I have a few more posts to go before I wrap up my blowout of Auto Salon coverage, and one of things I haven't covered yet are the D1GP demo runs held outside the Makuhari Messe all weekend long. They first started the D1 exhibition show last year, and judging by the huge crowd of people standing 10-deep trying to get a peek at the action, it's pretty darn popular. Since it was just an exhibition, there isn't a whole lot to report here, but it still makes a nice addition to the show (as long as you bundle up when you leave the warmth of the indoor exhibit halls).
All the familiar faces from D1 were there. Throughout the weekend there were some informal "mini-competitions", as well as standard demo runs done by the different drivers.
The makeshift course was very small, making even the Odaiba course look huge by comparison. Obviously it wasn't the best suited for the 500+ hp D1 machines, but at least you could see the whole course from one place. Mana-P and Tsuchiya handled the scoring with the assistance of Daijiro Inada and '08 champ Daigo Saito, who appeared as a guest judge.
The real highlight of the event was seeing Kumakubo's new Evo X in action. The car looks great, and Kuma even made it into the semi-final during Saturday morning's competition. The tiny parking lot course wasn't the most ideal place demonstrate the new Evo's capabilities, but it was enough build some excitement for the upcoming season.
Here's a shot from the rear. I think the Evo X's body lends itself well to the Team Orange treatment.
I'm thinking Youichi Imamura in the AP Boss S15 will be one to watch in 2009, after a tight race for the championship last year.
Here we see Kawabata and Tezuka battling each other in their Nissans. The course may have been slow, but the tight area made sure the cars stayed close to each other during tandem runs.
Some might have been expecting to see Takahiro Ueno's BMW out there, but instead he brought out the ole' Soarer for a curtain call.
It seems like Nomuken's ER34 Skyline gets a slight makeover every season. Here's the '09 edition of the car with new graphics. Auto Salon is a busy time for people like Nomuken, who have a lot of work to do with their sponsors, as well as their own shops and projects.
Since his Lexus SC430 was inside on display in the Yokohma booth, Toshiking used his trusty AE86 for the D1 event. It was nice to see this car on the track again.
Masao Suenaga used the street legal RX7 for this event. Here he is alongside Kuma's Evo X. Talk about two completely different body shapes…
The final on Saturday morning came down to Suenaga and Kawabata. It was close, but the judges voted in Kawabata's favor in the end.
I would have liked to spend more time shooting the D1 events over the weekend, but there is just tooooo much to cover at Tokyo Auto Salon.