Last weekend, the 2019 Drift Kings Championship drew to a close after a thrilling finale in Serie, Greece. Although local legend Christos Chantzaras took the laurels at the event, it was Holland’s Rick Van Goethem who did enough to take the crown with his third-place podium spot. Rick can now call himself the 2019 European Drift Kings Champion! We caught up with the drifting Dutchman during his long drive home.
Rick, congratulations! Last year you came in second, just missing out. This year you did it! What made the difference this year?
I just tried to dot all of the ‘I’s really. It’s all been about the details. I practised more and made sure the car was in perfect condition. We tweaked it a lot during the winter and throughout the entire season as well.
Were there any significant changes to the car compared to last year?
Yes! The biggest one was the Samsonas sequential gearbox instead of the manual one I had last year. That made a huge difference. We did a full engine rebuild during the winter and we tweaked the engine here and there to give it a little more power. Another big change that made a lot of difference was the upgraded suspension that we used resulting in a much sharper response from the car.
You have now been crowned champion, when did you feel it starting to come together?
It was a tough year, with a lot of ups and downs, as is always the case in motorsports. The real turning point for me must have been Oschersleben. I really felt that from that moment on I had a real chance of winning the championship. It made me a lot more aware of everything and made me work even harder to achieve perfection.
Like in Greece, events often feature local talents who can score high points but who aren’t in the running for the championship. So, was this an opportunity for you to play a strategic game?
It certainly helps that even if you don’t win yourself, the winner isn’t actually competing for the championship. So, although you didn’t win, none of your direct rivals did either. During the events themselves, however, I never held back. I always went for it, sometimes taking a little margin not to crash the car or anything. Drifting is a judged sport and if you’re holding back and playing strategically, the judges will ultimately punish you for that.
Now that you’re the champion, what are your plans for next year?
Honestly, I haven’t decided yet. I might build a new car or upgrade this car. Maybe I’ll defend my title in Driftkings, or maybe I won’t. It’s completely open at the moment.
Looking back at this year, what’s your main take-away for next year?
There is always room for improvement. The one thing that I’m really looking to improve is gaining momentum at a track a lot quicker. This year it took me about seven or eight laps. I believe with a little more training and a better car I should be able to get there quicker…
Picture credits: Driftkings