Last weekend legendary Russian drifter Georgy “Gocha” Chivchyan successfully organised another iteration of his hugely successful annual winter event: Motul Zimkhana. Although the temperature was well below freezing and there was still a global pandemic to manage, the Russian drift champion hosted a full grid of Ladas and even had a surprise of his own up his sleeve.
Georgy, how was last year’s season?
It was a big challenge. After we organized Zimkhana last year in February things were looking up and we were gearing up for a new RDS GP season. The pandemic hit a lot later in Russia than in the rest of the world, so we had to organise ourselves a bit differently. However, I must commend the RDS GP organisers because they acted incredibly professionally and worked closely with our government to make the 2020 season a great success. They even managed to host all six rounds. For this, we’re incredibly grateful. We were able to put on a great show and keep our motorsport business running.
Last weekend you managed to organise another successful Zimkhana; it seems to get bigger every year.
It wasn’t easy at all. I was a bit nervous if we would be able to pull it off. On top of coping with a pandemic, the temperatures here in Krasnoyarsk had dropped to -38°C, and there were real worries if it would be possible to host the event, especially with some of our crew and media members outside Russia. Zimkhana is still growing, and we learn from it each year. In previous experiences, we sometimes got the feedback that it was more fun to watch than it was for the drivers, so we took some measures to make it a better event for the drivers. The only thing I thought was a pity was that we couldn’t invite as many international guests to the event as in previous years.
If you’re watching the event as an organiser, don’t you ever get the itch to participate in Zimkhana yourself?
No, not really. If I joined in, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it myself. For that to happen, I would have to close my shop so I could focus on the event. I have too many partnerships and collaborations going on during the event, so for me, it’s imperative that I manage that during the event and make sure it’s an excellent experience for everyone involved.
Most of the participants are top tier drifters such as Yevgueni Losev, who won again this year. What makes them flock to drifting Ladas?
It’s very simple. When you live here, you can’t drift in winter because of all the snow. The track conditions are terrible, or the tracks are simply all snowed in and frozen. So they are forced to improvise and find new ways to sharpen their skills. Drifting Ladas on the ice during events like the Winter Drift Battle or Zimkhana is perfect for that. Guys like Losev know this all too well and really benefit from this kind of training.
During the event, you presented a new car, a Nissan GT-R, as a replacement for the now almost legendary S15?
I get this question a lot: “Will I replace my S15 with the GT-R?” The answer is no. This is just another addition to my garage. I wanted to build a Nissan GT-R because they are simply amazing cars, and compared to the S15, they allow running a wider tyre size. My company and team, Forward Auto, is known for its Nissan S-chassis build, but I want to expand my knowledge to Nissan GT-Rs as well. I might use this car in RDS GP for a few rounds, but I’m not sure it’ll be competitive just yet. I want to test and develop it in the coming two years, that’s my main goal for this car.
What are some of the specs of the car?
We used a highly modified version of the original VR38 engine added a sequential gearbox built by Samsonas, which we mounted in the back along with the differential. This way, we get a transaxle set up that gives us the great weight balance that makes these cars so predictable to handle. And of course, we’ve put Motul 300V in the engine as well as every other Motul fluid in the car which proved to be reliable even at almost - 40 degrees!
© Pictures: Vsevolod Rozhok