Shanghai Daily Hangzhou Special

Shanghai Daily Hangzhou Special

To show the world a thriving and dynamic Hangzhou, on March 25, 2009, Shanghai Daily inaugurated its Hangzhou Special page in the capital of Zhejiang Province known as the "tourism heaven." The page is available to all Shanghai Daily readers Mondays through Fridays. The page aims at display Hangzhou's abundant tourism resources and sound investment environment with vivid pictures and stories in an all round way.

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Driver happily drifts along as Guinness record holder

Dec 14, 2011 | Author: Xu Wenwen

CHINESE driver Wang Qi is the Guinness world record holder for the longest vehicle drift, setting the mark in September.

Drifting is both a driving technique and a motor sport. It occurs when a driver intentionally over steers, causing traction to be lost in the rear wheels through turns at high speed while maintaining vehicle control. A car is considered drifting when the rear slip angle is greater than the front slip angle before the corner apex, and the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn. The driver has to be controlling these factors for it to be considered drifting.

Professional drifting competitions are held worldwide and are judged.

Over two months ago, the 29-year-old Hangzhou native drifted his race car 5,802.3 meters at the 2011 World Drift Series Championship, completing more than 13 laps inside the Olympic Center Stadium in Tianjin.

The feat more than doubled the former longest drift of 2,308 meters, according to Guinness.

"Before the performance, I was excited but not nervous," Wang tells Shanghai Daily. "I think a calm, stable mental attitude is the most important thing for being a good race driver.

"No matter how proficient your skills are, being relaxed ensures you perform your best in front of an audience, just like a circus act," he adds. "I didn't stop until the tires were almost worn out."

Drifting was first introduced in China in Guangdong Province in 2005. A couple of years later more Chinese became aware of the sport through the Japanese anime series "Initial D" about drifting races.

However, there are only a few drift racers in the country because of the skill and money it requires.

Hangzhou has one professional drifting team, Hangzhou Zhongce Sunrise, and the city hosts a World Drift Series event every year.

Zhang Shaohua, one of China's top drifting drivers who is on the Hangzhou Zhongce Sunrise team, says the sport has been more successful in the city compared to elsewhere in the country.

"Hangzhou drivers boast the most medals and Zhejiang Province people have been bold in spending money on the sport," he says.

Zhang says to cut down a car for racing costs at least 200,000 yuan (US$31,400), while practicing also costs a fair amount. A two-hour training session that uses up a couple of tires will cost around 4,000 yuan.

Wang, who runs a logistics company, has so far invested 1 million yuan into his race career.

"Someone has already invested 5 million yuan and achieved very little," Wang says.

Wang's passion for drifting started in 2007 when he saw "Initial D." The series diverted his attention from cycling and motorcycling.

Without any teacher, Wang says he started out by spending 100,000 yuan to buy a car.

He then continued by studying the sport and techniques on the Internet, in car magazines and from other race drivers.

"Three or four years ago, that's basically how Chinese drifting fans started," he says. "We didn't know how to cut down a car for racing and didn't know where to buy equipment."

Eventually Wang says he reached some Taiwan drivers via Internet. Later on, he hired two teachers - the late Xu Lang, China's top driver and two-time Dakar Rally participant who died of head trauma after an accident in a race in 2008, and Youichi Imamura, a Japanese drifting driver.

In 2008, Wang says he got involved with Hangzhou Zhongce Sunrise team.

Wang has won a gold medal at the national championship and a silver medal in an Asia-Pacific drift race. Wang says in the future he hopes to extend his Guinness record to at least 6 kilometers.

Wang hopes the sport attracts more followers in China in the future.

In 2007, he set up the Hangzhou Drifting Racing Sport Club. The club now has 10 members.

He says he wants to change the nature of the club from attracting fans to one that trains drivers for drifting competitions.