Drifting is a driving technique where the driver intentionally oversteers, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels or all tires, while maintaining control for the entirety 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 to the turn (e.g. car is turning left, wheels are pointed right or vice versa, also known as opposite lock or counter-steering).
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.
- Abdulrahim, M. (2006). “On the Dynamics of Automobile Drifting”. University of Florida. ITSD.
Competitive drifting is judged motorsport where a panel of judges will award points based on a drivers entry speed (and consistency), racing line as demarcated by clipping points, angle and style.
Drivers are to enter a corner as fast as possible with as much sustained angle as possible while running a preset racing line as laid out by the judges prior to competition. Several corners are linked while sliding with a driver deemed to be ‘switching’. Points are lost for: a loss of control, spinning out, returning to grip conditions (loss of drift), shallow angle, erratic speed changes, leaving the track and making contact with clipping cones.
The competition is run in a knock out format with drivers first needing to qualify by doing a solo run in front of the judges. The top 16 (or 32, entry numbers dependent) drivers are then paired on a Pro Ladder* where drivers are eliminated until one remains. This is done in tandem / tuiso battle format where two cars drift simultaneously with each driver afforded a chance to lead.
In tandem battle, it is the duty of the lead car to run as close to a 100 point (perfect) run as possible with the chase car mirroring / mimicking the lead car. Scoring works on a sliding scale with each driver starting on 5 points and losing points for every infringement. The point is awarded to the opponent so that at any given time, both scores add up to 10. The driver with the most points after the two passes is deemed the winner.
In the event of a tie, drivers are sent back to the start for a rematch which is known as an OMT or One More Time. This can be influenced by crowd participation, usually chants of “One More Time!”.
Locally, in South Africa, there are two main governing bodies of sanctioned, competitive drifting, both overseeing drifting championships.
- Motorsport South Africa (MSA):
- SupaDrift Series
- SupaDrift Series X Regional
- World of Motorsport (WOMZA):
- Cambees Midas Championship
*Pro Ladder: 1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, 3 vs 14 and so on.