Johannes and Elias Hountondji are better known as the Red Bull Drift Brothers. A dynamic duo that is the arch-enemy of any tyre fitted to their car. Both brothers and their team recently landed at the Styrian Red Bull Ring to present their new drift cars to the world. Two incredible machines from Munich powered by Motul.
How did you guys get into drifting and how did it build up to now?
Johannes: This takes us back about 13 years ago. We took our BMW E30 318 daily and tried to modify it with the tools we could find in our dad’s toolbox. When we started out competing, we even shared a car, which was already a stretch by any means. From there we just pushed whenever and wherever we could. It’s hard to believe we’ve come this far. It’s really worth mentioning that, although Elias and I are the main “faces” and we’re in the picture most of the time, the reason we’re at the level we are now is because of our team. The people behind the scenes really have become a family. Without them, all of this wouldn’t have been possible.
Today we’re at the Red Bull Ring. What are you guys doing here?
Johannes: These last few days we’ve been celebrating the pinnacles of what we never even allowed ourselves to dream about. We’ve collaborated with BMW M and built two BMW G82 M4s with over 1000 horsepower using a mostly stock engine. We’re here filming and shooting content but, most importantly, also testing the cars in their complete form for the very first time.
1000 horsepower is incredible. What did you modify to achieve this?
Elias: The engine that came in our M4s is the S58 inline-six twin-turbo engine. The first thing we modified was the turbochargers, which we swapped for two bigger units because we needed more air forced into our engine. Next, we added port injection on top of our direct injection because we knew we also needed more fuel. We also modified the cylinder head to slightly change the geometry of the combustion chamber and the way the flow works from intake to exhaust. We wired the whole thing up to a Motec M142 engine management system and that is pretty much it. To be honest, compared to most engines used for drifting, this engine is really complex, but we wanted to build these to show what these engines are capable of. Most of the internals are still stock. The block, the pistons the crankshaft and so much more. We did get a lot of support from BMW engineers about how to make all the parts talk to each other especially with so many sensors on the car.
What did you modify aside from the power?
Johannes: When we got the car, we took it down to the bare metal. The suspension and steering systems are completely bespoke to this car because we need the extreme angles that are so defining to drifting. The entire interior was removed, and safety and security systems were introduced.
Elias: For the outside of the car, we had the chance to work with a designer that really understood what drifting is all about. The car is 100mm wider at the front and 150mm at the rear. The widened front track was especially important because we needed to clear the chassis rail in combination with the extreme steering angle. A wider track at the rear gives us more grip and thus more speed. One other thing we had to greatly improve was the cooling. Because we doubled the power, we also needed to double the cooling, so now we have two radiators, one at the back and another in the front.
Johannes: As a cherry on top, we did one thing which had nothing to do with engineering whatsoever we just thought it looked cool: the exhaust pipes. We just thought it would look cool if they shot out from the top above the trunk lid.
What’s the most important thing when it comes to the discipline of drifting and what changes when you move to competition?
Johannes: The key thing in drifting is reliability. You push your car a lot during drifting but in order to get better at it you need the seat time, so your car needs to work. When you enter a competition it’s suddenly all about speed and grip. The goal of drifting is simple. You want to put down a fast lead-run and pull away from your opponent as far as possible and with the follow-run you want to be right on the other driver’s door handle all the time. This is why you need grip to use all of that power. Once you find more grip you can use even more power to go sideways in a fast but controllable way. It’s a never-ending story between power and grip. So, in the end, it all comes back to the basics and that’s reliability.
How big of a role plays a racing lubricant like Motul 300V in this reliability?
Johannes: It’s essential. It keeps the engine alive. It reduces friction, heat and so much more. When we first started out, I really went down a rabbit hole when it came to lubrication. Everyone was mocking why I was spending so much money on oil for my cheap E30. The thing is that you can really notice the difference between a good performance lubricant and a cheap lubricant. You can even hear it in the way the engine picks up.
Elias: When we were drifting for a couple of years, we had a car with an M60 engine. It was an engine that already had a rough life. We installed it in one of our cars and took it for a test run. I poured in whatever cheap oil I had available, even though Johannes didn’t approve. The car ran terribly during the test. We then decided to use Motul 300V 15W50 and the engine really improved a lot. We even ran a full season with it and sold the engine to another drifter and I’m pretty sure it’s still running in a car somewhere to this day.
Why did you team up with Motul for this build?
Johannes: It was the ideal partnership. The product speaks for itself. I mean Motul helps teams win countless 24-hour races and that success doesn’t happen through coincidence. On top of that, the team that drives the partnership is a great group of people and we feel like we can not only benefit from their knowledge but also help improve the product for ourselves and the general market.
Elias: Personally, I believe the greatest part of this partnership is the fact that because of the way Motul works and the labs, we now have the possibility to have our oil samples analysed continuously. For this alone we can gather so much information and data for the development of this car and it adds a layer of security above all.