Postcard from Formula Drift Indonesia 2012: Daigo Saito qualifies first and seals Formula Drift Asia title

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

Yes, he did it again.

Daigo Saito qualified first with 94 per cent and that helped him to seal the Formula Drift Asia title even before entering the tandem battles.

It was pretty close at the top, with the first four qualifiers all within a point of the next one. Malaysia’s Prince of Drift Tengku Djan only had his car arrive in the nick of time on Friday late evening, after getting lost out at sea when the forwarder could not locate the ship his car was on.

Every lap for him was a test as he kept working on getting the car right. He did well to come through with 93 per cent for a second place qualifying.

Robbie Nishida is Daigo’s buddy, translator/interpreter and team-mate all in one. I’ve heard people call him a shadow of Daigo, but I don’t think that’s nice. Sure, every team has its Vettel-Webber preference battle but in this case I think Robbie has steadily progressed to show that he is worthy.

I love his smooth style – which explains why he got Best Drift Style (more of that in another post) and he qualified a fantastic third with 92 points.

The combination of Fredric Aasbo and a Supra is lethal and will never go wrong.

First time in the RS-R Supra was no problem for the Norwegian and he qualified fourth with 91 points.

Australia’s hope Josh Boettcher did pretty well too, rounding up the top five with 80 points.

Ken Gushi, highest Indonesian qualifier Rio SB, Dika CH, Saranon the only one from Thailand that weekend and M. Rulli Armando completed the top 10 qualifiers in that order.

[Gushi's qualifying VIDEO]

Gushi was driving for Casio again, sporting the second limited edition Formula Drift Asia watch.

 Falling just outside of the top 10 is Dean Zen of Indonesia, who was rocking it with his BMW E36.

Alinka Hardianti, Indonesia’s drift queen and only the second female to participate in Formula Drift Asia after Jane Cheah of Malaysia and before Hiromi Kajikuma of Japan, put up a pretty solid run last year.

This year though, she scored zeroes on both her runs and failed to qualify.

There were only 30 drivers this time, so basically if you fail to make a score (for example if you spin out) then you don’t advance to the tandem battles on Sunday.

With the pressure of qualifying off their chests, the drifters went into an autograph session for the snaking rows of fans. I spotted a familiar face – remember Jeri Lee the import model from USA who was in Singapore for Super Import Nights this year? She was at Formula Drift Indonesia for Drive M7 and making sure that Tengku Djan is well-sheltered from the heat.

Robbie Nishida got two up on Djan, with not one, not two but THREE Achilles race queens holding umbrellas over him. Still, he was trying hard to beat the heat.

Felix Lim, Singapore’s sole representative, got his car fixed on Friday night after he hit his rear into the wall during practice, but his driveshaft then broke and he struggled through qualifying. It was nice to see him keep up a cheery mood and signing Stamford Tyres and Falken stickers for the fans, accompanied by his ever-supportive wife Charmain.

Saranon Pornpatanarak from the M150 Overdrive Team of Thailand was also the only one from his country competing. He didn’t have anything to give out to the fans, so he was signing Felix’s stickers! OOPS!

The autograph session was held in front of the Achilles booth and I hid in the shade for a while, bumping to Edward Mamahit, the marketing man from Achilles. His pass has “Mr Nice Guy” written on it, LOL!

Ending the day with the 36BOL Asia Drift Cup, fans were treated to visual delight. The 36BOL Asia Drift Cup was previously the Nations Cup at the Malaysia and Singapore rounds. Selected drivers are paired according to country or driver to put on the best tandem performance. Given two runs so they take turns to lead and chase, judges awarded points on a scale of 10. The winning pair will be the one with the highest combined score of their two runs.

Rules for this competition are as follows -

  • Each team is given 2 runs each
  • Each team is to take the same line and angle as qualifying
  • Cars are to be in close proximity to each other
  • On each run, the chase car must overtake the lead car during drift
  • Each run is scored on a scale of 10 points
  • Team will highest combined score from both runs win

There were five pairs who took part…

Team Achilles:  Amandio and Armando

Team Driftpac: Robbie and Saranon

Team GT Radial: Josh Boettcher and Rio Saputro

Team X-Mini :  Ken Gushi and Frederic Aasbo

Team M7 Drive: Daigo Saito and Tengku Djan

On paper, Daigo and Djan make the most invincible pair on the track and they certainly lived up to their reputations. Making five overtaking moves instead of the one mandatory overtaking move, the lethal combo of Daigo and Djan proved to be no match for the rest.

[Asia Drift Cup Daigo + Djan's run 1 VIDEO coming soon!]

[Asia Drift Cup Daigo + Djan's run 2 VIDEO coming soon!]

Seriously, the car control that each of them had was amazing.

Djan credited his partner Daigo, only having praise for him, saying that he wouldn’t have been able to win without Daigo’s skills.

With Daigo and Djan on opposite ends of the battle bracket, the stage is set for them to meet in the final if all goes well. From rivals to partners then rivals again, will Djan be able to beat Daigo tomorrow?

For more of my Formula Drift Indonesia photos, view here.

For videos of all the qualifying runs, view my YouTube channel.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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