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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Shaman King: Team CVP Drift (Photos: Shay Naick / Words: Imraan Gallo)

There are probably not many people who would recognise the first 3 words of the title so I'll give you a small history lesson. Back in 1998, an anime series called "Shaman King" was brought to life, and since I'm a huge fan of anime I found this fitting to personify and to equate to 2 platforms as both involve battling it out. Anyway, In this anime there are 2 powerful  Demons called Zenki and Kouki, so you can see why I sought this to be fitting. Now I know many Nissan enthusiasts might relate to these names and I think the comparison and reason for me using it would be deemed acceptable, even though both cars are from RPS13/SX heritage.

Daniel Blaser #23. Better known as Danger Dan. I suppose it's fair to called this drift demon Zenki as it was the pre-requisite to the team. Basically all the bells and whistles for a drift car attached to this, with a decent 2JZ power plant. Quite the transition made for Dan coming from a Rally background racing under his own garage name DMB Motorsport. Back when it was all still fun and games, Dan was part of a local group called Grassroots Drifters Cape Town. I'm not entirely sure if the group is still active or if they're just laying low but not much has been seen of the group since late 2015.

It's fair to say that the #33 car, belonging to Chris Long, would be the Kouki version in this tale. Some basic background about Chris is that his racing heritage hails from circuit racing, or at least that's what I've gathered since I have seen him racing around the local circuit in his single seater. I can imagine that the change over from circuit to drift was a challenge as they are somewhat opposing. General rule of circuit is maximum grip to achieve the fastest time around a closed loop. With drifting the breaking of traction has to be forced through initiation. So yes, you can pretty much imagine all the practice and farming that went into his drifting career.

In 2015, A fairly new company to the drifting game approached Dan with the proposal of a sponsorship. The company in question, CVP (Custom Vehicle Protection). The full details of this initial sponsorship cannot be disclosed to the public but we all know that any form of motorsport is expensive if you're privately funded, so a little help is needed and definitely appreciated. In some way this relation between the 2 parties was a way for CVP to get some on-track advertising and for a business, marketing is a key factor.

I've pretty much know Dan since around early 2013. He has supported the HoodRide label and through the drifting and photography combination, a good friendship was established. Since street drifting is done by only a handful and names not mentioned due to its illegal nature, I was always or at least most of the time present at practice sessions held on track . The benefit of this is that you get to witness drivers improve on their skills to the point where after a full season of drifting, said driver is crowned the Champ.

That's right, 2015 saw Danger Dan become the 1st regional drifting champion from a full season held in the western cape. Much debate can be done about whether or not Dan would've been crowned if nemesis Shane Green had competed in all the rounds and even down to the last battle between Dan and Shane, Shane won the battle with Dan claiming the spoils of war. Throughout the season a sort of rivalry developed between these 2 drivers and it was always fun to watch them battle it out head-to-head referred to as "Tsuiso" in Japan.

Towards the end of the season, I remember going with Dan and Matthew (CVP) to pick up his emergency motor. It was the final round with Dan leading the field with points so whether or not a new motor could be acquired was a long shot. At the end, it came down to some self sacrifice and pulling of strings to make sure that he had a motor to compete. By the time that happened it was wrench time with only a week or so to get the motor in and tuned ready for the finals.

The birth of Team CVP was an idea conjured up by Matthew. What better way to advertise than to have 2 cars on track while still being a major sponsor for the event itself. From a business point of view, I don't think you need to know anything about drifting but you need to have a knack to see a good deal  when its presented. So that's pretty much where the Shaman King part comes in. Matthew being the Shaman in control of 2 horse powerful Demons Zenki and Kouki, piloted by their respective drivers.

The demons, as described by the author of this anime, pretty much have the same build and look with some similarities and variants, that is pretty much the case with these 2 cars also. Different power plants, each driver having his own preferred setup and also different skill set. I have yet to ask them how they feel about going up against each other in competition. Since competitive drifting is a judged sport, I guess that battle could be won/lost on a technicality such as line or proximity.

A little info about these cars and there details are mainly differed with engine and driver. Dan having previously gone through a few Nissan RB25 motors has switched over to the dark side by dropping in the oh so infamous Toyota 2JZ while Chris who previously ran that funky colour schemed E36 is now going sideways with a 1JZ powered RPS13 (200SX). The body kit for these cars acquired from AeroLabs in conjunction with <<Wide By Matt>>. Since their introduction to the drift world, CVP has used their spray-on polymer rubber technology better known as LiquidWrap on the drift cars of some national competitors also, and boosting the advertising outside of Cape Town is never a bad thing.

While the team is still relatively new with only just over a year in existence. It's still far from having fancy rigs to transport the cars around but I think that if the team is consistent with either driver always making the cut it's not too long before such comforts are seen. I don't know if getting crowned champ came with a trailer but I know that Dan used to drive his car to the track, compete and drive home. That was the one cool thing about GRD (Grassroots Drifters), having a street legal drift car worthy of competing. It's not every day a street car does what Dan did in his.

While the 2016 season only produced a 2nd and 4th place for the team, with Dan fighting hard to defend his title, he had to settle for 2nd best. Personally I feel that the 2 drivers along with CVP, the team do have a good recipe for competition. I'd love to see them compete on a national level and I'm looking forward to the day that happens. As a Cape Town local, it's important that we, as media, support our local drivers as well and are proud to be associated with them. Competitive drifting as I see it is very much a spectator sport and I believe that we should go out and support these events as it's a little more exciting for the average spectator as opposed to circuit racing for the sole reason that the entire run and battle can be seen from anywhere in the stands. 

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