Georgy Chivchyan has won the 2018 FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup following an intense competition in Tokyo, Japan. The Russian bested 21 fellow top drifters from 13 different countries around the world in this, the only drift competition currently sanctioned by the FIA.
It was a truly international event, with Chivchyan taking to the top step of the podium ahead of Yves Meyer from Switzerland, and S. Chanatpon Kerdpiam from Thailand.
With much having changed since the inaugural event last year, including a highly-praised revised layout and an overhaul of the scoring system which this year placed the greatest emphasis on human judging helped by additional information provided by telemetry systems.
Following two days of practice in perfect conditions in the Daiba district of the Japanese capital, competitors were greeted with cooler conditions and rain in the air today (4 November). The Solo part of the event, which decides the top 16 who progress through to the Battles, was run in dry conditions, with drivers pushing hard around the course to score as highly as possible.
Three judges gave scores out of 30 points for the line, angle and style of each run, with 10 points also being awarded for speed.
Markers were laid down early on by last year’s winner Masato Kawabata, who posted a score of 85 to top Group A. As Group B took to the track, however, the Japanese ace began to slip down the order, firstly as Hideyuki Fujino posted a score of 86, before Chivchyan, known as ‘Gocha’, blitzed the field with two incredible scores – 88 on his first run and 95 on his second.
This score was to prove unmatched in the Solo runs, although impressive efforts from Marco Zakouril and Yves Meyer in the final group put them in second and third. It was a shock to see last year’s fourth-placed finisher Masashi Yokoi crashing out and scoring zero.
With the top 16 order deciding the pairings for the opening round of Battles, the drivers were thrown a curve ball by the conditions as a heavy rain shower meant they would face wet conditions as they ventured back out onto the track.This resulted in the speed on the course no longer being considered by the judges, and precision driving becoming the highest priority.
The first round of knockout stages resulted in an intense all-Russian Quarter-Final on one side of the field, with Chivchyan defeating last year’s runner-up and Russian Drift Series Team stable-mate Arkadiy Tsaregradtsev. The pair were almost inseparable on the course, but Chivchyan just did enough to progress to the Semi-Finals.
On the other side of the ladder, there were two shock results in the quarter finals, with Charles Ng knocked out by S. Chanatpon Kerdpiam and last year’s winner Kawabata retiring with mechanical issues for his Toyo Tires Glion Trust Racing Nissan GTR promoting Yves Meyer to the next stage for his Eventseelisberg team.
It was a thrilling first Semi-Final between Chivchyan and Naoto Suenaga, who came to blows in their second run through the course with Chivchyan chasing. Contact was made during Suenaga’s signature initiation, with the yellow Nissan Silvia nudging the orange Silvia ahead.The judges could not separate the pair across both runs, however, and so called for a ‘One-More-Time’, meaning the cars returned to do battle once again.
‘Gocha’ had a flawless first run, while Suenaga made a small mistake which ended up costing him dearly. In the second run, there was no contact, and the Russian positioned his car inches from the lead Japanese to secure his position in the final.
The second Semi-Final featured two drivers who perhaps would not have been predicted to make it this far in this worldwide competition, and while Kerdpiam and Meyer were level-pegging in the first run, the Thai driver made a small error, touched the leading BMW M2 of Meyer, and lost control.
This meant that incredibly, the final of the 2018 FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup would see Russia versus Switzerland – Chivchyan versus Meyer – in the final battle in front of the thousands of assembled fans in Tokyo.
With conditions improving and under the spotlights of Daiba, and while Meyer had made rapid progress throughout the day to fight valiantly, there was nothing the Swiss youngster could do to stop Chivchyan charging to victory.
With the tyre smoke settling and the spotlights turned out, today’s competition undoubtedly marked significant progress since the inaugural event twelve months ago, with a more complete event format and sporting system paving the way towards a bright future for FIA-sanctioned drifting events.
Georgy Chivchyan, FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup winner, said: “This is a very memorable moment for me, and I knew from the Solo runs that I would have to battle my team-mates early on in the Battles. I wanted for everybody to be successful, but every battle is very important to me and I’m grateful I could make it this far. This track in Tokyo is ‘the place’ to drift at, and it really matched my car and I did my best. I wish I could’ve battled my team-mate higher up the ladder, but at the last FIA IDC he beat me here, so it was a good bit of revenge to be able to take the win this time.”
Yves Meyer, FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup second place, said: “To be honest I didn’t expect to be here when the day started. When I woke up in the morning surrounded by all the famous drifting stars, I didn’t feel like a drift king, more like a donkey kong, but during the day I think I’ve grown up to be at least a drift kid, and now I want to keep growing! It was an amazing event, starting from really good organisation and an amazing track and of course amazing spectators who love drifting. It’s always the best to drive somewhere where everyone is a fan and wants to see a good show – I think it was the best decision we could make to come here to Japan and to compete in the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup.
Chanatpon Kerdpiam, FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup third place, said: “We didn’t have the best Solo because there were mechanical problems on both of our runs, so we had to change everything before the Battles! I really like to drive in wet conditions rather than dry – two or three years ago I qualified 16th on a dry track, it rained and then I got first place, so it all worked really well for me today and I’m delighted to be here.”