Published on November 30th, 2017 | by Jos Roder0
JDM Reverse Engineering With Jake Kats
Victorian drifter Jake Kats has recently undertaken what we believe to be an Australian first. Along with fellow Aussie Casey Dhnaram(from Shirtsuckedin fame) and his S13, Jake sent an ex-pat back home, so his drift prepped 180sx could re-acquaint itself with steamed rice, sumo and a little sideways action at Super D Cup and G1GP.
Jake is what some would describe a drift purist. He loves the traditional Japanese drift style – driving technique, track designs and car styling. This Japanese influence makes sense when you learn that Jake’s first and nearly all of his subsequent drifting experience has been on Japanese soil, either at Ebisu, or other Japanese tracks, all in a low powered SR20 S13.
I was somewhat surprised when Jake informed me he that he’d only been drifting for two years. A motocross background certainly gave him a leg up, but it seems the intensive ‘sink or swim’ reality that comes with practicing in Japan has resulted in a rather intensive learning curve. Jake’s style really impressed us here in the Drift Life bunker and we have included some on-board footage further below so you can see for yourselves.
Loving his Japanese drift adventures, but still yearning for more drift, Jake slowly began building a local Australian 180sx to compete in the VicDrift State Championship.
Sticking to his love of the traditional and now increasingly ‘rare’ SR20, the 180sx is a relatively mild build in today’s drift landscape.
Fitted with Tomei Pon cams, a mid-mounted HKS GTRS turbo, Speedtek exhaust manifold, straight through exhaust, knuckles, cage and a striking Origin Labo bodykit offset by a striking Japanese inspired sticker and graphic pack, the car was a unique machine that quickly started churning around social media.
Dipping his toes into the VicDrift series, Jake quickly became a little disillusioned with the local drift scene. Most of the competitors were running huge power and big lock setups and the layouts were quite foreign to him compared to Japan – all which culminated in a yearning to be back driving in Japan. While chatting online with OG Aussie drifter Christian Pickering, Jake was introduced to Japanese based Shane Bingham from Stacked Inc. An off the cuff suggestion by Shane that Jake should send his car over to the Super D Cup event at Meihan was all it took. A seed had been planted.
I racked my own brain, made a few enquiries with a couple of other OG’s from the Aussie drift scene, but I couldn’t come up with anyone that had ever shipped their car back to Japan before Jake and Casey. I quickly gathered Jake (and Casey for that matter) is a ‘doer’ and I certainly respect that ‘get out there and have a crack’ type of attitude.
For Jake, the shipping exercise was not only humane for this poor deprived car that was stolen from its homeland many moons ago, but liberating for his wallet as well, with around $3,000AUD required to ship the car over. After the usual customs, quarantine checks were passed Jake’s 180sx was ready for its first event in a foreign….ahh well actually, its first local event (I’m confused) at Meihan Sportsland, located in Nara, about an hour from Osaka.
Super D Cup
“”Dedicated Japanese drifters have achieved the perfect balance between form and function that much of the rest of the world still struggles for. Super D is here to bridge that gap. Our goal is to establish a foundation where drivers can push themselves and their machines to the level of some of the most skilled and dedicated drivers in the world, while honoring the traditions and ideals of those who created the sport, or art, around which our lives revolve.”
Worldwide drift superstar Naoki Nakamura is the star Super D Cup competitor and the series has quickly built a solid following across the world.
Events Don’t Normally Go To Plan
And the Super D Cup at Meihan proved to be no different for both Jake and Casey, with both drivers having very different examples of bad luck leaving them both out of the competition early on.
For Casey, a crash in practice re-arranged the front end of his Silvia when the car stepped out more than expected – a sad way to bring about the end of his Super D Cup experience before it had really started.
In Jake’s case, a mis-timed trip to the store for some drinks was all it took for him to be absent for his qualifying session. Whoops! Jake was also out of the competition with no chance to prove himself in his class.
Jake showing his style and ability to snap the car well with solid technique.
It was a memorable event – he met new friends and had new motivation to continue to improve his own driving.
Redemption at G1GP
With the Super D Cup behind him, it was time to head to Ebisu a week later for the Autumn Matsuri Drift Heaven Week and with Jake sitting in third position, a chance to win the foreigner only G1GP Championship.
After freshening up his Ebisu based practice S13 with a service, some aero from Origin-Labo by Corporal Industries and some business promotion Jake was ready to thrown down at the West (Nishi) course in the reverse direction, with drivers initiating over the hill and down toward the spectators.
Here is a practice lap showing the layout and Jake pushing hard.
Jake was up against the series leader Kevin Flynn from Australia, plus a host of other solid drivers,
After a dramatic day of drifting for the Top 16 had concluded, it was professional drifter and racer Charles Ng from Hong Kong who proved his credentials by winning the event, but to his credit Jake ended up with an impressive second place.
Backing up a second place in the final round, Jake also achieved third place in the Championship. Charles Ng second and Kevin Flynn (another Aussie) took out his first G1GP Championship.
After the obligatory post event partying and a few days in Tokyo, Jake returned to Australia with new direction and a stronger passion for drift than ever.
He has since started building his dream car. An AE86….which makes sense given his philosophy around drift and I look forward to watching him learn what will be no doubt a snappier and ultimately more rewarding chassis to drift in.