Crash Course in D1 GP

Drifting originated in Japan and is a highly skilled method of high-speed driving whereby drivers intentionally maneuver their cars such that they slide sideways at very high speeds through a marked course while at the same time maintaining total control of the car. Drivers drift by intentionally over-steering and causing the rears wheels of the car to lose traction while at the same time, steering their cars in the direction opposite to which the car is moving (i.e when the car is turning right, the front wheels are pointing left and vice-versa).

Unlike traditional motorsports whereby the fastest car wins, in D1 Grand Prix(D1GP) drivers are judged based on skill of execution and style. Drivers power their 500-850hp machines at speeds approaching 200km/h through a series of corners on a marked, closed course, burning rubber and bellowing out white smoke in spectacular fashion, while maintaining superb control of the car and steering the car through corners with pinpoint accuracy.

The excitement of drifting is further enhanced during the tsuiso competitions in D1GP, where by 2 cars propel into corners side-by-side at very high-speeds, and separated only by inches. In D1GP, skills count the most and faster and more powerful cars do not guarantee victory.

D1GP is today a highly established sport in Japan and respected worldwide by fans and drivers alike. Every year, thousands of fans visit D1GP events in Japan and elsewhere and drivers worldwide dream one day of becoming a D1 Grand Prix champion.

History of D1:
After hosting amateur drifting contests for several years, the founder of Option magazine and organizer ARTA-1of Tokyo Auto Salon, Daijiro Inada and drifting legend, Keiichi Tsuchiya, hosted a professional level drifting contest in 1999 and 2000 to feed on the ever increasing skills of drifting drivers who were dominating drifting contests in various parts of Japan. Launched the following year, in 2001, D1 Grand Prix is the pioneer of drifting and is now recognized as the premier professional drift series. Since then, the series has taken off Worldwide and spread from the United States to United Kingdom and Malaysia to New Zealand with an ever increasing fan base all over the world. The D1 Grand Prix series has become the model and benchmark for all drifting events as its tsuisou format became widely adopted in drifting events throughout the world and is the most highly regarded of all series.

D1 drivers and cars are the best in the world, commanding a large fan base both in Japan and worldwide. for the following round, the introduction of the two car tsuiou battle, run in a single-elimination tournament format, a common tradition for tōge races which became popular with car enthusiasts.
The series helped to influence people and turn not just its personnel but also many of its drivers into celebrities with appearances in TV shows and car magazines all over the world and spreads beyond the drift community, with its presence felt in a multitude of areas – from Hollywood movies to Japanese anime and manga to pop culture, music, fashion, along with scale models and video game appearances for their cars. It was credited for the increase several-fold in tuning businesses specializing in drift set-ups.

Competition Format:
D1 Grand Prix competitions are judged based on line, angle, speed, and style. Line involves taking the correct line, which is determined in advance by the judges. Angle refers to the angle of the car while drifting, and speed refers to the speed of the car when entering, going through and exiting a corner, whereby the less reduction in speed there is, the better. Drivers are also judged on how close the cars are at pre-determined points of the course (called “clipping point”), how close the car is to the wall, the amount of smoke, engine noise and various other factors.

Tanso (Solo run)
In tanso, drivers drift one at a time, judged individually and awarded points. Generally, each driver is allowed 2 runs, and the higher score from both runs is applied to the final ranking. Drivers are judged based on skill and in addition to observing the line, factors such as angle, speed and style are taken into account. Large point deductions are given when drivers cause the cars to spin or driver through the corners with under steer.

Tanso also acts as the qualifying stage for the tsuiso (tandem run) competition, and only the top ranked drivers in the tanso competition are able to advance to the tsuiso round.

Tsuiso (Tandum run)
In tsuiso, 2 cars drift side by side. One car starts first (lead car) followed immediately by the other car (trailing car). The lead car driver drives to his/her best ability and the trailing car tries to mirror the lead car. If the trailing car manages to keep up with the lead car, comes as close as possible to the lead car and gets inside the lead car at a corner, the trailing car wins and is awarded an advantage. If the trailing car fails to keep up with the lead car, the lead car is awarded the advantage.

Points are deducted for spins, under steering, if the drift angle of one car is shallower than that of the other car, and if control of the car becomes erratic. Therefore, the lead car driver may drift at larger angles, even at the cost of sacrificed speed. Accordingly, it is not necessarily the case that faster cars or higher powered cars will win. Note that tracing the set course line does not influence judgments as severely as in the TANSO stage. However, points are deducted from the lead car driver if his/her line through a corner hugs the inside thereof, such that the trailing car has no space to get inside.

Photo by: Shogunmaster (2013 Tokyo Auto Salon-D1 Demo Run)