Long before the drift racing got its professional start here in the U.S., somewhere around 2003 or 2004, depending on who you ask, it was already smoking hot in Japan, the country of origin. It continues to be one of the fastest growing motorsports, and as rapidly as its popularity grows in America, so too, is it blowing up in Europe.
When speaking about his BMW e30 Verbraeken says, old love never dies, as his competition car started out as his road car over ten years ago.
The Netherlands Lars Verbraeken got his start drifting in 2007, without any previous experience in any other forms of racing, and he immediately proved he was a natural. The sport was still in its infancy back then, and in Verbraeken's first ever drift competition, he qualified a very impressive third.
K&N sponsored European drift racer Lars Verbraeken believes his cars woes of last season are now behind him, and he is full-throttle into the 2011 season.
In the following 2008 season his string of successful race results continued to pile up, so much so that in the winter of 2008/2009 he was asked by, Remmo Niezen, from the Falken Drifteam Europe to join their team. Then, with the support of his new team, Verbraeken participated in the German IDS competition. And after a season filled with only firsts, seconds or thirds, and only two years after his first race, Verbraeken became the 2009 Driftmaster.
Last season, hoping to defend his title, Verbraeken switched from his trusty 300hp BMW V8, to a Toyota 1JZ, with more than 450hp, but unfortunately it was not at once a winning combination for the talented K&N sponsored driver.
"I built a new Toyota 1JZ - GTE engine in my (BMW) e30 in the winter of 2010, and during the season were many problems, mostly with the driveline," Verbraeken told K&N Race News. The cause of the problems was that I didn't manage to fine tune the car. Now it looks like everything is solved, and I have already had lots of diving time to get used to the car. The car has lots of grip because of the placement of the engine (30cm trough bulkhead) and the placement of the radiator, and with the gas tank in the trunk."
With his car troubles behind him Verbraeken says"There's hope again for another good season and a chance to win more competitions. Having K&N backing me as a new sponsor adds even more confidence."
The plan is to attend as many big drift events as possible, such as Sport Auto Drift Challenge held during the Tuner Grand Prix, then the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, and the Truck Grand Prix. The Falken Drifteam also performs many drift shows during many of the biggest European races and tuning events.
"I'm really happy with my car, I have owned it for more than ten years, it used to be my street car," Verbraeken adds."So old love never dies. And I think the car is getting even more attention now with K&N's big name on it."
This season Verbraeken has also added some more Gymkhana (jim-kah-nuh) drifting events to his repertoire. It's a form of drifting that takes place on an open field, or parking lot, and requires drivers to negotiate around a series of cones, slaloms, 180 and 360 degree turns, figure eights and any number of other obstacles, using extreme acceleration, braking and of course, drifting.
"It's really new for me," Verbraeken says,"but it's a great sport for the spectators and there are lots of them! In my last event, which was the Tuner Grand Prix Drift Challenge, there were about 25,000 spectators." Verbraeken qualified second in that event and finished fifth out of 75 competitors.
Next up on the calendar for Verbraeken is a drift-demo during the 24 hour race at the Nürburgring."When people are a bit tired of straight line racing they can come over to a little track next the nordschleife and see us drifting. I think it will be a big success."
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