The later afternoon of the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) day, I dropby KL to check out the exciting drifting event at Formula Drift Malaysia. Formula Drift Asia is the sister series of Formula D (US) and targetted for Asia countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. The 2nd round of Formula Drift Asia 2013 would be at Malaysia's holy ground of drifting, the Speed City KL.
The ticket prices were RM138 for grandstand and RM38 for walkabout. The difference was that with grandstand tickets, you can enjoy comfortable seats with shades to block the ultra hot weather. But since, we could freely walk around to enjoy the competition from different angle, so we went for the walkabout tickets. Immediately, we saw the drift cars 'resting' at their own pits before the start of Top 16 battles.
This was Fredric Aasbo's Nascar V8 Toyota GT86 built by Team RS-R. It was wearing the recognizable TRA Kyoto Rocket Bunny wide bodykit which I saw for the third time already. Notice the exposed turbo filter on the hood. Adds great touch onto the new 86!
Masao Suenaga was one of the reasons why I came to this event. He was the driver that I watched and followed since I was a teenager. He was well known for piloting the blue RX7 for RE Amemiya's team since year 2004. Even though, his best season finish was 2nd place in 2005 D1GP and never win any championships before, I think that he is still one of the best Japanese drifters around especially when he's driving his RX7 FD3S.
Check out his full 100 points drifting at 2008 D1GP at Autopolis.
Under the hood of Masao Suenaga's FD3S, was a 20B (3 Rotor) engine equipped with high power output HKS T51R KAI turbocharger. Sweet :)
Next highlight was Daigo Saito's car, the Achilles Radial Lexus IS-C prepped by Achilles Drift Team. Daigo Saito is quite a big hit recently in the world of drifting for being the champion at major drifting championships: 2008 D1GP, 2012 Formula Drift USA, 2011 & 2012 Formula Asia. He managed to get into Top 16 and many eyes were on him as he would be the winner again for this round.
Daigo Saito's clean minimalistic cockpit with refined features: Prodrive deep dish steering wheel, Racepack digital dash, switch panel box for engine ignition, lights, NOS and fuel pump switches, Holinger full sequential transmission, special driver controlled drift brake and the GT car pedal system.
This Lexus IS-C was powered by terrifying 1200hp 3.4L 2JZ-GTE (straight-6) engine, probably the most powerful engine around at Formula Drift Asia. How can this car achieved the 1200hp mark? The secret was the Garrett GTX4294R turbo kit which provide greater boost pressure and higher airflow gain into the 2JZ engine.
That is Daigo Saito on the left and Ken Gushi on the right. Ken Gushi is a Japanese raised in Los Angeles and his father taught him drifting at the age of 13 and debutted in D1GP and Formula Drift at the age of 16 without a driving license at that time!
At the pits of Formula Drift Malaysia, visitors could get real close to the drift cars taking pictures of them, understanding their sophisticated modifications, get upclose with the drivers themselves and even talk to them. At SuperGT for instance, you could hardly get near to the GT cars and could only see them from afar. The experience here at Formula Drift Malaysia was slightly different. :)
Youngest competitor of Formula Drift Malaysia? Haha nope. A kid came over and posed for my camera when I was taking picture of Mervyn Nakamura's Team ISC orange RX7. Cool kid!
The drivers were at the Drivers' Autograph session and they kindly sign their names on caps, t-shirts, stickers and real sporting to entertain the fans even under the extreme hot weather condition of Malaysia.
One of the Formula Drift Asia judges Daijiro Yoshihara aka Dai. He was also from the drifting background where he debutted his first drifting competition in 2003 at the States, similar with Ken Gushi. Dai scored many achievements in Formula Drift US, often being Top 5 overall placing from 2004 to 2010 and finally became champion in 2011.
It was hot and sunny afternoon that day at Speed City KL. This was the view of the track overlooking Palace of the Golden Horses Hotel.
Pic: Ser MingHui aka Fai (Mys) in R32 and Pan Thamtarana (Tha) in S15.
Practice session for the Top 16 contenders started at 2pm. Many drivers came out to give a run familiarizing the track and give the car a final setup before the actual Top 16 battle. Their practices gave me an idea on how the corners supposed to be tackled to make the perfect run during battle. Firstly, the drivers have to drive as fast as possible into the corner and start initiating drift. Points would be given based the drivers' entrance speed. Click here for speed scoring.
Pic: Mai Chaiwat (Tha) in Sil80 and Fredric Aasbo (Nor) in GT86.
Clearing the entrance speed, drivers have work hard to maintain the drift in the best possible angle and drift line following the clipping points marked at the side of the course.
Malaysia's Prince of Drift, Tengku Djan drifting through the longest section of the corner in his X-1R Sil80.
Pic: Chanatpon Kerdpiam aka S (Tha) in Sil80 and Rio Saputro (Idn) in Cefiro A31.
Hard acceleration coming out from the longest stretch, two clipping points indicate that the drivers should control their cars as near to the side wall ...
... before reaching the final part of the left corner...
Pic: Tengku Djan (Mys) and Robert Whyte (Aus) in 350Z.
... and into the S corner to the right. A quick hard counter steer to the right would shift the car's weight to the other side and changing the car's angle without losing much momentum...
... towards the last clipping point...
... and exit the corner in the fastest way as possible thus, ending the simple yet challenging drift run.
A full tandem drift run on the track.
Speed City KL drift track was quite unique as it has mini uphills and downhills throughout the corners. Like above, the cars even made a slight jump during the high speed entrance due to uneven surface of the track. Furthermore, it rained later that day and the slippery floor made the drifting tougher.
You could see the track surface going downhill, uphill and downhill again. Good suspension setup would help the cars to have more traction during bumpy drift.
The practice session for the Top 16 continued on for about an hour...
... before all Top 16 drivers came out in their machines for the Drivers' Parade. However, top qualifier Daigo Saito's Lexus IS-C was no where to be seen. It seemed that his car had some trouble and being worked on at the pit.
That is Fredric Aasbo and his RS-R GT86. His nickname is the Norwegian Hammer and he stands at top drifters level alongside with Daigo Saito, Ken Gushi, Masao Suenaga & Tengku Djan. He was 2012 Formula Drift US Fan Favourite Driver of the Year, won the Best Drifting Style Award, winner of 2012/2011 British Drift Championship, just to name a few of his incredible achievements. He scored more than 60 podium finishes in the drifting competitions he participated in since 2006. Watching few of his tandem practices just now, his skills were great as he could follow and chase the leading car at front.
After the Top 16 parade introduction, the pack left the track led by Mai Chaiwat of Team M150 Overdrive.
The experienced Masao Suenaga who competed in many drifting events did his routine waving to the crowd.
Cool Fredric Aasbo left the track in style with a lucky and happy racequeen sitting at the passenger seat.
A cool Formula Drift Malaysia T-shirt with interesting warning catch phrase.
Lucky for Daigo Saito as he managed to get his Lexus IS-C ready for the first Top 16 battle against Tom Monkhouse (Aus) in Toyota Verossa.
First tandem round was Daigo Saito at the lead, and managed a good run but followed closely by Tom Monkhouse from
Second round was shocking to the crowd as Daigo Saito at the chase, accidentally made a mistake by coming too fast into the first corner and hit the rear of Tom's Toyota Verossa. It was Daigo's fault for causing Tom to lose control of his drift and with that, Daigo's 8 rounds of winning streak was broken. Tom proceeded to Top 8 battle.
Sad to say, when the more interesting battles were coming, I had to make a move already since I would be departing to Singapore that evening for some work training. T_T Many visitors were in full concentration mode, not missing any of the awesome drift actions displayed by the international drivers in this competition.
Before we left the place, Tom Monkhouse who just had the winning run against Daigo Saito came back to his pit and gladly had a family shot taken with his fans. :)
Formula Drift Asia was indeed a very exciting motorsport to watch. The drivers in this competition were the best in their country and they competed for the championship in Asia region. This time, it was held in Malaysia's local drift track and it was my first time visit to this holyground of drifting. I'll definitely be around again to check out the local drift scenes and more photoshoot practices.
Till then, see ya again! And, don't forget to put Formula Drift Malaysia as a must-go event next year 2014!
Btw, 3rd place was won by Ken Gushi defeating Malaysia's Tengku Djan.
The champion of Formula Drift Malaysia 2013 went to S from Thailand, winning over Tom Monkhouse.