Daigo Saito – Japan – Achilles Radial
2012 will be no different from Daigo from 2011, as he only has one thing on his mind – to win. He started off the year with a bang, clinching podium finishes at both the D1 GP Japan Odaiba, Formula Drift USA Long Beach and Atlanta events. In the true sense of the word, Daigo is acknowledged as the “best” drifter on the planet right now. As usual his equipment is top notch, and for the very first time in the FD Series, Daigo will be debuting his Lexus IS-C.
Tengku Djan – Malaysia – M7 Drive
In 2011, Djan took a break from competitive drifting to concentrate on building up his motorsports and racetrack business at Speed City. Interestingly, FD Malaysia would be the biggest event that Speed City has ever hosted to date. Djan would have a lot of pressure on him, he literally has to protect the his home turf this time from the foreign invaders! Probably anything less than a podium position would be deemed a disappointing outing for Djan. In the past 2 FD Asia events he took part in, Djan crashed out in the early stages, so he really needs to claim back his former glory. When he took the overall FD Asia title in 2010, the competitors were mostly just ASEAN guys, but now that we have a influx of drivers from Japan and Oceania, can he keep up with the pace?
Manabu Orido – Japan – RSR
Orido is no doubt an icon in drifting. He is familiar to race fans in Malaysia as he competes full time in the Super GT Championship. He will be using the same Supra from last year, when he made his FD debut at the Malaysia round. Having lost to Saito then, Orido is looking forward to a rematch! Things will become more interesting in Singapore next month when USA-based Ken Gushi takes part in the competition. Orido and Ken Gushi were both part of the famous RSR Drift Team based out of Osaka, with Orido fixed as the No 1 driver and Ken as the No 2 guy. Orido was representing RSR in all Japan events, while Ken represented them for the USA events. Over the years, Ken’s popularity soared especially in the USA due to his excellent command of English. This has led to an internal struggle in the team for recognition which eventually resulted in Ken leaving Team RSR to join the Toyota Racing Team as their No. 1 driver for 2012. How would you like to see a battle between Ken and Orido?
Josh Boettcher – Australia – GT Radial
Josh finished in overall 6th position last year for FD Asia, enabling him to be crowned as Rookie of the Year. That was achieved using a different car at each round! This time, Josh is bringing down his actual competition Nissan Silvia. Many of the drivers in the series are viewing Josh as the dark horse in this competition. So, don’t be surprised if JB gets on the podium at least once this year.
Robbie Nishida – Japan – Achilles Radial
Robbie is pretty much overlooked all the time as he is often in the shadow of his more illustrious teammate Daigo, as they compete in three series across the globe this year, including FD USA and FD Asia. However, this year, Robbie should be able to shine out loud. One must not forget that Robbie has actually been on the podium a few times in the FD USA series, but was stung by poor mechanical reliability for the 2011 season. He is debuting a new car this year for the Asia series (Toyota Chaser), and he should be way more competitive now. Growing up on the US air force base in Okinawa, Robbie has a good command of English and hence serves as translator for Daigo.
Ser Ming Hui (Ah Fai) – Malaysia – Achilles
The bad boy of the FD Asia drift scene – Ah Fai! Every series needs one and Fai is our ultimate rebel. Based on records, Fai is the most penalised drivers in terms of rules and regulations since the series started in 2008. Fai is a very talented driver but has not reached the podium once despite coming close numerous times. He has an extremely aggressive personality and often takes himself out of the competition by trying to do too much and driving over the edge. That’s not all bad – His driving style makes him a fan favourite and his unpredictable style puts him as a serious challenge to his opponents. The last time they met at FD Malaysia 2010, Fai took Djan out in the round of 32. The classic all-Malaysian rivalry would be between Fai and Djan.
Oat – Thailand – M150
Oat is team captain and manager of the famous M150 Drift Team from Thailand. They are acknowledged as the gentlemen drifters of the series with their pedigree family backgrounds and high educational bearing (overseas university education). It is also not surprising that they are the most well-funded team on the grid (even more so than the Japanese drivers). Saranon (Non), the best drifter of the team, is one to watch – he was overall second in the FD Asia 2010 and 2011 series. In recent months though, there has been a lot of talk about Oat’s driving improving by leaps and bounds, with “private coaching” by Daigo and Daijiro Yoshihara. Oat is no slouch himself and was on the podium at FD Thailand 2010. Now, can Oat perform outside of Thailand?