The Final Fight!

Last weekend was the final round of Formula Drift Asia 2012 held at JIEXPO Jakarta, Indonesia. As you know we started the LS swap on to our 2012 S-chassis right after Singapore in preparation for Formula Drift Indonesia. Its been a 2 years since we started this program. It wasn’t an easy swap to begin with and we did have a lot of issues during the 4 test sessions we had at Speed City KL prior to Jakarta. Thanks to the team, we ironed out most of the technical issues and confident we had a reliable & competitive car for the final round.

The week started pretty early with the official launch of DRIVE M7 Energy Drink for the Indonesian market. It was a great event supported by Team DRIVE M7 USA. Daijiro Yoshihara & Odi Backhis joined us to make the launch event successful.

Here’s a poster compiling all the activities we have done with DRIVE M7 throughout the 2012 season. It has been a great year for the DRIVE M7 team and myself.

Friday was the official start of the Formula Drift Indonesia weekend. It kicked off with a press conference at the track with selected drivers from the series. It was great to see a fair share of international drivers participating this year. Manabu Orido couldn’t make it out due to his Super GT commitments and Fredric Aasbo step in to drive the iconic RSR Supra. The last time we met on track was at Formula Drift Qatar 2011.

We missed out on media rides and the 360BOL team drift practice sessions on Friday afternoon as our car did not arrive till late evening. We had issues all week regarding shipping of our car and equipment to Indonesia. I won’t go into the details, but we were lucky the car arrived in one piece. Better late than sorry. So the crew spent Friday evening preparing the car for the weekend.

I was excited and nervous during official practice as it was the first time driving the car with the new powerplant. It was information overload for both the team & myself as we were constantly making setup changes and me trying to adapt my driving style to suit the new characteristics of the car. I was pretty comfortable by the end of the session and we had an ok setup which would to take us through the weekend.

I knew I had to collect as much points as possible to secure my 2nd place in the championship. Daigo Saito already built a huge gap in points from winning the first 2 rounds of the series. It was important for us to qualify at the top for the extra points stretching our lead from 3rd. We secured 90 points at the first round of qualifying, 3rd position behind Daigo & Robbie. We took it a notch higher in our 2nd qualifying lap with 93 points putting us in 1st till Daigo put out a 94 on his final run. Whatever it is, objective was met. We got our extra points and we sit on the opposite side of the chart from Daigo. We’re in a good position for tandem on Sunday.

Next up was the 360BOL Team Drift event. I was paired up with Daigo Saito. We represented Team DRIVE M7. Unfortunately I had to miss out of practice session on Friday as the car was still stuck at the port.

So we had a quick discussion before the event and I left it to Daigo to come up with the sequence. He wanted a pass at every corner which was a pretty big request especially when we didn’t practice it at all. I had a correction on our first run but we killed it on our 2nd run scoring 9.5 out of 10.

DriftPac organized a small award ceremony/party for all the team members & drivers on Saturday night and I was awarded “Pioneer of Drift” in South East Asia for my contribution to drifting since the inception of Formula Drift Asia back in 2008. This is a very special award for me as some of you would know the amount of time and dedication I have put in to this sport since 2003. Thank you everyone!

Sunday started off wet! Practice was scheduled for 10am but was cancelled due to heavy rain. It was crazy. The pit & track area was flooded. I was stuck on top of my car for a good hour. The rain stopped at 11am and the aftermath was pretty insane. Half the track was pretty much under water due to poor drainage. So the judges decided to modify the track layout to avoid the flooded areas. We ended up with a much smaller and shorter course.

We were back to square one on setup during the wet practice session. Again making changes every lap we were out on track. I’ve never worked so hard at a comp before. Usually we have a well sorted car and only make minor changes to suit the track layout etc. ¬†We again ended up with a setup I was comfortable with and set for competition.

We were up against Amandio in Top 16 who we took out pretty easy. Next up was Rio Saputro who was my contender for 2nd spot in the championship. We had an advantage on my lead run and I managed to put pressure on him during my chase run which saw us through to Top 4.

I was up against Robbie Nishida. We took him out at Top 16 in Malaysia, he then took us out at Top 8 in Singapore. So I was pretty nervous. Robbie was killing it all weekend so I knew he would be a contender. Very consistent and smooth.

I drove hard on my lead run trying to maximize angle and grip. He was having a tough time chasing and hit the 2nd wall. I got the heads up from my spotter and went for the kill on my chase run.

Now for the finals with DAIGO SAITO. He beat me once at Malaysia and I knew that the chances of him doing it again was very high. I knew i had a good car for the weekend but was it good enough to beat him. The lights turned green and we were off. Again he left me for dead at the launch! But this time the gap was way smaller and i could catch up to his door by turn 1 and stuck to him all the way to the finish.

On my lead run i managed to pull a slight gap after turn one right up to the finish line. But i guess it wasn’t enough for the judges to call a OMT. Anyway, it was a great race. We’ve learnt a lot about the car. We have identified the strong & weak points and know how to move forward with our build. We are already starting fabrication work to further enhance our car for next season.

We took home 3 trophies + 1 award last weekend. Formula Drift Asia Championship 1st Runner-up, Formula Drift Indonesia 1st Runner-up, 360BOL Team Drift Champion & the “Pioneer of Drift” award by Drift Pac.

I would like to thank my sponsors for a great 2012 season. we couldn’t have done it without you:












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