Start your engines! The Achilles Formula Drift series is coming to Melbourne... and we speak to Aussie champ Josh Boettcher about how he fancies his chances
Catch The Fast and the Furious IRL when 22 of the world’s finest drift racers assemble at Calder Park Thunderdome to battle in out in the first of three legs in the Achilles Asian Drift Series 2013. Keep your eyes peeled for Australia’s very own Josh Boettcher alongside other international drift stars including Daigo Saito, Ken Gushi, Robbie Nishida, Frederick Asabo and Tengku Djan.
Josh, when did you realise drifting could be more than just a hobby?
My first drifting experience was in 2004. I found out about a drift practice day that was on at the local track and took my FC RX7 there to give it a go. I was hooked straight away, and went back as often as I could. It wouldn’t have been until 2009 that I started taking it more seriously. I realised it could become more for me than a hobby when I was driving for Tokage Racing Team in their Toyota Soarer and battling it out with the 2008 Australian Champion throughout the season.
What do you think separates your average driver from a regular podium position holder?
Obviously skill is a major factor, but majorly committing to every run you do is very important, particularly towards the pointy end. You really need to step up how hard you push every time you get to the next round if you want to end up on the podium.
Proudest moment on the track so far?
Chasing down Daigo Saito in FD Indonesia 2011 in a borrowed Nissan Cefiro was a pretty proud moment, but taking fifth place last year in the last round of the FD Asia series was great against such big names in the sport. This year I’m really gunning for a podium!
Who are some of your personal racing heroes?
Ayrton Senna is probably my biggest hero, he was a pure racer and amazing to watch. But there are heaps of guys I look up to in all forms of motorsport.
Do you think the home advantage will affect your performance?
I think it will to a degree, being at home with my full team around me will be great. But the track will be a different layout to what anyone else has driven before, so that side of things will be even. I’m sure the local support will push me to give it everything for our awesome country.
Who do you consider to be the toughest competitor at Formula Drift?
It’s hard to go past Mr Daigo Saito, he’s a great driver and has built an incredibly fast car, so he’s the one to beat. But I’m sure Fredric Aasbo in his new 86 will be just as tough.
When you’re not drifting around the track, what are you driving?
I drive a Mazda BT50, nothing too exciting, but it does a great job of towing my drift cars around.
Have you ever had a life-threatening crash?
Not on the track. On the road when I was 19 I had someone pull in front of me. I was able to miss them, which meant I couldn’t miss a cement drain, I had a broken nose and cheekbone. I thought it might make me think twice about motorsport, but not at all, once I was able, I was back to doing what I loved!
What is your favourite city to race in and why?
Singapore is always an exciting place to race, the city is always pumping and we’ve had some great fun there in the past. Also my first FD Asia event was in Singapore.
Favourite driving music?
Taylor Swift. Ha!
How can upcoming Aussies get started in drifting? Hooning around the Coles carpark?
Anything on the street or in a carpark is never a good idea. There are a lot of drift days in my local area in South East Queensland to get started. If you’ve got a car ready to drift, head to the track, if not, there are a few drift schools popping up now that let you learn the basics in a drift car to see if it’s for you. These are the only way to really hone your skills. I started drifting on the track and haven’t really felt the need to drift on the street, it’s just not safe for anyone involved.