RECENT times have changed perceptions of motorsport – so much so that it has drivers asking why drive straight when you can go sideways? The question has already been answered through the art of drifting.
Invented by the Japanese and developed around the windy bends of their mountains, drifting has become a multi-million dollar exhibition sport which has found its way to the Bay’s shores.
Humewood resident Dayalin Padayachey is one such enthusiast who has ventured into the ride-to-slide world of drifting, building his own drift car, a BMW E46 318i – which has since been sold – and is currently busy with his latest drift project, a Nissan 350z.
“Working with my hands and creating a winner out of something at the lowest budget is what gives me a thrill. And being able to share something with my children that we all find fascinating is what got me interested in the hobby,” Padayachey said.
“The best by far is the bonding between father and son. And by the regular mechanical talks in the presence of my 16-year-old daughter, Neritika.
“She’s learnt a bit about turbos and modifications, and I always joke with her telling her that if a boy tries to impress her with his driving skills then he has big shoes to fill.”
Drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally or unintentionally oversteers, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels or all tyres, while maintaining control from entry to exit of a corner.
A car is drifting 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. Which, as one would imagine, comes with its own set of risks, as Dayalin’s son and drift driver, Dayaan, 18 explained.
“Obviously the mere fact that you are driving heavily modified cars sideways is a danger in its own. Accidents happen very quickly because at times the car is unpredictable and the surge of power whips the car’s tail in a different direction from your intention.
“Bike drifting comes with its own set of challenges, the biggest is the fact that you are exposed and can easily be flung off the bike,” Dayaan said. As a motorsport discipline, professional drifting competitions are held worldwide and are judged according to the speed, angle, showmanship and line taken through a corner or set of corners.
The history of drifting as we know it today goes way back to the 1960s on the winding mountain roads of Japan.
Back then, a group of racers called the Rolling Zoku raced on the twisty mountain roads. Kunimitsu Takahashi is said to have invented drifting. However, the trend is still new to Nelson Mandela Bay – with only two events having been hosted so far. But it is slowly picking up in the metro, with the Padayacheys leading the pack. They have already developed a drift bike as well.
“Bike drifting is regarded as one of the most dangerous sports in the world. I’m drifting a 2008 Suzuki GSX-R. It’s old, but very reliable.
“Bigger chain and sprockets will give you a drift bike. As far as I know I am the only person in PE to do bike drifting,” Dayaan said. “I was invited to do a bike drift demonstration at the Cape Town National SupaDrift event which was held in April. The SupaDrift is coming to Port Elizabeth soon.”
It is also important to note that drifting is not the same as spinning. How you balance the steering inputs and the amount of throttle is what constitutes drifting and makes it much more controlled than spinning – in which one simply tries to keep the wheels spinning for as long as possible. – Tremaine van Aardt
Dayalin Padayachey speaks to World of Wheels about drifting
WHAT type of cars are best suited for drifting and why?
I feel that Japanese cars are more suited for drifting because of their suspensions and power delivery, whereas German cars need a little more work, for example diff and drive-shaft strengthening to suit horse power.
How much do drifters usually spend on modifying their cars?
You can take a standard car and fit an E-brake (hydraulic handbrake) to it, tweak the engine and you have a drift car, but if you compare this to a high-powered, turbo-charged engine you will see prices range from a thousand to tens of thousands of rands.
How are drift competitions judged?
As you enter the first bend you are judged on style and technique and then power control and style comes back into play during the run and the angle of your drift is important, then finally your exit.
How much time needs to be spent practising drifting? And how does one prepare for a drift competition?
Practice and more practice is the key. Car setup is the most important issue, then getting to know your car power and mastering the technique, is the combination for a good result
How does drifting on a bike differ from drifting in a car?
Car drifting is a little easier as there are 4 wheels compared to 2 and then the big factor of balance comes into play as well as control because if you spin out in a car you will end up in the barriers and if you spin out on a bike you will end up in hospital.
What are the engine specs of the 350Z? And how fast will it go top end?
Horse power on the 350z is standard 287 bhp (brake horse power). Compared to what is required for a good drift car which is 400 to 500 bhp. Lots more skill is required to drift an underpowered car as to a full horse power car.
Top end of a 350z is plus minus 248 kmh.
What is the fastest car you have driven and where did you drive it to?
The two fastest cars I have driven was a Porsche belonging to Raven Rungen which I ran at a top speed of 272km at a controlled top-end run at the annual Porsche Parade in 2012, and the other car was a modified BMW E36 M3 Turbo belonging to Mahesh Hooka of Autostyling, reaching 290km top end.
What car would you like to work on next, should you build another drift car?
I am busy with my dream car, my current Nissan 350z, turning into a full-spec drift car.