We chat to the lads of Team B-Style about what sets ’em apart from other ordinary drift teams
Words and photos: Ashleigh Monaghan
Oh man, remember last summer? That constant, low-humming hype of an upcoming drift event, late nights in the garage, and more often than not, empty pockets after a glorious day on track. Feels like yesterday, but a lifetime ago — yet another byproduct of Covid-19. For motorsport content creators, it’s much the same really. We spend the hours leading up to every event preparing our gear, we stand alongside the teams, supporting and capturing every move from a trackside event.
On one particular outing last January, during a morning dawdle with friends down the pits during D*Club’s Animal Style GP, I stumbled across what looked like a sea of orange and red Nissan Silvias, unloading off a transporter and onto the warm bitumen. Tyres tossed off soon after, followed by the gazebo and a flurry of laughter. “Who’re the jokers?” I asked my mate. “South Islanders,” he responded, “can’t you tell?”
During the afternoon heat of team battles, the comedians from the South Island careened towards me in a trio of switch entry madness, stealing the show as I sat infield on the circuit’s hairpin. I captured probably one of my favourite photos of the weekend and swore to myself that I would one day feature them in this magazine. Lo and behold, here we are.
Hailing from the deepest, filthiest depths of the South Canterbury and Otago regions, Daniel, Johnny, and Sean first hit the limiter together at an annual Southern Stance Drift Matsuri event a couple of years ago. Although they had tandemed together often in pairs, their first ‘real’ taste of driving as a team was, surprisingly, at that very D*Club event that I was photographing. Baffled at their seemingly fearless charge on track, I had to ask: were they ever intimidated by each other at all? Johnny answers with, “I’d definitely say yes, however, I trust Sean and Daniel and that helps a lot when it comes to driving together or running multi-car tandems.” Sean also added his two cents. “As people, nah, Daniel and Johnny aren’t intimidating. But if you’re a driver that hasn’t had many laps on the track, tandeming with someone on your door that has been drifting for years can be pretty full on, but it’s definitely something you get used to over time.”
Is there anything more wholesome than a street-styled Silvia that has undergone a tasty, track-worthy transformation? “It all started when Joel and Adam at C’s Garage convinced me to upgrade to their signature 555-knuckle set-up, with Part Shop Max suspension and arms, not too long after I had purchased the car.” After an arm twist and subsequent parts delivery, Johnny moved his street car to the track, eventually blowing his factory SR20DET and rebuilding the motor, advancing with Tomei 256-degree PonCams and a Turbonetics T60 turbo, fixed to a Speedtek exhaust manifold. A few extra staples, including a cooling upgrade courtesy of Fenix Radiators and a Link G4 Storm, resulted in a reliable power output, finishing at 343kW (460hp) at 20psi. Slapped together with love by the team at Cany Customs, Johnny’s S14 features pretty much the entire Origin Labo aero catalogue and now sits on a staggered set of Work VS-XX wheels.
At this point, it’s fairly obvious that Johnny’s Silvia very much embodies the bread and butter of a typical track car, giving him more than enough power to party, without the need to kiss his rear tyres goodbye after a single lap. It only makes sense that his sole focus now is to drive the car. “I want as much seat time as possible. I’m pretty keen to just have fun with everyone, hopefully make a few trips to the North Island and take part in more events like D*Club or Taupo Matsuri. As for competing, I enter in the Drift South series as much as I can, but if D1NZ held another indoor event or custom track, I’d love to have a nudge at Pro Sport.”
When questioned about each other’s driving style, all three settled on the term ‘aggressive’, alongside a couple of awkward nods to Daniel’s slightly more carefree approach. “Daniel’s driving style is about as aggressive as it gets; he genuinely doesn’t care if he wrecks his car, our cars, or himself on the track,” Sean joked, with Johnny agreeing too. Keeping his bullying as consistent as he can, I wasn’t too surprised with Daniel’s reply, “Well, Sean is always too busy making sure his hair looks good under his helmet!”
Speaking of good looks — and no, I’m not talking about the lads — it’s not hard to see why fans become mesmerized and drawn to their cars on pit lane. Genuine and drool-worthy wheels, Origin Labo kits and liveries designed by Ash at Hero Prints, Team B-Style are both an expression and acknowledgement of the Japanese racing spirit. When the cars start, they sing, tuned to a T by Reuben and Chris at Rapid Performance in Timaru.
If you’re keen to catch the bully action on track for yourself, you’re in for a treat. The boys at Team B-Style will be set up and ready to drive this December at Southern Stance Drift Matsuri, upcoming rounds of the 2020/21 Drift South Series, and they’ve even promised to make the trip north for another D*Club GP event. Wherever you manage to spot them, one thing’s for sure: you’ll definitely hear the ridiculous banter from several miles away!
While the other lads fluffed about with shammying and swapping wheels before this photoshoot, Daniel simply unloaded his S13 from the trailer and called me over. “Which side do you reckon has the least damage? I’ll angle the car to make it look cleaner. You’re lucky I washed it, too.”
When it comes to his car, practicality is the aim of Dan’s game, being somewhat persistent that holy-grail aftermarket parts don’t necessarily make anyone a much better driver. “I like to keep my car simple. It doesn’t carry expensive parts that make it great by any means. Out of the three here, my Silvia isn’t the most special, but it’s definitely the most rough and ready.” Daniel originally purchased his S13 as a performance-ready and dedicated race car. It didn’t take him long to wind the adjustables down, throw some more suitable wheels on it, and tip it into the drift section at Levels Raceway.
Keeping to the theme of lucidity, Dan maintains an SR20DET with stock pistons and rods, a Garrett GTX3076R turbocharger, and a Nissan Z32 five-speed gearbox, bringing in picture-perfect reliability. He achieves angle with GKTech V3 Super Lock front knuckles and a GKTech Dual Caliper handbrake set-up, while visually looking the part with custom paint, an Origin Labo racing line kit, and a staggered set of Rays Gram Light and Work CR Kai wheels.
Recently nabbing first place in the opening round of the 2020 Drift South Series doesn’t seem to have phased Dan too much, as it seems he has his sights set on driving and exploring the courses in Japan. “My end goal is just to have fun, see what happens, keep things simple. I honestly can’t stress that enough!”
You know what? I reckon he’s probably onto something.
I can’t keep up with Sean’s vehicles as of late. Having recently sold his Itasha wrapped S13 that followers had come to know, this particular 180SX is one of two Silvias that Sean now owns. The other, a twin yellow SR20DET S15.
Given his previous chassis and the engine choices of his team mates, I was expecting to see a matching SR20 motor nestled in the engine bay of his 180SX. Instead, I lifted the bonnet to find the resurrected Titanic itself: a boisterous RB25DET engine (with RB26 cam covers) with a Garrett GTX3076R turbocharger strapped to its side. “Don’t worry, it’s no God’s motor,” Sean declared, referring to that of his team mates, “but it was in the car when I purchased it. I bought this car because I knew it would be a good base for me to practise in. I’ve watched it driving in the Drift South series for the last five years, so I knew it would be a super reliable package.”
He’s not wrong. Not only is the 180SX tube-framed in the front and rear, but it is purpose-built for thrashing with a custom V-mounted cooling system, cut front knuckles, and extended lower control arms. Sporting a soft rear suspension set-up and a fair amount of rake, Sean chooses this arrangement as a means for more mechanical grip and easier weight transfer.
It’s almost unbelievable to think that Sean has only owned his car for a month, with its immaculate Rays TE37 wheels, fresh paint, Origin Labo panels, and applied graphics. This was partly due to his immediate urge to pull the car apart as soon as he got his hands on it. “I picked it up on a Saturday, and by Thursday the following week, I’d ripped it to bits and painted it, just in time for a Drift South round the next morning. Nobody knew I had the car, so it was fun catfishing everyone for the event.”
This article originally appeared in NZ Performance Car issue No. 288