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The new season of the Russian Drift Series, which has started off with a round at ADM Raceway on May 7, may become one of the most interesting in history, due to the nymber of reasons.


Being one of the youngest disciplines in Russian motorsport, drift quickly gains popularity among both spectators and participants. The number of entrants to the series continues to grow: new faces come into play, while drivers from other regions and neighbor countries visit the events on a regular basis. Starting from this year the series got a new sponsor in the face of Black Monster Energy brand. A number of well-known drivers from past RDS seasons announced their comeback. Some new cars are expected to hit tre tracks in coming months. But arguably the biggest news of the silly season was the creation of a Drift Committee in the Russian Automobile Federation structure, governed by Alexander Smolyar. It means that drifting has finally established itself as an official motorsport discipline in Russia.


ADM Raceway in Miachkovo near Moscow opened the season more than once in the past years, but it is indeed a rare case when this round is held on dry surface. This time the weather was great and spectators saw the real drift in thick clouds of smoke.


Friday qualifying has already shown that last year’s leaders will have to work hard to remain on top of the podium. The defending (and so far the only double) RDS champion Evgeny Ruzheynikov of Toyo Tires Gorilla Energy Techno Cartel team, to everyone’s surprise, could not pass the qualifying. The reason was a broken clutch on his Nissan Silvia S15. To fight for a third title he will have to show all he’s got at the next rounds. As of now, during the Saturday’s tandem passes the spectators could enjoy his presence on a judging tower as a co-host. Looking at the feedback, the audience was more than satisfied.

Ruzheynikov’s teammate, Pavel Busygin on Toyota Supra, who suffered from similar technical issues, could literally snatch the Top-24. Out in quali were the permanent participants: Arkady Puchinin, Arter Melkumian, Kirill Zeylikman. The St.-Petersberg’s Maxim Tvardovsky, returning to RDS after a long absence, also could not get into the main event table, ending up 27th. The triumphant on Friday was Yaroslav Gavrikov of Valvoline Drift Team, who found a great pace late last year. In top three by the end of day he was accompanied by 2013 Ukrainian Champion Alexey Golovnya and 2014 RDS Champion Adnrey Pesegov.

Right away, in the first pass on Saturday, Yaroslav Gavrikov knocked out Nikita Shikov, who drove a spare car due to his Toyota GT86 Rocket Bull being not ready to start yet, and sent him to battle with the bottom of quali sheet. A bit later Yaroslav won from Pesegov’s teammate from Tuning Factory / Goodride / Aimol, Alexey Bobrovskih (who performed very well otherwise). Gavrikov’s white Supra was only stopped in 6th leg by Fedor Dzezhits on Toyota Mark II - all day Fedor showed a very stong a technical performance and became the real ‘man of the day’.


An important event for Russian drift fans was the comeback of St.-Petersberg based Evil Empire team. Its drivers in Miachkovo were spouses Ekaterina and Maxim Sedykh from Vladivostok. The only female driver in RDS West, Ekaterina managed to get into leg 7 and took P8 in final classification, whereas Maxim, current leader in RDS East, was less successful in Moscow round: in his first run he lost to Evgeny Grigoriev after his bonnet opened right on track, and ended up only 19th.


The return of 2011 RDS Champion, Felix Chitipakhovian, was kind of unfortunate. Coming back as a part of rapidly proceeding Valvoline Drift Team, Felix ended the day on P15, having made a couple of off-track excursions with his BMW E36. Fedor Vorobiev, who also made a comeback at the wheel of a Lada 2105 with 350hp Toyota 2JZ engine, could only end up in 14th.


As it often happens, a number of technical issues appeared on both rookies’ and favourites’ cars. One of last year’s discoveries, Pavel Busygin, did not succeed in fixing his Toyota Supra’s clutch before Saturday, and after the first attempt went to follow the further action from the grandstands. The bright yellow ‘banana’ of William Gukasian, the W204 Mercedew-Benz with a Japanese Toyota 2JZ heart, hit the Lada of Fedor Vorobiev in one of the passes, when the latter spun. Some time later both cars were back on track, but the injuries affected handling, and neither William, nor Fedor could reach the late stages.


One of Russia’s most experienced drifters, 2015 title contender Andrey Bogdanov, reached the finals with no single defeat, knocking out his rivals one by one: the series rookie Ivan Nikulin, Ukrainian Champion Alexey Golovnia and Igor Belenkiy, whose white BMW E46 ended up on unusually high, but well deserved 4th place.


A great driving came also from Evgeny Satyukov, who only lost once to Fedor Dzezhits. However, right before the finals, in 11th leg, Satyukov and Dzezhits met on track once again, and Evgeny rehabilitated himself completely, showing one of the best passes of the day, while Fedor, making a sad mistake in a last sector, eliminated himself from the battle for victory.


As a result, in the finals spectators witnessed a great fight of two BMW E36’s of Evgeny Satyukov and Andrey Bogdanov. Traditionally in a complete silence, with no music and commentary, Bogdanov won the event, having driven through the final with only third gear. Evgeny Satyukov was second with third place coming to Fedor Dzezhits, who got his first career podium.


The second round of the Russian Drift Series will take place on Atron International Circuit in Ryazan on May 27-28. Quite possibly, we will see some of the new cars there, while the main attraction of the event will be the announced participation of one of Russia’s best drifters - Georgy ‘Gocha’ Chivchian.


2016 RDS Round 1 Results