Originally pioneered in Japan, the discipline has since spread rapidly. In addition to a thriving scene in its spiritual homeland, there are national, continental and global championships that bring together the best drift competitors from around the world. Now, these leading talents will have the chance to represent their homeland as part of the FIA Motorsport Games.
Drifting is certainly not traditional racing. Competitors are judged on a range of criteria, such as the line they take through each corner and their driving style. The event will be staged under the lights on Friday and Saturday evenings, utilising part of Vallelunga Circuit’s main straight and the complex between turns 10 and 14. In terms of competitors, several have recently been confirmed by their respective National Sporting Authority (ASN).
Team Switzerland will be represented by one of Europe's brightest talents, Yves Meyer, who last year finished as runner-up in the prestigious FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup. The 28-year-old is also a leading contender in the Drift Kings International Europe Series and Oman International Drift Series. Meyer will go for gold at the wheel of a Swiss-liveried BMW.
Team France will also call upon a leading drift exponent to defend its colours in Rome. Indeed, Benjamin Boulbès is the clear reference in French drift competition, having claimed five domestic titles over the course of his career. Boulbès has also extended his interests beyond his homeland to compete in events across Europe, including the Drift Masters European Championship.
Dennis Hansen will represent Team Denmark, piloting a Nissan Silvia S15 fitted with a Toyota Supra engine. A former motocross rider, Hansen comes with experience from the Drift Masters European Championship and the domestic Nordic Drift Series.
Drifting has found particular popularity in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, with Latvia proving no exception to this. The nation will entrust its hopes at the FIA Motorsport Games to Edmunds Berzins, who will drive a BMW prepared by UE Motosports. Berzins will draw upon his recent experience in the leading NEZ Pro Drift Championship, as well as a domestic career that includes winning the 2018 Latvian Drifting Cup in the Semi-Pro class.
Russia is a world leader in drifting, with several of its top performers ranking among the best in the business. The nation's representative at the FIA Motorsport Games will be Ilia Fedorov, a four-time winner of the Russian Drift Series and was a top-10 finisher at last year's FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup. The 33-year-old will tackle the event aboard a Nissan Silvia S14.
Neighbouring Georgia will field Mevlud Meladze, who comes to the FIA Motorsport Games with a unique background. Meladze first found fame as a champion fighter competing in the Soviet martial art Sambo, winning gold at the 1991 European Cup. Since retiring from the sport he has switched his attention to the circuit, first as a racer and more recently in drift competitions. He is also a road safety campaigner and among the leading figures in Georgian motorsport.
The Czech Republic will be represented by Michal Reichert. The 31-year-old is known domestically for competing in the Czech Drift Series, while his international exploits have seen Reichert tackle the Drift Masters European Championship with promising results. The Czech contender will drive a BMW M3 E92 at the 1-3 November event.
Finally, Team Portugal has announced that it will field Diogo Manuel Dias Correia at the FIA Motorsport Games. The 23-year-old is the current Portuguese Drift Championship title holder and leads the standings once again this season. Like several of his rivals, he will pilot a BMW M3 E92 as he looks to add the Drifting Cup gold medal to his resume.
At the FIA Motorsport Games, each Drifting Cup contender will complete two solo runs, with the higher-scoring run counting towards a final qualifying classification. The top-16 competitors will proceed to the Final Battle stage.
Here, the event will become a head-to-head contest. Drivers will be seeded according to their qualifying results, with the best-scoring qualifier going up against the 16th-placed competitor, second facing 15th, and so forth. There will be two runs, with the higher qualifier leading the first and positions reversed for the second.
In qualifying, judges will score competitors using four criteria – line, angle, style and speed – up to a maximum total of 100 points. In the Final Battle phase, each judge will score the round individually with a majority decision between a three-person panel determining the winner.
The Drifting Cup will be one of six categories featured at the FIA Motorsport Games, joining the GT Cup, Formula 4 Cup, Touring Car Cup, Karting Slalom Cup and Digital Cup.Competitors from across the globe will chase a spot on the podium, with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to the top-three finishers in each event. These results will produce an overall medal table, with the top National Sporting Authority (ASN) awarded the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games trophy during the closing ceremony in Rome.