After a four year hiatus, our very own Prince of Drift, Tengku Djan Ley is back to kick some sideways swinging ass at the Drift Competition 2017 held at the Songkla Speedway in Hatyai, Thailand. The last time Djan was in action was during the heyday of Speedcity KL together with Saturday Night Drift Assault Practice being held every Saturday night. Tengku Djan was well known for killing tandem drift runs which eventually coined him the name Tandem Assassin.
According to Djan, the four year break from the drifting scene allowed him to focus his attention and energy to Circuit racing, which in itself is a totally different animal if compared to drifting. Djan spent more time developing race-cars for sprint and endurance racing. After awhile, the longer hours and more detailed work involved in Circuit racing proved to be too monotonous, but consequently geared him up in terms of setup and driving style for his return to the drifting arena.
Previously, he has competed in various Drift competitions such as Formula Drift and has traveled as far as the United States to bag his wins. For this race, Djan is racing for Maxxoil Malaysia, and despite a four-year break, managed to bag a win for Class A by beating local Thai racer Davide Dorigo aka DJ Dre.
Last week we were invited by the Prince himself to follow him on his roadtrip up north for his return to the ring. We left Subang at 11:30pm on Thursday night and drove through the night to reach the Malaysia-Thailand border by 9:00am the following day.
Once at the border, the drift car had to be unloaded and driven across as the Thai border control doesn’t allow cars to be trailered in. Halfway to the track the first sign of trouble arose with the support van suffering a bad puncture, with the team having to look high and low for a replacement tire.
Once back on the road, we managed to reach the Songkla Speedway by 1:30pm. The next set of problems was a conked out starter, which required the car to be push started for the next three days of the race.
The timetable for Friday was in complete haywire. The first race was postponed by a few hours due to track damage with Practice and Qualifying supposed to end by 4pm but everything finished at roughly 10pm. The race route was also revised due to track damage with the third corner made tighter, causing many of the drifters struggle to adapt to the new technicality of the circuit. Djan managed to attain the highest qualifying mark for the first Qualifying but lost to a Thai racer named N from PTT Oil for the second Qualifying.
Come raceday on Saturday, the race was delayed for another two hours due to track damage (again). Class B was supposed to complete their best of 32 on Friday but was overrun to Saturday. By midday, the circuit was hit with heavy rain and harsh winds which blew off some of the Thai racing team’s tents. Djan’s team was having a crazy time trying to hold down their race tent. Once the erratic tropical weather subsided, Class A was able to commence at 7pm and was completed by 10pm. For the final round, Djan was head to head with Thai racer DJ Dre and with both racers in dead heat, an additional round was required to determine the rightful winner. Djan emerged as champion for Class A, beating his Thai counterpart. Class O began at 12pm with prize giving and all ending at 1:30am. Quite a hectic night!
When asked what were the highlights of the race, Djan’s reply was how comfortable he was at doing the tandem after being out of action for the longest time! His initial thoughts were that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off after spending the past few years doing taxi rides and solo demos for Lotus Malaysia. But after a few practice laps, Djan was back at home and confident enough to pull off the tandem and regain the title
Djan’s feedback on the car was very positive. Technically, it was the same car that competed in the Formula Drift competition back in 2013 but with an updated transmission and differential. The team spent two weekend setting up and prepping the car and according to Djan himself, his method in prepping the car was totally different from four years back. The break and change in discipline did help in the approach in setting up a proper drift car. Djan is very happy with the car and this competition has allowed the team to identify areas for further improvement and enhancement. Come King of Nations in July, Djan and the team will have a stronger and faster car to compete with.
Djan and the team have bigger plans after this, they plan to compete in D1GP in China and also Formula Drift USA. But this also boils down to whether they can secure potential sponsorship and attain the right level of support. According to Djan, at this level, you have to be equipped with both the right tools and support or it’s not worth doing at all. The team has been competing around the world since 2006 and for 2017, they look forward to focusing their efforts to more Drift competitions in Thailand, and what’s equally exciting is the roadtrip to Buriram for the next Drift Competition. Competing has its fair share of stress and heartbreaks but it’s always essential to have fun and by being on the road, the team will find ways to destress.
After all the racing and drifting excitement came to an end, it was time to head back to Malaysia, Malaysian food in particular! We stopped by Penang for some rewarding comfort food before reaching home at 2am the following day. It was definitely an exciting and harrowing experience for us to follow a seasoned professional drifter and his team to another country to compete with other drifters of various caliber. We look forward to seeing our Prince of Drift back in action in other Drift events around the world.