Feature

Published on January 31st, 2013 | by Jos Roder

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Ask and you shall receive – A Romanian Drift Adventure

The Ender Esenyel Romanian Drift Experience

Ender Esenyel is a young passionate drifter from Melbourne, Australia and has had been a regular on the Victorian drift scene since he first became involved in the sport in 2008. Ender is a polite, down to earth driver who always seems to be smiling at the track and this attitude has won him many supporters in the local scene.

As Ender improved, competition was the next step to test his skills against others and improve his battling under pressure. It  all started with the Victorian Championship in 2009  and since that time he has been hooked on the competitive aspect of the sport. In 2011 Ender decided to sell his old S13 Silvia and upgraded to the beautiful car you see below. It is another S13, but has been extensively modified by the previous owner with a full widebody kit, weld in cage, tubs, suspension, and a modified SR20det engine with the usual supporting drift modifications.


Unfortunately, through 2011 and into 2012, Ender had a horror run of luck, with engine problems often ruining his events in the first practice session of the day. After some soul searching Ender decided to take the car off the road, have a break from the sport, recover the bank balance and replace the troublesome SR20 with Toyota power. It’s now a 2JZ, no shit!

While the car was off the road Ender started dreaming of drifting in Europe. Being a resourceful guy, he thought about how he could make it happen.  His first port of call was to contact some people online that had been involved in forming the Turk Drift Championship which was in its inaugural year. Ender lined up a drive in an event in the new championship and flew to Turkey with a big smile on his face at the prospect of fulfilling his dream. After arriving in Istanbul the smile soon faded to a frown when he found out that the event had been cancelled. (Editors Note:Ender believes the championship has now disbanded). Naturally, Ender was pretty devastated to have his entire plan taken from under his nose at the last minute.

It was a huge blow to his confidence, but to his credit, having already come so far on his odyssey,  he decided to have another attempt at securing a drive elsewhere in Europe, but had no direct plan. Ender randomly found an advertisement for a Romanian GTT drift event on the internet, joined a random Romanian drift Facebook page and asked a few questions. After being directed to Gabi and his wife Ana, who were the event Organisers, Ender’s run of bad luck was about to end. Gabi and Ana were incredibly helpful and did all they could to not only find Ender a car, but give him all the information he needed to enter and compete in the event.  Through the Organisers, Ender was introduced to a Octav, a local Romanian who offered Ender his vehicle to compete at the event.  Octav had done his research on Ender and his drifting exploits before offering him the car, to ensure he wasn’t some random kid who had just played a tonne of Need for Speed Shift! With everything now in place, Ender was soon searching for a flight to Romania!

I didn’t know alot about Romania so did some research to give you one useless bit of information. Nadia Comaneci is probably the most famous person from Romania. She was a gymnast in the 1970’s and also the first gymnast in history of the sport to obtain a perfect 10.00 at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. The scoring computer was not prepared for a perfect “10” score, so when it appeared on the primitive computer, the world saw “1.00” on the screen!  Being a judged sport like Drift, I thought it fitted in nicely.

The Romanian drift scene is relatively small but quite active. There was no real language barrier for Ender as most Romanians speak some level of English and if they don’t, one of their friends will! The most popular car used is not surprisingly anything European and RWD, so old BMW’s are a natural choice and have huge aftermarket support in Europe. There was even two 4WD Audi Quattro’s with massive power and anti lag systems entered in the event which was something you would never see at an Australian drift event!

Incredibly, the entry price to compete was the same price as it is for a spectator at many Australian drift tracks. Tyres were also very cheap with 17s going for about $50 a tyre. Parts for Japanese cars are not so common, but one guy who crashed his BMW had such a  collection of spares, he could have assembled an entire separate back up car from it all.

The event itself was to take place in the city of Iasi, which is nearly six hours from the capital Bucharest so Ender organised a  road trip, taking in the sights and the sounds of the country side.   The event schedule was a two day affair and Ender was instructed to turn up at the track early on the Saturday morning to help with the car preparations and make sure he attended the driver briefing. The layout was an open car park style circuit, setup not dissimiliar to Tokyo’s Odaiba D1 event. The crowd was extremely close to the action and could see the whole track.

The car itself was a SR20det powered 180sx running very minimal mods which included a roll cage, a locked diff, exhaust and a front mounted intercooler  The suspension was higher than a standard car for reasons unknown.


Above is a photos of Ender lining up for a qualifying pass, game face on. If you are reading this from Australia or Japan, you might notice something weird about this car. That’s right, the car was left hand drive(LHD). I was intrigued with how Ender picked up drifting with LHD, considering the gear shift and the handbrake are both on the opposite side. I asked Ender about adapting and he felt that it only took one session for him to start to feel comfortable and natural in his motions with the car and where everything was located.

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This is a video of Ender’s two qualifying passes. On his first pass, he pushes a little too deep trying to keep the low powered machines tyres spinning, but on the second pass he conserves a little more and puts in a great run considering the rather standard car specification.


Ender narrowly missed out on the top 16 so wasn’t able top take part in the battles but he still had time to do some demonstration passes and you can see here how wrapped he is that he is behind the wheel! The commentator gave Ender the nickname of “The Australian” and the crowd always gave a great cheer upon seeing an Aussie competing with the locals!


This shot above illustrates the cars  ability to clear obstacles at the very least! It was far from setup, however it still did the job and with Ender behind the wheel, he certainly pushed all he could out of the old girl.


Practice sessions usually always captured a Euro car in the frame with Ender.


However this is a rare shot showing one of the few other Japanese cars at the event having some tandem fun with “The Australian”!


Although Ender didn’t make the top 16, the Romanian drift Organisers still made him feel welcome, with a certificate and trophy for his efforts as well as a fun interview in broken english with the MC. The local drift community  showed a lot of appreciation to Ender for coming over and attending their event. Ender left the event, head high, with some great memories and most importantly some new friends and handy contacts! Two of the most important contacts were King of Europe (KOE) organisers Mike Procureur and Adrian Tescan who were impressed with Ender’s conduct on and off the track and are keen to help him again should he return to Europe. Mike and Adrian had actually told Ender that if he had informed them earlier of him coming over to compete , they could have organised the Wisesquare S15 (fitted with a 2JZ) that Hibino used at the last round of  the 2012 KOE series.

Ender thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and friendly people at the events in Europe and is totally hooked. Another trip to Europe is on the cards already and a step up to a King of Europe round is the goal. Ender wishes to thank all those who enabled him to take part in such a memorable experience.

What is the moral of this story?  If you don’t ask the question, you are never going to receive!

Feel free to check out Drift Romania’s website if you want more information!

Thanks to Ender Esenyel for his time and the photos in putting together this article.

 

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About the Author

Jos Roder

is the owner of Drift Life and wants to delve deeper into drifting culture. Jos started drifting more than 10 years ago after discovering a sport existed that captured his favourite motoring endeavour, going sideways! Jos works full-time in the automotive/motorsport field as a PR Manager and Advanced Driving Instructor and currently owns a JDM S15 Nissan Silvia for drift/track/hillclimb duties.



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