Were you there at Goodyear Formula Drift Malaysia? If you made your way to MAEPS Serdang yesterday, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the event served up great sideways action and drama – I was even hoping that the show will drag longer with few more “One More Time” runs! For those who didn’t, here’s what you missed: Malaysia’s Tengku Djan outdrifted 54 others from across Asia-Pacific to be the inaugural Goodyear Formula Drift Malaysia champion!
Read the full report and view the gallery after the jump!
Held over the weekend, Goodyear Formula Drift Malaysia comes just a little more than a month after Goodyear Formula Drift Thailand, which was held back in November (FD Singapore happened in July). The location in Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) inside UPM Serdang isn’t easy to locate if you’re not familiar with the area, but the giant car park proved to be a very good drift venue – the surface is new and smooth, its valley like surrounding is spectator friendly and there’s an adjacent big building with a bird’s eye view of the course.
Practise and qualifying on Saturday wasn’t very well attended, but that’s normal in Malaysia where even F1 doesn’t draw a crowd for qualifying. A total of 54 drivers were registered here, three more than in Thailand. The organisers revealed that they had to turn down a large number of overseas drifters as they didn’t meet strict Formula Drift regulations (for cars); even those competing in Formula Drift USA are enquiring about FD Asia, a sure sign that the series is gaining momentum.
Saturday qualifying’s aim is to trim down the 54 drivers to a top 32 group that will feature in Sunday’s showdown, and each driver is given two runs, with the best of two taken into account. The session wasn’t as straightforward as expected, though. New Zealand’s Mike Whiddet a.k.a Mad Mike, winner of FD Thailand and one of the big favourites for this event, spun out in his first run and got a zero for his efforts. The pressure was on for the flamboyant Red Bull Mazda RX-7 driver for his second run – he qualified eventually, but in a lowly 19th place.
The other favourites had less problems. FD Thailand podium finisher Tengku Djan was the top qualifier of the day with 88.7 points and runner-up to Mad Mike, Japanese Ryuji Miki qualified third. An unexpected name popped up in second: Hanizam bin Hamzah from Team GT Radial scored 81.2 points in his Nissan A31. Team Goodyear Malaysia – comprising Ariff Johanis, Azrina Jane, Michael Gan and Johan Norman – had mixed feelings as only one of them made the top 32, but Ariff was up there in fourth with a strong run.
In Formula Drift, drivers are judged on speed (faster is better), line (the car must come as close as possible to the designated front and rear clipping points; car must change direction at pre-determined transition point), angle (of rear slip, bigger is better) and overall impression, which is a subjective criteria that includes drama and excitement. Maximum score is 100 points.
On Sunday, the capacity crowd were treated to tandem battles, where rivals go head-to-head. They will take turns as the lead car, which must do a perfect run without being distracted by the following car. The follower needs to mimic the lead car’s line and stay as close as possible, overtaking is a no-no. All big names cruised through their first tandem battle, but one Malaysian called Mervyn Nakamura who is sponsored by Federal Tyre caught my eye – he then went all the way to the semi finals where he lost to Djan. Team Goodyear Malaysia’s challenge stopped here as Ariff bowed out.
The ‘Sweet 16′ stage saw a couple of compelling battles. First up was Mad Mike versus Ryuji Miki – the Japanese just “didn’t show up” and lost out to Mike in tame fashion. The Supra driver was much better in Thailand so it was quite a disappointment to see him go out this way. The other standouts were Thai Drift King “Kiki” and Bridgestone Malaysia’s Ivan Lau. The former’s beautiful S15 Silvia spews out coloured smoke from its rear tyres while Ivan’s bashed up AE86 had the look of a giant slayer.
His giant lie in the last eight, and it was Mad Mike and his insanely loud four-rotor RX-7. The Kiwi hit Ivan when the Malaysian was the lead car, denying him a chance to show full potential. Kiki (who looks like WWF’s Stone Cold Steve Austin) saw off Saturday’s surprise qualifier Hanizam to move into the semis, where he met Mad Mike. The crowd favourite showman hit Kiki in the side, and paid the penalty as the Thai moved on to the finals. I asked them later to clarify the incident and Mike owned up, saying that it was his fault and he couldn’t see Kiki with all that purple smoke in the way. The other side of the table saw Djan easily knocking off Mervyn Nakamura.
So it was Djan versus Kiki in the finals. In the picture below you’ll see two S15s, but Djan’s Nismo backed car actually started life as a 180SX – see side profile pic in gallery for the difference. Why this and not his iconic Hachi roku? Our guess is that unlike tighter local courses, international level drifting requires higher speed and more horsepower to keep up with the competition, as Team Goodyear Malaysia found out in Thailand.
It wasn’t much of an epic battle, and to be honest, by this point most would have already “known” that our Prince of Drift is going to win. Kiki was pretty close to Djan when he was following, but Djan stuck to the Thai like a leech when when the latter was leading. This victory should be very sweet for Tengku Djan, as he fought all out in difficult conditions in Thailand, only to go out in highly debatable circumstance. With this triumph, Djan has been on the podium in all three FD Asia events this year, winning two of them.
“Malaysia Boleh” is not always applicable in the world of sports, but drifting is one arena where our flag can be proudly flown high – Tengku Djan is among the best in the business.
Champion: Tengku Djan / Malaysia / Bridgestone Malaysia
Runner up: Sak Nana Kiki / Thailand / Team PTT
Third place: Mike Whiddet / New Zealand / Goodyear
[zenphotopress number=999 album=696]