Leaving wingworks we arrived in Fukushima after dinner with enough time to recharge the batteries and dump photos to the harddrive before getting a good night's sleep ready for a private shoot and drift experience. As the title suggest it wasn't with any regular drift car but a Ferrari 360 Modena!
I had been planning this day for nearly 6 months now with all my plans being hindered by the rain. Luckily fate was on my side this time giving us our first sunny day in 9 days!!!
Beyond excited we made our way to Ebisu drift circuit eagerly awaiting the arrival of Hirokazu.
I knew what I was there for but it wasn't until Suzuki-san arrived with a yellow rusty wrapped, Liberty Walk widebodied Ferrari that I really felt a rush of achievement and disbelief. Four years of friendship and six months of planning came down to this! My own private shoot and drift experience in Japan's Ferrari drift car!
We made our way in and straight to Minami (the jump track) where he began the tedious process of getting the car off the truck!
Just when I thought it looked good Suzuki-san hit the right buttons airing her out! Jaw dropped I could not wipe the smile off my face!
Getting her on track for a few photos I was still in disbelief at what I had achieved. It takes a lot for me to ask you to bring your car out in fear of rejection especially in my previous bad state of mind. So to know I contacted Hirokazu Suzuki and asked if we could do a shoot of it and to now be standing there doing exactly that was extremely satisfying!!! A very proud moment indeed!
I could see Suzuki-san waiting eagerly to drive it, soon asking if I wanted drift photos. Ok I can finish my shoot later, TIME TO DRIFT A FERRARI!!!
Getting in my first position I didn't think the 3rd photo I took would be the best photo of the day (in my opinion). I loved the angle of the car along with a hint of smoke and the spray of water! Could life be any better right now!
Ah yes it sure could! After a few warm up laps it was time for me to go passenger!!! *** SQUEAKS***
What an experience! I've been passenger in probably over 100 different set up drift cars in the last few years. And this was most definitely the most unique car I had been in! It felt quite easy to initiate the drift though it appeared to take some work and throttle control to hold and continue the drift. Especially with the motor being in the rear and of course being quite a heavy car.
I could not get over the sound though! To hear the 3.6L V8 Ferrari motor at full revs, well probably not even full revs, I'm sure it had more to give but to hear the v8 open up and echo through the valley was unbelievable!
Sadly though we were about to take on our 5th lap when something felt extremely bizarre in the rear and not good at all. Quickly Stopping to assess we soon realised it was quite bad! The rear wheel was somewhat bent and tucked up under the guard. Very close to some serious destruction!
Initially thinking it was a control arm it became evident that it was a toe arm which snapped the drive shaft, putting an end to drifting real quick!
My heart sunk, I felt so bad that he had brought his car out for us and that it had broken. And as you could imagine Ferrari parts would not be cheap!
Hirokazu-san assured us it was in fact good that it broke there that day as his workshop is very close by and it can be fixed. He was also using the day to practice and test a few things before driving 14hours the very next day down to Okayama for Formula Drift demonstrations on his own without a crew or spare parts.
After a quick phone call to his team we decided to head up to visit Powervehicles and say hi to Andy and Emily while we waited for help to arrive!
It felt like mere minutes had passed when we got the call that help had arrived, so it was time to head back down to Minami and see if it could be fixed, which it couldn't without getting up on the hoist.
Now good enough to get it on the truck it was time to call it a day and take the Ferrari back to the workshop where we had agreed on helping to get it done in time for his demonstration. Except Suzuki-san had other plans. He had a team of men who would work through the night to have the car ready, he wanted to take us to lunch to apologise for the breakage. Which he most definitely did not need to, but being well aware of Japanese culture we knew it was considered quite rude to not accept a drink or a meal if it is offered or bought for you.
So off to lunch we went where many laughs were had :)