The Stars of DClub GP

Team Burst is no doubt a household name for anyone interested in drifting and its roots on the winding mountain roads of Japan. From their eye catching cars, through to their aggressive driving style and explosive tandems, they captured the attention of enthusiasts the world over.

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Naoki Nakamura was one of the drifters who originally sparked my interest in the sport and car culture overall. Viral videos of his antics both on the street and track as well as his controversial ban from competing in D1GP back in 2011, really drove home this persona of a street drifter whose focus was all about the driving and nothing else.

The Saturday of Pinkstyle GP saw drivers and crew interact with Naoki, discussing setups and technique. The language barrier was made simple with the help of Shane from Stacked Inc. being at the ready to translate any questions thrown Naoki’s way.

On the topic of set-ups, Naoki stated he found New Zealand’s drivers to be confident when it came to throwing their cars around but the way the cars were set-up was the major point of difference holding them back. Regardless of how confident a driver is if the setup is off it’s going affect their drifting.

Naoki is a strong supporter of starting from the basics, keep it simple and put in as much driving time as possible. The top priorities should be the bare essentials, an LSD, solid set of coil-overs and some decent rubber. Once you have these in hand, his big piece of advice was to focus on ride height and alignment settings. The man is a genius when it comes to setting up his cars, with years of experience and a lack of access to alignment machines in Japan he has developed the ability to feel and see when something isn’t right.

Naoki and Mikki were not the only Japanese drivers to grace our shores, with Ryota Hirawaka of Cutting Works Splash and Atsushi Kumekawa bringing his own S13 over from Japan to show us how it’s done. Ryota’s S14 ran into mechanical trouble but he still managed to squeeze in some seat time behind the wheel of Alex Barlass of Hageshi Standing’s wicked S14 for a few tandems over the weekend.

Of course in true New Zealand fashion, we were here to put on a show for our Japanese guests. Packing all of the international drivers into Ethan Bryant’s track scrapping Cefiro, where he showed them how wild we Kiwi’s can get. A hard shunt into the concrete walls that line Meremere hardly phased our Kiwi driver’s attempt to impress, peeling out a few more loops of Kiwi limiter bashing fun. Ryota stepping out ghost white, with the biggest grin on his face seemed to confirm Ethan had succeeded.

Not unexpected from a fresh build there were a few teething issues on the Saturday but come Sunday, she ran without a fault giving Naoki and Miki a chance to attack the Hampton’s Club Circuit in full force. Naoki and Miki were both confident in saying that the C’s Garage shop car supplied to them for the weekend, was the best car they have driven outside of Japan. Huge praise coming from such experienced drivers.

Speaking with Keisuke Nagashima one of the organizers over at DClub GP after the event, he commented that Naoki and Miki enjoyed their stay so much they were definitely considering a return visit. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait too long to see them tearing up our local tracks once again.

Keisuke was positive about the event, saying the team over at DClub GP were confident after the success of the event and were looking at their options for the future. With that thought in mind, I’m sure we are all creating a mental list of other Japanese legends they could potentially reel over to burn some rubber in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud.’

Kane Pilcher
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Photos: Kane Pilcher | Words: Kane Pilcher | Proofer: Shaun Constable

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