Event: Drift Grand Prix – Bucharest

The quality of a drift event is given by a certain number of facts. It depends on the venue and it also depends on what drivers will be competing over there, among other things. Well, the Drift Grand Prix of Romania was going to have both. Imagine bringing together the best drivers in Europe, in front of one of the biggest, most impressive, breath-taking buildings in the world. This is something that you have to see with your own eyes, even if your brain might not cope with the whole thing at first sight. This is just like drifting in front of the Pentagon or the White House!

Top drifters from all over the continent were gathered in downtown Bucharest, for this last large scale european drift event of 2011. We’re talking about drivers from the UK, from Poland, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and of course Romania. This might have just been the first time when all of the big european names in drifting got together on a urban “streeto” like scenery, for an official competition.

The paddock area was literally crowded with almost 50 cars, ranging from BMW’s to S-Chassis cars, Toyotas and so on. Nikkolet Szanto was the only female driver in the competition, as she brought her M5 V8 powered BMW Z4 from Hungary, which is actually for sale at the moment, as the car is not quite the most easy to drive machine in the world.

Another very interesting car from Hungary was this RB26 powered S13, driven by “Laky” Boy. This guy is one of the toughest hungarian drivers, as he’s been involved in drifting for quite some time. Maybe some of you guys have seen photos of his V8 Compressor powered BMW E30 pickup.

The romanian drivers tried not to dissapoint their fans, and they brought out some pretty cool machines too. Like this BMW E30, running a turbo M3 E46 engine, which develops about 500 horsepower at 0.6 bars of boost in a very safe setup. For 2012 the plan is to bring the boost up, and the power levels will probably go up as high as 700 horsepower.

So let’s do some “briefing” of our own, so that you can better comprehend the track layout. Looking at this picture exactly the way it is, the cars would start of from the left side. They would go downhill, full throttle, in some cases reaching speeds of 160 kph. They would then initiate the drift, going through the outer clip zone, and heading towards the next one, while drifting across 6 lanes.  Afterwards they would go in for the right hand transition, keeping their speed up, and with somewhat limited visibility through the corner. This was going to be the “smoke the hell out of your tires – run the concrete wall” like part of the track. From this high speed tarmac zone they would go onto a more technical- paved surface, where they would slow down a bit, while having to consider to lower grip levels. But still, you really have to see the track for yourselves to fully comprehend the scale of the event.

Given the size of the event, it was quite impossible for the media not to show up. So the drivers were also facing quite a few camera crews that were willing to interview them and find out more about drifting itself.

How does a BMW 1 series look like with more than 2000 horsepower behind it? Well, something like this. Before going up to the start line, the cars would roll up behind the 1 Series Safety Car and wait for their next run. If you look carefully, the  street stop lights were still working during the event!

You might not recognize this car at first sight, but if you watch carefully, you might just notice the fact that this was actually Marcin Mospinek from PUZ Drift Team, with new livery on his car (and his teammates’ as well), especially made for the romanian “adventure”. This was just part of practice, but the polish driver was going all out, as you would expect. Never before has this been done in front of the People’s Palace in Romania, and some people are still in shock after seeing all of the drivers go all out on roads where the speed limit is usually set at 50kph!

The Dragon Performance RX7 was probably one of the most sought after machines for this event. The way it looks, the way it sounds, and the fact that it was the only one of it’s kind really got the peoples’ attention. As you can see here, Brad Hacker was also having his practice session, but still leaving behind a fair amount of smoke.

Bartosz Stolarski from polish RB Drift Team brought his LS2 powered S14 to the streets of Bucharest, and the echoes being made by his V8 roar “bouncing around” the Constitution Square brought joy to the hearts and especially “ears” of the thousands of people in the audience.

While drivers were still preparing to hit the practice sessions, it was time for some more interviews with drivers. This was Phillipp Stegemann from Germany, driver of the MPS Engineering RB26 powered , 4 door Skyline R32, which he used for winning the International Drift Series competition in Germany, at NurburgRing, a couple of weeks ago.

The line-up of amazing cars also contained this 2 door Subaru GC, driven by Walton Smith from the UK, and powered by a RB27 engine. This car might not be appealing to everyone’s taste, but it does have the power of driveability to make it an amazing machine.

Marcin Mospinek and Grzegorz Hypki are just two of the drivers of PUZ Drift Team. This was just part of their training session, as they are usually drifting door-to-door, and sometimes even backwards. The crowd really seemed to enjoy watching these two guys drive, as they would start screaming from the very moment they would enter the track.

More and more people are starting to get “infected” with the “Trelasus Amazingus” syndrom. This is actually quite viral, and you get it as soon as you set your eyes on the 2011 Polish Drift Champion, who is also nicknamed Trelabata because of his backwards entries!

A total of 8 cars made the trip from Poland for this event, with 4 Nissans and 4 BMWs. Mateusz Wlodarczyk was driving this 4 door M3 E46, and, as you would expect, this car couldn’t have been competitive enough with the stock engine, so it is now sporting a much needed supercharger!

This was one of the most aggressive romanian drivers, even though his car was one of the most underpowered around. He was using a 4.0 liter V8 engine, and he seemed to be driving full throttle every time when this was possible, making him one of favourite local drivers at the event.

Nigel Colfer in the Marangoni 1JZ S13 was considered to be one of the favourite drivers for winning the event, especially after taking 2nd place in the 2011 European Drift Allstars season. His runs were pretty good, but it seemed like he wasn’t driving at his full potential for some reason.

The WKD Imports is maybe one of the top S13s around that still retains the SR20 engine, not going for a 6 cylinders or even 8 cylinders swap. Sadly to say, Wesley Keating did not manage to qualify for Top16, but the car was not going to get any rest until the event was all over with.

It must really be a hard job to keep this car looking so mint all the time, especially when drifting at such high speeds, and against all sorts of opponents, from the intermediate level ones to the biggest names out there. Is Brad Hacker going to keep the car looking the same for next year or is he going to surprise us with something different?

You would think that the smoke coming out of a drift cars’ tires totally depends on it’s horsepower level. Well, the guys from PUZ Drift Team are running NA 5 liter V8 engines, with less than 500 horsepower, but that doesn’t mean they can’t outsmoke some 600+ turbo’ed machines!

If you’re from eastern Europe, you might know Todor Dunev from 2010, when he won the King of Europe Drift Series. If you’re from western Europe, you might remember him from his Wembley run this year, at European Drift Allstars, where he finished in 4th, after defeating Daijiro Yoshihara in Top8!

Seeing this beast on the very streets of a city can easily send chills down your spine. Hearing the approximately 560 horsepower 2JZ revv up, and seeing the car being brutally pushed forward is nothing short of mind blowing. It seems like it’ll rip apart the tarmac and take off to the sky, in a very seemingly different, but very controllable manner.

Bartosz Stolarski was really in top shape for this event, and the fact that he qualified in 12th should make you understand how though the competition was!

Piotr Wiecek from Poland is also part of Team RB, and he’s driving a 2JZ powered S14. Believe or not, this was his first full season of drifting, and it seems like he’s really gone a long way, and the proof lies in the fact that he qualified 11th for the Drift Grand Prix in Bucharest.You should really keep an eye out for this young lad (21 years old) , as he’s sure to make some big steps in the near future!

This is the man behind the machine. This is the man that has stirred up the entire crowd, making them cheer for him like they had known him for a lifetime. It’s about skills like his that turn man into hero. Pawel Trela.

Even tough he had some small issues during some of his runs, Trela proved that being a professional is all about being able to cope with the stress and prior mistakes and to go all out. He qualified 2nd, being surpassed only by upcoming driver Bojan Kurbalija from Serbia.

Walton had some issues with the car, that left him with little track time all in all. Still, the JPP Impreza was fixed in time, and he went out for some solid qualifying runs that placed him in 15th.

Before Top16, all the drifters got the final chance of driving the streets of Bucharest, in front of pretty big crowd, sitting on the very lawn of the People’s Palace.

But only these 16 would make it to the main show, where they would go up against eachother in head-to-head, breath taking battles, much to the peoples’ delightment. From left to right, we have Nigel Colfer, Piotr Wiecek, Walton Smith, Pawel Trela, Brad Hacker, Marius Mitrache, Adam Nagy, Todor Dunev, Grzegorz Hypki, Bartosz Stolarski, Marcin Mospinek, Juha Rintanen, Mateusz Wlodarczyk,Krzystof Romanowski. There are the two drivers missing, and those were Brendon Stone and Bojan Kurbalija, who were still in the pits with some last minute adjustments.

Almost 50 drivers dared to enter the challenge. Only 16 survived till this moment. And everyone was thinking about the same thing: Who was going to win the Drift Grand Prix of Bucharest?

Walton Smith was going up against one hell of an opponent, but everyone knew that they both had the skills and the will for winning the battle, as to be able to move to Top8.

Everyone that followed this battle surely agrees to the fact that it was unbelievable. The two of them were going so fast and so close to eachother! When following, Walton had to endure somewhat of a torture, with Pawel pushing hard from behind.

These guys go up against eachother all the time back home in Poland, and here they were doing the same thing on the streets of Bucharest. Still, when racing, you have to forget about your relationship to the guy you’re competing against, and give it all you’ve got. Because only one man can take 1st place at the end of the day.

For Piotr Wiecek, this was actually his first drift event outside Poland, and, regarding the fact that he is quite less experienced than Grzegorz Hypki, he would be the one to lose the battle, but he went out of the fight with his head up, after  putting on some very nice runs for the people in the audience.

Brad Hacker was in a rush to go to the starting line, but we just managed to get this shot of him. We guess that no photo of this machine can look bad, no matter what!

Brad was going up against romanian driver Marius Mitrache, who was driving an almost stock Skyline R33. With less than 300 horsepower available, it seemed like a miracle for most of the people at the event that the romanian could make it to Top16.

Excitement can be described in many ways. Each person has their own way of expressing things. But either way you look at it, faces like this were more than common during the two days of Drift Grand Prix, because of the amazing background scenery and because of the drifting that was being exhibited by Europes’ finest!

After the All Polish battle earlier one, it was time for the Irish guys to live the same experience. Nigel Colfer was going up against Brendan Stone, who was driving Wesley Keatings’ car, after his own S15 had broken down for some reason.

Nigel started out as a favourite, but Brendan was out there driving like a madman, seemingly unbothered by the fact that he had not driven the car ever before. So in the end, the 1JZ powered S13 driven by Nigel was taken out by SR20 powered S13 driven by Brendan.

Really aggressive driving by Brendan Stone!

Adam Nagy from Hungary was driving the DriftMonkey, 1JZ powered, carbon fiber E36, and he was struggling to keep up with Todor Dunev from Bulgaria, and this ended up with Todor moving on to top8.

Juha Rintanen, driving the 2JZ powered S14 from Finland, was having a small advantage in the battle against polish driver Wlodarczyk, until the final corner on the track, where his rear right wheel literally popped out, with the car lifting off the ground and creating some pretty big sparks. This was the end of his Drift Grand Prix Bucharest adventure.

In a battle between two quite different BMWs, the older E30 was the one to take the win, with Grzegorz Hypki moving on to the semifinal, where he would meet his toughest opponent of the day.

One of the other Top8 Battles was the one between polish driver Bartosz Stolarski and australian driver Brad Hacker. Two very interesting machines, with the S14 using the biggest engine in the whole event (6.0 liter V8 – LS2) and the Rx7 using the smallest engine ( 1.3 liter rotary 13B).

It’s true that Brad Hacker is a fast driver, but for this time, Stolarski left him sitting in a cloud of smoke, taking him out of Top8 and subsequently out of the race.

The most intense battle of the day was going to be the one between Grzegorz Hypki and Pawel Trela. This was the only battle that had to go to a second One More Time , because the judges could not decide on who should be the one to take the win.

Going into the second One More time, these guys wished eachother good luck, showing true sportsmanship as they always do, and everyone was keen to see how their battle was going to be like.

It was maybe because of the stress, or the adrenaline overdose, but Hypki took things a little too far, and he hit the the outer part of the track. That spelled disaster for both drivers, as they collided at over 100kph, rendering the cars useless, and with pretty heavy damage to both of them. As the world seemed to stand still for a couple of seconds, everyone was worried to death for the two drivers…

But they both got out with no injury whatsoever, and everybody was extremely happy to see that they’re ok!

You really have to have a strong character to be able to go over a crash with a smile on your face. These two guys are true professionals, whatever way you look at it.

They didn’t even get to acess the damage on the cars, because they wanted to show everyone that they were fine, because people were really shocked about the crash, and they really could do with seeing the two drivers safe and sound.

Pawel Trela was awarded 2nd place and Grzegorz Hypki was placed in 4th, as he was the one responsible for the whole incident. So the final battle was all down to Brendan Stone and Bartosz Stolarski. After some very hard battling, Brendan Stone was the one to take the win, making the victory even more impressive, regarding the fact that he was driving a borrowed car!

With three polish drivers inside top4, and two of them on the podium, it was certain that Brendan Stone was not going to have an easy trophy awarding ceremony.

And this is how the Drift Grand Prix Bucharest event came to an end, after two days of glorious drifting, having an amazing scenery in the background, and some amazing drivers to say the least. Can this be considered the best event in Europe for 2011 and one of the best drift events worldwide in this season? We think so, but we’ll let you follow a few more photos and upcoming videos so that you can make up your own mind. Keep an eye on the Driftworks Media Forum


Photographs and words by Dragos from Drift.ro – Check out the Drift.ro facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/drift.ro


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9 years ago

Great post! Was watching whole event at stream and I talked with few drivers afterwards- event was massive! Right in the middle of the city! Too bad it was so dark. And uhhh… Some of the judges calls were at least “unreasonable” for me and not only me. Still- great one!

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