, owing to his earlier points earned in the first two legs of the series held in Thailand.
He will have his hands full though heading to Sunday’s final events against Asia’s finest, including Charles Ng of Hong Kong, Daigo Saito, Hirohide Tanaka, Keiichiro Kadekaru and Toni “HalfBreeds” Arakaki of Japan, and Nasser Almutairi of Kuwait.
Filipino drifters will try to hold their ground, led by 19-year-old Luis Gono and veteran David Feliciano, Atoy Llave and Gabe Tayao.
“They are all very good,” said the Thai ace, who hopes to vie in the world stage as well as the tough Japanese circuit. If I get to the final four, I will have a very strong chance (of winning the PH title),” said the 25-year-old drifter through Piyapoom Seechang of PTT Lubricants Philippines. “I really want to win the championship.”
Pankumnerd will be banking on his trusted 1989 Toyota Corolla (KE30) with a 2JZ turbo engine and 700 HP, together with the full support of PTT oil and lubricants.
Keng, who learned how to drive a car when he was 10, started out as a circuit racer. But he sort of “drifted” to the sport, thanks in part of the “Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift” movie.
If he goes on to win the KON Asia, the Japan D1 Grand Prix (Tokyo Drift) will be his next stop.
There, he can very well fulfill his lifelong dream of driving fast and drifting furiously.