With a suitable car and a wide open space, you too can learn the highly rewarding art of drifting
Matt Prior
28 August 2016

Drifting a Nissan GT-R isn't an easy thing to do, so here are some tips on how to do just that. 

Go and drive the world’s fastest drift car and write a story around the headline ‘How to Drift’, they said.

I thought there might be a problem with that. Drifting a road car is one thing, but drifting a 1390bhp Nissan GT-R capable of going sideways at 190mph, which it recently did to set a new world record, is something else entirely.

Only – not for the first time – I was wrong. The GT-R you see smoking its tyres here is one of the easiest cars in which I’ve ever tried drifting. Perhaps that should be no surprise, but it was to me. Turns out a car that can drift at 190mph requires the same set of attributes as a car you want to drift at 50mph. Who knew?

How to drift, then. Read on…

1. Choose your location

A large, empty space with the landowner’s permission is ideal. Obviously, we don’t condone going anywhere without the landowner’s permission, but it’s the sort of thing that suits an empty car park more than an empty roundabout.

Nissan opted for Fujairah International Airport in the UAE. Quite wide. Long enough to reach 190mph. They said ‘yes’. Ideal, then.

2. Choose your car

You’ll want it to be rear-wheel drive, relatively powerful and have a limited-slip differential and decent body control.

The longer the wheelbase, the longer things take to happen, and a front-engined car is usually easier to control than one with the engine farther back. A decent amount of steering lock is a bonus, too.

This GT-R, commissioned for Nissan by Driftworks and built by GReddy in Japan, is all of those things. The race 370Z is too, but it is harder to drift than the specially prepared GT-R.

3. Give it the 'send'

Car and corner all sorted? Driving towards it? Good. Here’s the crucial bit. Now you need to turn in and unsettle the back end to start sliding.

There are several ways to do this. Drifters usually use a hydraulic handbrake (at 190mph it scrubs too much speed), some cars have enough power to do it by throttle alone, or you may need lots of throttle and to unsettle the rear of the car (as the Nissan did).

A lift of throttle and a large bung of steering can do that, maybe even trailing the brakes slightly too. Either way, as soon as the back is unsettled you’ll want to apply power, and lots of it, in a gear that leaves you near the top of the rev range, to spin the tyres.

If none of that works, you can pop the clutch in, rev up the engine, then drop the clutch to unstick the rear tyres.

4. Apply dab

Congratulations, the car is now going sideways.

Now, maybe here’s the crucial bit. Look where you want to go, not where the car is pointing. Now you’ll want a dab of oppo, or more likely, quite a lot of opposite lock, and you’ll want it quickly.

The quickest way is to let go of the steering wheel and allow the steering lock to wind itself on, because the inertia in the front wheels makes them want to carry on in the direction they were going: scribing a conventional line around the corner. However, not everyone gets on with doing that, so wind it on, sharpish.

Meantime, do not back off the power.

5. Hold it

No, here’s the crucial bit.

Too much power and you’ll spin. Not enough power and the rear tyres will regain grip, and a weight transfer plus the opposite lock you’ve applied will try to pitch the car into an even worse spin, in the other direction.

Between the two is a happy medium where the rear tyres are spinning, you’re playing that off against steering angle and everything in the world is utterly perfect.

The record-breaking GT-R has masses of steering lock and seemingly limitless power, which helps a great deal.

6. Drexit

Okay, maybe this is the important bit. If there’s a transition, from a slide in one direction to one in the other, then backing out of the throttle will unsettle the rear of the car and pitch it the way you want to go (back to point 3), and you carry on from there.

The modified GT-R has a wide rear track to minimise weight transfer and make that a gradual, not sharp, process. If you want to exit the slide to a straight line, look where you want to go and steer the car towards it.

You may have to ease the power back briefly and slightly – don’t shut it off – so the yaw angle reduces and you make your desired trajectory. Keep the rear tyres spinning for now. Wind off your lock while the car straightens, while staying on the power, so that as the car picks up speed driving forwards, the rear wheels come down to match the road speed gradually.

Our Verdict

Nissan GT-R

The Nissan GT-R is not a cheap car, but it’s better value for money than cars that are seemingly as fast

Join the debate

Comments
2

28 August 2016
Rather silly isn't it?

28 August 2016
Late 80's before cctv, Ford Capri, wet supermarket car park, 02:00, wally 18yr old = drift old school. Think we've all been there lol

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