Japanese drifter Daigo Saito has won Formula Drift Malaysia 2010. The 2008 D1GP champion, who drove a TRC Racing Team Toyota Aristo, beat Thai hotshot Kokae in the finals. Another Japanese drifter, Ryuji Miki, completed the podium after seeing off Indonesian rally regular Rifat Sungkar in the third place shootout.
Most of the local heroes got kicked out in the opening round of the tandem battles, including “Tandem Assassin” Tengku Djan. However, Djan did enough to hold on to his lead in the 2010 Formula Drift Asia standings as closest rival Pop from Thailand bowed out in the Sweet 16 stage.
It was cloudy like yesterday at Dataran Merdeka, but there was no rain to spice things up. Still, there was plenty of top sideways action plus carnage and wreck from dates with the concrete barriers.
UPDATE: Comprehensive event report as it happened is after the jump.
The tandem battles started with yesterday’s top qualifier Daynom Templeman squaring off against the last of the top 32 Kevin Rajoo. The Malaysian privateer was clearly out of his league and didn’t pose any challenge to the Kiwi. It was similarly easy for Kokae, who could have eased past David Feliciano one handed.
Others who had an easy first battle included Ryuji Miki. His rival Lim Kim Wan smashed his baby blue FD into the wall when following and spun while leading. The good looking and attention hungry (he had police lights on his car!) Joe from PTT enjoyed a walk over – Lim Zee King’s car wasn’t up to the task.
Up next was Ee Yoong Chern vs Team Goodyear Malaysia’s Hanizam Hamzah a.k.a Loyai. TGM’s big hope didn’t do too well against the bespectacled R32 driver; the former spun twice, when he led and when he chased. Loyai’s only teammate starring today Michael Gan fell at the same stage to Indonesian Rhenadi Arinton.
The AE86 duo of Tan Tat Wei and Ivan Lau were far from their best too. TTW fell to another Hachiroku driven by aggressive Indonesian youngster Dio, while Ivan lost out to impressive Thai drifter Oat. Oat impressed the crowd in his FD RX-7 and is part of a seven-car entry by Overdrive Team. Oat’s two Cefiro A31 teammates also served up a great “Muay Thai” duel that Mai 888 won.
One of the delicious battles on paper pitted Tengku Djan against Ser Ming Hui, more popularly known as Ah Fai. Djan led first, with Ah Fai always in close proximity. Everyone expected the same or better from the Prince of Drift, but he overcooked it at the first rear clipping point and spun. It was the last we saw of him till the prize giving ceremony.
On to the big crashes. Mohd Fazreen a.k.a Along Rempit had his front clipped by Charles Ng (who went through) while Bullzai banged the wall at the second turn. The heaviest crash was by Mervyn Nakamura, whose A31 was airborne for awhile after slamming into the same clipping point barrier. Nothing like some carnage to keep the crowd on their feet. Fortunately, no one got hurt.
In the Sweet 16 stage, Templeman kicked out Yoong and Ah Fai prevailed over Brazilian Hashiguti Anderson, which leaves the Team Exotic Drift man as the sole Malaysian going to the top eight. Ryuji Miki ended 19-year old Indonesian Dio’s run; the latter’s brave and gung ho spirit in the little AE86 won plenty of applause.
The duel between Daigo Saito and Joe PTT were between two crowd favorites. Joe with his flashing police lights gave a superb chase, mimicking his Japanese rival’s angles even when Saito went shallow. It was then the Thai’s turn to lead and he pulled out a big gap, but just when victory was a few inches from his grasp, he spun in the final turn, leading to a One More Time. His car was fixed in time to contest the OMT but Daigo had the momentum and won the tie. Gripping stuff.
The other battles included a good fight between Overdrive teammates Oat and Non. It was close and there were no mistakes, but Non edged it to keep his championship hopes alive. It was not for long however, as Non was knocked out by eventual winner Saito in the semis. The Thai didn’t put a foot wrong to this amateur observer’s eyes but after one OMT, FD judges Ryan Sage, Dai Yoshihara and Andy Yen gave it to the Yakuza look drifter.
As we observed yesterday, Thai Goodyear drifter Kokae has been very impressive throughout and at this stage I was backing him to win outright. He squared up against Charles Ng and his Toyota Chaser for one of the best duels of the day. Both men drove door to door for an OMT. In the rematch, Charles closed the door on Kokae in the final turn instead of hugging the wall, halting the Thai’s smooth chase. It didn’t look good on the Thai snack guy, but fortunately the judges voted for him 2 to 1. Kokae then took on Rhenadi in the quarter finals and won easily.
In the other Elite 8 battles, Miki beat Kiwi Daynom and Ah Fai fell to Indonesian Rifat Sungkar. The Malaysian damaged his suspension when kissing the barriers and couldn’t do much in the OMT. His departure ended the Malaysian challenge. The semi finals were straightforward for victors Kokae and Daigo Saito.
The final between the Japanese favorite and the surprise Thai package was good, but nothing epic. Kokae did a good job until the end of the duel when he was chasing Daigo. The Japanese’s red Lexus slowed down and tightened the line on Kokae, who was already committed and had nowhere to go. He spun. He lost. My personal man on the match.
It was a great weekend of sideways action, probably only rivaled by the other kind of models on display. I’ll need time to sort that out, but it’ll be coming! :)