It was a bittersweet day for local drifter Tengku Djan Ley as he clinched the overall crown for the Goodyear Formula Drift Asia 2010 despite spinning out of his Top 32 battle early on in the day. Nonetheless, the day was still filled with all the drama one could expect from a Formula Drift showdown on such a technical layout as there were more spins, crashes and OMTs than you could shake a tie-rod at.
Despite all the action and heartbreak, Japanese drifter Daigo Saito took the win in the third and final round of the Asian Formula Drift championship by overcoming crowd favourite and relative unknown Kokae from Thailand.
Some of the heartbreak from yesterday’s qualifying that saw some of the household names fail to make the cut was all but banished to the back of the mind as the Top 32 tsuiso battles, judged by Formula Drift judges Ryan Sage, Dai Yoshihara and Andy Yen, got underway in Dataran Merdeka.
Having topped the qualifying sheet yesterday, Kiwi Daynom ‘Slim’ Templeman took on last qualifier, Malaysian Kevin Rajoo in the first Top 32 battle of the day. The vast gap in experience showed as Slim easily pulled away in the first run while in the lead and Kevin spinning out while chasing didn’t help his cause either. On the second run, Slim stayed close to Kevin although both drivers had to pull a correction at the U-turn. Slim goes through having had a better first run and less correction on the second.
It was an all Malaysian battle next as Hanizam ‘Loyai’ Hamzah of the Goodyear Malaysia team lined up against Ee Yoong Cherng. It was not the Goodyear driver’s day as he spun his Nissan Cefiro A31 on both runs, the first while chasing and the second while initiating, allowing Yoong and his V8-powered Nissan Skyline R32 through into the Top 16.
The third tie was an all Toyota Corolla AE86 battle between local favourite Tan Tat Wei and 19 year old Indonesian Amandio. In the first run, Tat Wei lead with Amandio chasing aggressively behind. The second run saw Tat Wei apply a big correction at the entry to the U-turn with Amandio also making a correction, albeit a small one, at the exit of the U-turn. Amandio makes it through in the first shock of the day, with many more to come.
Japanese Ryuji Miki was up against local Lim Kim Wan next. Miki lead the first run and Kim Wan lost the drift, ending up stopping at the U-turn to avoid hitting the wall. When it was Kim Wan’s turn to lead, he knew he had to pull out all the stops but unfortunately he overcooked it, spinning out his Mazda RX-7 while initiating and giving victory to Miki in his Nissan Silvia S15.
Another crowd favourite, Japanese Daigo Saito in the barge-like Toyota Aristo was paired with Thai Davide Dorigo in his Silvia S13. The first run saw Davide going in aggressively, closing in rapidly at the entry to the U-turn but coming too close and having to stop. Daigo made no mistakes on the next run, matching Davide’s strong showing point-for-point to barely scrape through.
It was not a good day for the local drivers as many of them didn’t make it past the Top 32. Lim Zee King had to forfeit his run against Thai Jo as his Nissan 180SX was having mechanical trouble and couldn’t be fixed in time.
It was Ivan Lau’s turn then, lining up next to Thai driver Oat. The Thai driver carried plenty of speed on his runs, opening up a big gap although Ivan managed to keep pace. On Ivan’s run, the local driver was leading and put in a smooth line but Oat had way more angle throughout the run and the judges called for a OMT. Oat didn’t make any mistakes then and put in a solid performance to move to the Top 16.
Two Thai drivers were paired up, Non Saranon and Amm Kasom. Non was one of the few drivers in the overall championship that still had a chance at winning, going into the Top 32. Non shadowed Amm closely on the second run and moved on at the expense of his teammate.
Next up was Kokae and Filipino David Feliciano. Kokae went in with a lead foot on the first run, lots of speed and huge angle to open up a big gap. It wasn’t the same case in the following run as he went in to the U-turn with a shallow line and knocked the clipping point slightly. Nonetheless, his first run was deemed good enough to see him through.
Hong Kong driver Charles Ng, last year’s Formula Drift USA Pro-Am’s champion, driving the Goodyear Spark Motorsports Toyota Chaser saw himself paired with local driver Mohamed Fazreen in a Cefiro A31. Fazreen straightens ever so slightly on the second run and clips the rear of Charles Chaser as the latter transitions for the U-turn. Charles moves on with a badly damaged rear end.
It was another all-Thai battle as Mai Chaiwat took on Keak Rapee. It was not Keak’s day as he straightened on both runs, with him throwing off Mai on the second run and causing the latter to avoid him. Mai still traded some paint with Keak as he corrected too quickly and made contact with Keak that hadn’t recovered from his straightening yet.
Indonesian Rhenadi Arinton was up against local Michael Gan as the Top 32 hit the last quarter. Michael was having a very good weekend with strong showings all through. After the first two runs, the judges called for a OMT. On the first OMT run, Rhenadi clips the wall at the U-turn and straightens but manages to correct and keep going. When Gan had to lead on the second OMT run, he went all out and initiated too hard, causing him to spin and put an end to his and his Nissan Cefiro A31’s weekend. Gan was becoming a crowd favourite too, with tons of smoke and consistent runs but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Everybody’s eyes were on the next battle, Djan Ley was up against local Ah Fai. Alas, it was just not Djan’s day as Fai was on top of the world. The first run saw Djan lead but Fai was sticking to him like a shadow, matching move-for-move and putting the pressure on the Prince of Drift. It must have got to him as on the second run, Djan put too much in it and spun out on the initiation, causing the biggest upset of the day and paving the way for Fai to go through.
Hashiguti Anderson and Zaiham Hamdan found themselves on the grid next. Zaiham had put in a strong showing during practice but went in too hot on while following on the first run, spinning out on the initiation and making the acquaintance of the kerb. The resulting damage was unrepairable in the five minutes and thus he had to forfeit.
It was yet another Malaysian casualty as Mervyn Nakamura lost out to Indonesian Rifat Sungkar. Mervyn, leading on the first run, spins out while initiating and goes hard into the wall, sending all four tyres into the air. It wasn’t a surprise that the car has done for the weekend and he had to pull out of the second run, giving Rifat victory.
The final Top 32 run saw local Nazrul Afifi paired with Thailand’s Pop in the V8 Toyota Chaser, the unofficial loudest car of the weekend. Due to crashing hard during the morning practice, Nazrul had to forfeit was well and the V8 completed the Top 16 with Pop behind the wheel.
So onto the Top 16 and it was Daynom up against Yoong for the first battle. Being one of only two Malaysians left in the Top 16, Yoong had a lot to shoulder. On the second run, he clipped the wall while in the lead, briefly straightening out, but it was sufficient for Daynom to make the Great 8.
It was then Amandio lining up against Miki. Amandio, chasing on the first run, stayed close but was still marginally slower than Miki. On the second run, Miki stuck to Amandio like glue, with a smoother run compared to the Indonesian’s more aggressive style. Miki wins to move on.
Saito found himself meeting Jo in the Top 16. Jo knocked the clipping point at the U-turn while chasing in the first round. On the second run, Jo hit the wall at the exit of the U-turn and spun. Nonetheless, Saito had to correct himself too and an OMT was called for. Once again, Saito slows down severely at the U-turn and causes Jo to come to a stop. Saito did maintain his drift and kept it smooth on the following run as well and takes the win.
The Thais were dominating this round as Oat met Non. It appeared that Oat had done just enough to win by keeping close to Non but the judges deemed an OMT necessary. In the OMT, Oat once again goes for the kill, closing in at the U-turn but Non cut him off and Oat came to stop, ending his day and seeing Non go through.
By this time, the smoke, speed and massive angles of Kokae were making him a true crowd pleaser. He was up against Charles this time. Charles closed in at the U-turn while chasing but Kokae loses the drift and stops. In the next run, Charles carries a shallower line into the U-turn and almost comes to a stop. No surprises here as the judges go with an OMT. In the OMT, Kokae nudges the wall at the U-turn and straightens but still makes it through, having made a stronger first run.
Mai met Rhenadi in the next pairing. The first run saw Mai lose the drift and straighten while leading. The second run, the Thai driver hits the wall at the U-turn but the judges still call for an OMT as Rhenadi’s runs weren’t that strong either. However, the damage Mai sustained from clipping the wall forces him to forfeit the OMT and Rhenadi takes it with open arms.
Ah Fai and Hashiguti locked horns next. Once again, Ah Fai was on top of his game as he went pedal-to-the -metal with lots of speed and stayed close to Hashiguti. He had a much smoother line as well and the judges agreed, sending Ah Fai through to the Great 8 as the sole Malaysian representative.
Completing the Great 8 was either Rifat or Pop. It was just not Pop’s day as he spun out on both runs, losing it at the switch over on the first and while leading and repeating it at the U-turn’s entry on the next run, giving an easy victory to Rifat.
Daynom found himself peering eye-to-eye with Miki in the first Great 8 clash. The New Zealander put in a smooth run on the lead but Miki didn’t make it easy, staying close all through the run. On the following run, it was Miki’s turn for a smooth and clean run and Daynom straightened at the U-turn exit, making Miki the first semi-finalist of the day.
Next up was Saito and Non. Every battle now was a crucial one for Non as he still had a shot at overcoming Djan at the top of the overall championship. On the second run, Non entered the U-turn a little too wide, allowing Saito to creep in on the inside and keep it close. The judges called for an OMT and it went down to the wire. Both drivers played cone-assassin in the OMT but Saito was deemed the less brutal one and he moves on.
The crowd went wild as Kokae line up against Rhenadi for the third semi-final spot. It appeared that Kokae was feeding off the crowds enthusiasm for him as he put in another strong performance in the first run. Of course, Rhenadi going full circle on the switch over in the second round just made it easier for the judges to send Kokar through.
It was all on Ah Fai to keep the Jalur Gemilang flying high as the sole local driver left in the fray. Everybody knew it wasn’t going to be an easy fight with Rifat but from his earlier performances, Ah Fai had it in him. In the second run, Rifat straightened and it looked good for Ah Fai but he nudged the kerb at the U-turn’s exit and suffered some serious suspension-arm damage. Luck wasn’t on his side as the judges went for an OMT and he did the best he could with the five minute rule and came back out. Nonetheless, the damage was far too severe and the bent arm gave way during the run, causing Ah Fai to abort, Rifat to go through and all Malaysian hopes to end.
This was an all Japanese affair and probably one that meant deeply to both drivers. Saito and Miki lined up side by side on the grid for a spot in the final. Both runs saw Saito exhibit a smoother drift with little error. Miki on the other hand ran a rough race and was markedly slower than Saito. The judges concurred and it was Saito through to the finals.
Battling it out to complete the final roster was Kokae and Rifat. By this point in time, the crowd was wildly behind Kokae. His huge speed, massive angle and smoke machine impressions were driving the insane. Plus, it was hard to miss his Cefiro, with the Koe Kae cartoon character plastered on the side and those wide ass Volk TE37 rims poking out from under the fenders. Kokae led the first run that saw Rifat straighten at the U-turn. The Indonesian also didn’t match Kokae for speed and angle. On the following run, Kokae got inch-close to Rifat at the ext of the U-turn and made it to the final.
Third/ Fourth Placing
Before the winner could be decided, Miki and Rifat had to scruff it out for third place. Miki, on the chase in the first run, edged Rifat in all aspects. It was the same case in the second run with Miki in the lead this time. The Japanese driver clocked in a strong drive to seal a podium spot.
All the work over the weekend was finally down to these two runs for Saito and Kokae. The crowd were understandably split over the two. Saito has been drifting for 10 years now and his trademark flame-coloured hair and powerful Chaser was almost iconic in the D1GP. Kokae on the other hand was milking the underdog tag for all it was worth. The relative unknown from Thailand had come here amongst other more renowned Thai drifters but managed to muscle his way to the finals with some balls-to-the-wall driving that got the crowd on his side. Best bit was, Kokae had only started drifting about a year ago and he was already at a level that some people take years to reach.
Anyways, the finals kicked off with Kokae leading the first run. Both drivers put in solid runs this time with little errors. Now it was Saito’s turn to lead in the second run. Once again, Saito reduces speed at the U-turn to throw off his opponent and it works as Kokae loses drift and straightens out at the exit. He rapidly powers on to try and initiate back a drift but instead he spins out and goes on to floor it to create the biggest and thickest smoke could of the weekend. So in the end it’s Saito’s day as he wins the round.
All in all, the unique venue and highly technical course, coupled with the challenging surface, more than lived up to the promise of drama and some of the best drifting in the region. Djan made the home crowd proud by taking the overall championship on home soil, having done enough by winning the Singaporean leg and taking third in the Thai leg.
There was no better way to end 2010 than with the Goodyear Formula Drift Asia 2010 championship being wrapped up in such style and panache at such a historical location. News from the grapevine suggests that next year’s edition will have more in store for us.