For a moment, the dark clouds looked like they had gathered from afar, planning to rain on the parade that is Formula Drift Singapore 2010. The fact that it didn’t happen was perhaps something good, as many of the 42 participating drifters already found the tight course challenging without the rain. Which was why instead of the traditional top 32 shootout on race day, FD Singapore started off today with a “top 26” battle – yesterday’s top three qualifiers Ryuji Miki, Atsushi Murata and Tengku Djan were given byes in the first knockout round (29 qualified in total).

While Saturday qualifying is done solo, Sunday’s knockout format requires drifters to race side-by-side in tandem battles, with the top qualifiers going up against the bottom in the list. At this stage, Team Goodyear Malaysia’s Michael Gan limped home with a mechanical failure (broken LSD) when fighting with fellow Malaysian Ivan Lau, who went on to to lose a quarter final battle between teammate and eventual runner up Tan Tat Wei.

Continue reading and see the gallery after the jump. Day 1 gallery and report is here.

Goodyear Malaysia’s Hanizam a.k.a Loyai, who was paired with Malaysian Wong Kee Thong (AE86) got into more drama when he was involved in a collision. The Boostzone Tyrepac driver was deemed to be at fault, and Hanizam got through. All the big names also passed this hurdle except for Singaporean poster boy drifter Ivan Lim who drives for Goodyear Binter. Malaysian Kumho driver Ee Yoong Chern also ended his journey here but Lee Kim Wan (Team ISC, FD RX-7), who really caught my eye yesterday, totally outclassed Felix Lim from Falken Singapore (whole team of 3 flopped), and was in.

The top 16 round kicked off with one of the big names in Formula Drift, Ryuji Miki being knocked out by Indonesian Rhenadi Arinton, but the upsets didn’t stop there. Goodyear Malaysia’s Loyai wasn’t exactly delighted to be paired with highly rated Japanese drifter and top qualifier Atsushi Murata, but not only did he surprised the Red Bull driver, the judges, commentator and audience started to notice him, prompting Jarod DeAnda, the voice of Formula Drift to call him “a force to be reckoned with”. When the Japanese led (2 runs per battle, each takes turn to lead), Loyai followed tightly, but on the second run, the following Murata took off his A31’s rear bumper. Murata was at fault and the Goodyear driver started to look like a giant killer.

This stage saw the exit of promising Thai youngster SS Flora (Goodyear) and Malaysian Ser Ming Hui (Exotic Tuner), more popularly known as Ah Fai. “Thai Drift King” Kiki bowed out to Tengku Djan in the highest profile battle so far. It was an easy win for Djan – Kiki spun while following, and spewed out his trademark purple tyre smoke that can blind the follower, but to no avail. Easy win for the eventual winner.

Top 8. As if it couldn’t get any harder for Loyai, he was up against Fanga Dan from New Zealand. The Kiwi does his thing in a RB26 powered Holden, and is one of Goodyear’s imported drivers for this event alongside the likes of Ryuji Miki. Poor Hanizam was banged by Miki in practice earlier in the day, had zero practice prior to qualifying due to a broken windscreen and was fresh from heavy battle with favourite Murata.

He once again got me screaming like a mad man with some superb door-to-door driving when following Fanga Dan. When he led, the Kiwi wasn’t even close. Yours truly, the crowd, and everyone back in the pits thought he had won, but the judges (after long deliberation) gave the tie to Dan. I’m no drift expert, but this looked to be a questionable call. Perhaps it’s like football; when stakes are high, and hard calls have to be made by the referee, it’s always easier to side with the big guns. I spoke to the man and his crew after the race, and they were all shocked and gutted at the outcome. Had he gone through, I believe he would have gone on to the podium. The humble 38-year old deserved better for what he put in throughout the weekend, so it was a shame!

UPDATE: Speaking to an experienced FD Asia competitor, who also has judging experience, judges also look at the drifter’s previous runs for “trends”. Loyai was involved in plenty of incidents throughout the weekend, mostly on the first corner, and it was very likely that the panel saw something we did not.

The rest of the action saw Djan and Tan Tat Wei bulldoze their way to the finals. The former eliminated Lee Kim Wan and Fanga Dan easily, while TTW’s route included wins over Thai pretty boy Davide and Indonesia’s Rhenadi. Goodyear’s Fanga Dan was third. To be honest, the final wasn’t thrilling at all after what we’ve seen before – Djan took the opportunity to show his class and skill, and had an easy outing against his teammate. No need for One More Time, the winner was clear. It’s back to back wins for Djan after his success in last December’s Formula Drift Malaysia; the Singaporean crowd know and love him too as he won the same event here last year.

Will Djan’s dominance continue? Or will the others step up their game and give the Tandem Assasin a run for his money? The four-stop Formula Drift Asia series will be heading to Indonesia and Thailand after this, before ending in Malaysia. Enjoy the smoking hot tyres and ladies in the massive gallery below!

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