The first official Drift Event to be hosted in India, the JK Tyre Drift Challenge is an important milestone in Indian Motorsports, as it introduces drifting to Indian Motorsport fans. There were 19 participants from around the country, including the “Drift King of India”, Sanam Sekhon of Chandigarh and Mudit Grover. In the end, it was Sanam Sekhon who took top honours in the D1 and D2 categories.
Held at the Buddh International Circuit, the JK Tyre Drift Challenge had three categories: D1, D2 and Open. What differentiated them were the tyre widths allowed. The D1 category had tyres that were allowed a width of 215-255mm, whilst the D2 category had a maximum allowed width of 205mm. The Open class, as the name suggests, had all competitors, regardless of the tyre width eligible for the Open category.
Mercedes-Benz were the most common cars among the participants, with an odd BMW M3 and M4 peeking out. But the star cars of the show were the custom-builds by Mudit Grover and Sanam Sekhon. The LS swapped E46 of Grover also sported bumper deletes, completing the quintessential ‘Drifter’ look. In contrast, Sekhon’s Lexus GS300 with a 2JZ swap and Cowboy Bebop Livery looked ready to tear the tarmac.
Drifting differs fundamentally from other motorsports disciplines, in the way that it encourages showboating and elegance in driving, while not necessarily being the fastest round the track. Drivers attempt to maintain line, angle, style, and speed in order to be awarded the most points from the judges. Time taken around the track is not as important.
The event was judged by a panel of judges including the legendary Taniguchi Atsushi-san of Japan, Mr. Tanakorn Lertyaovarit from Thailand and Mr. Alistair Woodham from India. Points were awarded by the judges for elegance, car control and the ability to fluidly drift through all corners of the track.
In D1 class, Sanam Sekhon in his GS300 won with an incredible 744 points. Jugraj Singh Bhurjee in his BMW M3 scored P2 with 476 points. Mudit Grover took his BMW E46 to round off the podium with 286 points scored. The D2 class saw Sanam Sekhon and his Lexus dominate once again, scoring 460 points. Mudit Grover promoted himself to P2 with 262 points in his E46, while his wife, Mugdha Grover scored respectable 156 points in Mercedes C200 Kompressor to secure P3. It wasn’t a clean sweep by Sanam Sekhon, though, as in the Open class Mudit won with 700 points followed by Sekhon’s 636. Samyak Kapoor scored 281 points to get P3.
While the event mostly had racers negotiating the track alone, in the end the fans were treated to Tandem Drift by Sanam Sekhon and Mudit Grover! With Sanam leading the first go and Grover following. He showed a full deep drift with Grover not hooking it up fully and ending up with a shallow drift and lagging behind and exceeding track limits as well. When they switched, Grover was able to showcase his skills. Sanam was unable to join the inside second corner to the third outside, but kept it clean otherwise.
Thus, the first JK Tyre Drift Challenge drew to a close and with the turnout of participants it had for this inaugural edition, we can hope for more iterations to follow in the upcoming years.