Moving from the autumn climate of Japan, I am now in Jakarta, which is hot, humid and hazy.
The final round of the Formula Drift Asia 2012 series is being held in Jakarta, Indonesia this weekend, the home country of title sponsor Achilles Radial.
Arriving at the track today, there was a press conference held this morning with some exciting official announcements:
1) Achilles Radial extends its title sponsorship for three more years to 2015. Here’s a happy Edward Mamahit , the Head of global marketing and business development of PT. Multistrada Arah Sarana (Achilles) with Sherman Tan, ESPN STAR SPORTS Events Management Group’s senior director:
2) Formula Drift Asia will be broadcast to more countries next year via the FOX network, as ESPN has since gone under their wing.
3) Formula Drift Asia will be heading to a new venue next season – Sydney, Australia!
The third piece of news should make Josh Boettcher a happy, happy man! He has been the first and only Australian in Formula Drift Asia thus far.
The media turnout was great and it was really heartwarming to see such support from the press here in Jakarta. A panel of selected drivers were present at the press conference to interact with the media, including Malaysia’s Prince of Drift Tengku Djan who was trying to capture a photo with his phone’s front-facing camera.
During the time of the press conference (in the morning), there was still no news of Djan’s car which was apparently lost out at sea that the forwarders could not even locate the ship it is on. Last I heard before I left the track at 6pm (local time) after the driver briefing though, his car was supposedly on its way to the track.
The event was not open to public today as teams move in with their cars, drivers get themselves registered and settled, and the organisers put the final operational setup in place. I was walking around taking photos, as usual, when someone stopped me in my tracks and asked me to autograph his bonnet.
He was collecting autographs on his bonnet, including those of drivers and also Dino from Speedhunters.com. This is a first for me – I’ve never signed on a bonnet!
The guys from the US all arrived within today…
Formula Drift USA’s co-founder Ryan Sage was in a few days ago, while Jarod DeAnda the voice of Formula Drift only arrived today.
Daijiro Yoshihara, who competes in Formula Drift USA but is a judge of Formula Drift Asia, also arrived a few days ago. It wasn’t too good a season for him this year and he didn’t defend his Formula Drift USA 2011 title, but he said he will continue trying harder.
Once judge Andy Yen arrived at the track in the afternoon, Dai and Andy went right to work on the track to mark out the course.
The course is not much different from last year with its long straight in, a sweeper and a series of twists and turns.
Meanwhile, Kevin Wells, technical manager of Formula Drift USA and Formula Drift Asia, and also a judge in Asia, was conducting the technical inspections and checking the cars one by one.
Once the track layout was done, those competing in the 36bol Asia Drift Cup (a side competition where selected drifters pair up to perform the best tandem run) started practising. One such pair is that of Fredric Aasbo and Ken Gushi, driving for Team X-mini. In the previous two rounds, this was held as a Nations Cup where each country is represented by a selected pair of drivers. This has changed for the Indonesian round where drivers pair up according to sponsors instead of country.
The sexy RS-R Supra is no stranger to Formula Drift Asia, with Ken Gushi driving it at last year’s Formula Drift Indonesia and subsequently it was drifted by Max Orido. Due to schedule clashes, Orido is unable to make it to Jakarta to compete. In his place is Norwegian Fredric Aasbo, a Formula Drift USA regular who won Rookie of the Year in 2010.
Fredric is taller than Orido and I thought he looked kinda squashed in the cockpit of the RS-R. The team has worked hard to adjust the car setup to Aasbo’s style and he said he’s managing it fine. The weather is probably the bigger issue that he has to contend with – I lost count of how many packets of water he drank.
Fredric stayed in the shade as much as possible, even using the yet-to-be-occupied pit next to him as his temporary changing room. It isn’t an exaggeration though – the sun is pretty relentless in Jakarta, even the local Indonesian drifters find it overwhelming.
There wasn’t a lot of track action today, just media and VIP joyrides and the 36bol Asia Drift Cup practice. Only one little incident occurred when Felix Lim found his rear in the wall.
Fortunately the car has since been fixed and Felix is ready to go drifting and do Singapore proud as the sole representation this weekend.
This is Felix’s first Formula Drift event outside of Singapore, having participated in all five Formula Drift Singapore events every year since 2008.
He is one of three Stamford Falken Drift Team drivers from Singapore, the other being Jansen Tan and Adam Toh.
Coming into this weekend, Daigo Saito is brimming with confidence to win and take the Formula Drift Asia title one more time.
He still cannot speak English but that makes no difference to his skills on the track.
I always enjoy walking around and things that caught my attention today were…
Energy boosters for cars!
A really interesting sticker
Torn-up tyres by Indonesia’s drift queen Alinka (aged 20)
30 drivers will be competing this weekend, of which two-thirds are Indonesian. Who will emerge local hero? Will it be Armando who finished 2nd here last year? Or Rio SB (with his Angry Bird car) who was on the podium in Singapore?
Only one way to find out… just wait and see!
May the sun have mercy on us and the rain clouds stay hidden in their chambers…
View more photos of Formula Drift Indonesia here.