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Drift rules – Drift competition

28 June 2010 2 Comments

This is a follow up to our last Drifting article we published “the art of drifting”. We were asked a question by one of our readers, how the rules and points structure work so in response to that this is how things are run.

In competition, drivers are given two non consecutive judged laps to qualify, with their top score counting towards position on the field. Only the top qualifying drivers are allowed to continue into the tandem tournament rounds, with draws in scoring determined by entry speed.

So how do the judges actually judge this Drift competition?
Each qualifying run is judged on four criteria: Speed, Line, Angle, and Overall Impression.

Speed is a combination of the entry speed on the first corner as well as the amount of speed the driver is able to carry through the entire course. Drivers are encouraged to drive as fast as they can through the entire course, not just the entry point. Maximum points are awarded for fast entries and consistent speed through the entire course.

Line is the ideal path a vehicle must take on course and is marked by Inner Clipping Points, Outer Clipping Points, and Transition Zones. Inner Clipping Point are reference points on the course where the vehicle’s front bumper should come as close as possible to the reference point. Outer Clipping Points are also reference points and scored by determining how close the corner of the vehicle’s rear bumper comes to the point. Transition Zones are areas on track where the direction of the line changes and vehicles must change the direction of their drift. Scoring will be based on the execution of the transition. The drift line will be given during the drivers’ meeting.

Angle measures the amount of counter-steer and relative rear slip angle a driver uses through the course.

Overall Impression is the general feel of the pass and how well the other three criteria were executed through the entirety of the lap. This is the most subjective criteria and judges will look for the most “excitement” that the driver can bring.

Drivers should be able to demonstrate full control of the car at all time. All drivers start with 100 point and receive deductions through the run if they fail to meet the strict guidelines outlined by the judges during the drivers’ meeting. Each of three judges gives a score out of 100 possible points, and the three scores are averaged for each lap. The highest score for each driver is the one that is counted. Spins, major under-steer or push, or having two tires off-course at any point during the pass results in an automatic zero score.

Tandem Elimination Rounds

Tandem round are based on two runs, in Head-to-Head format, with competitors paired up based on seeding position. The higher qualifier will lead the first run and the second led by the lower qualifier.

The critical success factor is for the lead car to be able to run the course without error while being pressured by the following car. The following car is to try and “out drive” the lead car. Driver consistency during a tandem battle is critical.

Lead Car must be able to clear the course without making any errors due to distraction or pressure by the following car.

Following Car needs to run the same basic line as the lead car but may also take a higher line in order to pressure the lead driver. Taking a lower line than the lead car will result in a loss of advantage. If the lead car is off line, the following car will gain advantage points by staying on the correct line. The following car should keep as close to the lead car as possible to gain the advantage.

Passing is not encouraged during tandem battles. Passing is only allowed if the lead car fumbles, is well off line or loses drift. Passing must be executed in a safe and professional manner. A safe pass is one that is done in such a way that the car being passed does not lose any speed after the pass is complete. Passing must be done while in drift, without the interrupting the line of the car being passed and in the proper line. If a pass results in contact, the passing car may be penalized.

Collisions occur during tandem battle and in the event of contact, the driver at fault will lose advantage points. Incidental contact is allowed but not encouraged. Drivers are required to complete the entire course, even if the other driver crashes, hits, spins, stalls or is not able to complete the run. Drivers are always being judged as long as they are on course.

Pace Zone can be marked with a cone or comparable marker and may be placed on the starting straightaway to keep the Tandem Battles fair and close together. The use of a Pace Zone will be specified during the drivers’ meetings.

Tandem Scoring will be observed by the  judges during the head-to-head battle. There will be no declaration of scores between the two runs. At the conclusion of the head-to-head battle, each judge will individually declare a winner. Judges will select from three options:

1. Driver “A” wins
2. Driver “B” wins
3. “Tie”

The majority will rule a winner will be decided. In the event there is no clear majority, a “One More Time” will be granted, and the competitors will begin another 2-run head-to-head battle. Multiple “One More Times” may be necessary to determine a winner.

All judging will be done from the judging tower. If a clipping point is not visible from the judging tower, a flag system may be used to communicate whether a driver properly scores the clipping point.


  • Len said:

    this is extremely interesting
    are the rules the identical in south africa?
    I have a 200sx that i want to try drift sometime next year, but i need to upgrade the suspension and shocks


  • jomacher said:

    Knowledge is power. Power is what gets you at 7000 revs doing 60km/hr. Awsome post. Blair, if you don’t mind me commenting. Although the Japanese and Americans are way ahead of us in South Africa these are great guidelines which you can follow in preperation for your drift car. Please know that there is a license that you will need to require in order to compete professionally. You can visit monstermobs website for more details on this. Good luck on your venture and know that it is very expensive but once you are spotted by the sponsors your tyres do come cheaper and in some cases free of charge.


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