It can seem rather strange to the layman, how a car going sideways can somehow translate to a score. Drifting is unusual in motorsport in that it is judged, and as we discussed previously, it is not simply about who finishes the course first. If it was about that, every battle would end in a draw. So, let’s break down just how this sport is scored.
Drifting is traditionally scored by a panel of three judges. These judges score both the qualifying runs and the battles. In qualifying, the judges will each give a driver a score out of 100. The average of these two scores will be the scored points for the driver’s run. Each driver usually gets two qualifying runs, and the better of these two scores will determine the driver’s qualifying position. Usually, there are 32 qualifying places. Any drivers 33rd or below will not qualify for the battles. Battles are paired off in reverse order (the first qualifier will face the 32nd, the second qualifier will face the 31st, and so on) and each driver gets a run where they lead (are the driver ahead) and chase (are the driver behind).
The winning driver advances to the next round based on judges’ majority decision, depending on the average performance of the driver in the two runs. It is also possible for the judges to request the drivers go “ONE MORE TIME”, essentially meaning they cannot split them and would like to see them battle again to declare a winner. This continues until one driver emerges victorious.
The judges have certain parameters they score drivers on both in qualifying and battles.
Qualifying is judged mainly by four aspects:
The most important aspect of the driver’s run is how well they adhere to the qualifying line. This is a route around the track which the judges explain to the drivers in a briefing prior to their track time. The line is denoted to the drivers by shaded boxes on the track, known as “clipping points”. These can be either front, or rear clipping points, and are a visual representation for the drivers and judges about where to place the car when making a run. The further they are off this line, the less points the run will score.
Judges are looking for a car to maintain a good amount of slip angle throughout the whole course. The car barely drifting is not the way the judges want to see the run performed, so the more angle, the better a run is likely to score.
Judges want to see a clean and fluid run through the course, and so anything which does not fit in with that will cause people to drop points. This can include straightening, dropping wheels off the course, momentary or complete loss of drift, or a spin. Sometimes these can even result in an automatic zero points.
Quite simply, this is the “flashiness” of the run. The more of a spectacle the run is, the more aggression, the more excitement, the better the run will score.
In battles, judges will also incorporate another aspect.
This applies to the chase car. Proximity is a measure of how close the chase car is to the lead car as they go through the course. By keeping close without actually causing significant contact, a chase driver can hope to score well. Conversely, being a long way away from the lead car can be detrimental to a driver’s score.
By understanding the criteria for judges to score them by, a driver can ensure his runs will be well received, and hopefully stand him in good stead for finishing well in the competition. One of drifting’s most unique aspects is how it is scored, so we hope this clarifies it for you. Next time you tune into some drifting, you will hopefully be able to follow along!
If you’re curious as to how judges devise the line, watch the below video to see BDC owner Matt Stevenson and Head Judge Simon Perry discuss the all-new qualifying line at Driftland!
So, now you know what the judges are looking for, why not have a go yourself? Click the button below to run our 2020 Driftland Layout on Assetto Corsa! See if you can put together the perfect 100 point run!