D1lights R1 at Bihoku Circuit

Another day in paradise for those who love drifting as much as I do. In my first year living here in the motherland, I spent A LOT of my time travelling around, visiting places up to 8 hours away. I quickly realized this was an expensive hobby I couldn’t afford to add to my list of already expensive hobbies. Nowadays I don’t spend much disposable income on this luxury unless it’s REALLY close to me. D1lights, thankfully, for round 1, was really close to me.

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As soon as I got to the main gate at Bihoku Circuit, the rubber started to fill my nostrils and engine combustions my ears. I was in the right place, ready for a treat of a day. Lines and lines of cars stamped with stickers filled the usually empty overflow pit area at Bihoku. Every car apart from maybe 1 or 2 was following the same theme. Or maybe they just had a lot of sponsors?

This one was my favourite styled D1lights car competing. Favourite styled, or maybe more my favourite livery on one of the cars. The colour scheme was great, maybe some yellow wheels at the back might have worked a tiny bit better (IMO). Tribal designs (?) look great, I’m glad that they’re making such a strong comeback.

Let’s quickly note that this was a Saturday, and as such wasn’t actually the main battle day. Not much tandem action, but that didn’t matter. Still, a great atmosphere, with 50+ suburb drift cars pushing the limits to get the perfect line for Sunday, the competition day.

Do you know Bihoku? If you don’t, I suggest you do some research and watch some old videos. The first corner is legit, a death wish. There is a long run-up before the corner, so usually, you exit that corner in 2nd or 3rd and are at the top of 3rd for the entrance of the corner. Turning hard left, then flicking the moving coffin right, while not spinning out, and scrubbing enough speed so you don’t end up flipping your car just under the judge’s tower (which I’ve seen a few people do, unfortunately.)

Sitting at the back straight you have a great view of the whole track. And an especially close up view of the first corner, so much so, that if the drive comes in too hot, you’ll be wearing a suit of dust. You’ve got to have balls of steel to steer your car into a tyre wall at 150(ish) km/h.

I don’t bother trying to get media accreditation any more. Just rock up and start taking photos. I got away with this position for about 15 minutes before one of the staff came over and told me to move.

The lack of lead/chase practice was a little bit disappointing. The only two cars feeding my addiction of proximity were these red rockets. They were able to get pretty close too. Not bad for just the D1lights division.

Look at his helmet. His neck is so far cranked left because that’s where the car was heading. Reverse entry after reverse entry, that’s something that the first corner of Bihoku Circuit is good for. I can’t even get close to a reverse entry in my Silvia, but I’d assume the momentum of the fast entry really helps to bring the car back around.

This, the dust storm! Come off the track for just a second and you’re flinging up clouds into the crowds of people.

While I didn’t have any sort of media accreditation, others did. Equipped with dark coloured safety vests, all these guys needed to protect them from any injury was a nice solid push-bike helmet. People don’t like being road cones in Japan apparently…

After a few hours watching the drifting, I headed back into the pits to take a more in-depth look into the cars present. I was also doing a bit of research for my car. Looking at everyone’s oil cooler set-ups and spacers for when I go and splurge on one for myself.

Of course the whole Pink Style/Team Burst/N Style or whatever all those pink Kansai cars are called were there, transporting all their tyres the only way an S13 can. I wonder what it’s like to use expensive and wide tyres when drifting. Must produce a lot of grip!

Nissans and Toyotas were the main, if not only brands of cars out and about for D1lights. There might have been an RX-7 hidden in there somewhere, but if there was I didn’t pay any attention to it. Every single car was well presented, all body panels, all lights, all with awesome paint jobs, and all with some kind of livery. It really makes for a good viewing experience when all the cars competing look so pretty.

This S14 was probably the cleanest car that I could find. The engine bay especially was superb. I think I’ll be following this style for my oil cooler. In front of the radiator and behind the fmic, sadly It does mean more hot air, but I think it’s better than putting it on the side where it could easily be damaged, as it’s not a cheap part!

A blast from the past with this American coloured Laurel, don’t see many of these drifting in Japan anymore. He wasn’t doing too well out on the track, must have had the power figures from back in the 90s as well – hah.

Lastly, we have my favourite car from the weekend. It wasn’t show spec, it was full drift spec. No crazy aero, or livery for that matter. This car looked to be pure function. Trust me when I tell you it drifted just as good as it looked camouflaged in between all the other D1lights cars.

It’s been a long time since I went to another pro-level drifting event. It was good, but in all honesty, the just for fun events are much more, well, fun. Look out for the next little article about one of those fun events from early in June coming to this website soon.

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Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable

Ambition Works 2012 – 2019

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