NZ Performance Car - - Contents - Jaden Mar­tin Email: jaden@per­for­mance­car.co.nz In­sta­gram: jaden_nzpc­magazine

A re­cent trip to round two of the lo­cal drift­ing se­ries left me think­ing about how the pun­ters watch and in­ter­pret bat­tles. It’s a de­bate that has thrived for years among those who watch and those who are in­volved with the se­ries, amid con­tin­ued mis­un­der­stand­ing by the pun­ters of — and out­right dis­agree­ment with — the judg­ing cri­te­ria that the com­pe­ti­tion is based around.

It was clear to see that those who were buy­ing tick­ets val­ued prox­im­ity dur­ing bat­tles over main­tain­ing line and, to a de­gree, an­gle, and felt that those who drive ag­gres­sively on the lead car’s door should be re­warded for their ef­forts — ev­i­denced by the ab­so­lute roar­ing from the crowd dur­ing the Cole Arm­strong ver­sus, well, ev­ery­one bat­tles.

So, the ques­tion that’s been raised time and time again is, do the rules need to be ad­justed to favour prox­im­ity over line for the chase car in or­der for pun­ters to bet­ter un­der­stand how a bat­tle has gone? Ul­ti­mately, prox­im­ity is the eas­i­est fac­tor for pun­ters to un­der­stand. See­ing a chase car go doorto-door with the lead car the whole run cre­ates the ef­fect that they’ve done enough to win.

In short, my an­swer is no. Prox­im­ity shouldn’t be favoured over the ex­ist­ing cri­te­ria. How­ever, where a lead car is throw­ing down a run that meets the line, speed, and an­gle that the judges have asked for, and the chase car is match­ing that same line, speed, and an­gle, then prox­im­ity should be re­warded for the chase car. If a chase car is shal­low­ing out or div­ing off line and for­go­ing an­gle to gain prox­im­ity, then it will lose points.

Line is not only im­por­tant for a lead car to score well but for a chase car, too, as, without em­pha­sis on main­tain­ing line, the lead car could drive as shal­lowly as it can, mak­ing it near-on im­pos­si­ble to throw down a good chase, which ends up look­ing messy for both cars. A good line sets up and al­lows a good chase, as the chase driver can an­tic­i­pate where the lead car should be, and push hard through the smoke.

I think that most peo­ple will agree with that, and what’s funny is that this is ex­actly how the cur­rent rules are writ­ten. I think it falls down to com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the au­di­ence: peo­ple felt a dis­con­nect be­tween what they saw and how that was ul­ti­mately scored.

Per­haps the so­lu­tion can be found by look­ing at in­ter­na­tional se­ries, in which, in the likes of the Ir­ish Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship and many Ja­panese com­pe­ti­tions, the judges are on the mic, ready to ex­plain how they’ve scored be­fore an­nounc­ing the de­ci­sion and then mov­ing onto the next bat­tle; or the scores are dis­played along­side quick notes — too shal­low, off line, straight-lined, etc. — on the big screen at the track. The in­for­ma­tion is there on the fly, and is recorded on live doc­u­ments that teams have ac­cess to, so com­mu­ni­cat­ing that same in­for­ma­tion to the crowd will clear up some con­fu­sion, even if only a lit­tle.

None of this meant to take away from the solid job and hard calls the judges had to make over the week­end or the mam­moth ef­fort put in by all of the be­hind-the-scenes crew to make it hap­pen, and I know that this very de­bate is un­der re­view by all those in­volved.

I just want to see com­pe­ti­tion drift­ing here con­tinue to thrive and to keep the crowds com­ing back to fu­ture events.

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