The 2010 Japanese professional drift season has officially opened! The D1 Grand Prix championship got under way today in Odaiba, at the much anticipated Tokyo Drift event, which seemed to have brought in record numbers of spectators. As I write this I’m already getting ready for tomorrow’s All Star exhibition, which will be focused towards entertainment rather than competition. Before we get into any detail on the day’s competition let’s first take a short look at what was going on in the paddock and make-shift track in Odaiba!
New cars, new liveries, upgraded engines and new drivers were the call of the day. Manabu Orido is now back in a Supra after the poor performance of the Aristo last year. The Supra, pictured in the opening shot, runs the motor from the big JZS161, rebuilt and running a Turbonetics turbine for more power, now said to be in the region of 700 HP. He didn’t do too badly today and at one point I really got a glimpse of the old Max Orido during a near perfect pass. I’m sure 2010 will be a better year for the notorious GT driver!
Tokita’s Zero Crown was on some hot Weds SA-55M wheels with the inside of the thin spokes painted in electric blue, matching the Goodyear colors.
There were reminders everywhere in the paddock and pits mourning the tragic passing of Atsushi Kuroi. His D1 car was part of a memorial area that the D1 guys had put together, where fans could drop off flowers and leave messages to him.
He will never be forgotten, that’s for sure.
The memorial was filled with pictures of him from his various seasons in D1…
…highlighting both his career in D1 and his unique style.
Back to the action and Nomuken’s Blitz Skyline was wearing very curious gold coloring, kind of made it look like a chocolate bar! Will we ever see the monkey man drive another car other than his ER34? Come on Blitz, give him the R35 GT-R to play around with;)
The day was truly action-packed with plenty of entertainment to keep the crowds happy. These are the female drivers from the Venus Challenge giving an exhibition run to mark the official opening of the D1 Ladies League, which will join the D1 Street Legal and Divisional rounds in creating an even bigger and widespread drifting community across the country.
I spotted this modded Hyundai Genesis in the Drift Tengoku area of the paddock, still running Korean plates. I will have to find out more on this car as it looked pretty hot, especially with a GReddy high-mount turbo conversion hiding under the hood.
I spotted Kazama-san from Kazama Auto’s parking up in the pits. His crazy 2JZ-powered Lexus IS has gone through a full-body itasha conversion, wearing illustrations from the popular Gin-tama manga.
It was purely done to promote the Tokyo Drift event. What a crazy looking machine!
Other surprises today included the participation of no less than four gaijin drivers. Federico Sceriffo was back from Italy driving Kuma’s old JUN-built Impreza, while Samuel Hübinette was behind the wheel of Ueno’s old Soarer. Forrest Wang and Mike Pollard were also over from the US, their first time behind the wheel of right hand drive machines. Hübinette managed to make it into the Best 16.
Droo-P with Up Garage had a cool new matte gray/yellow livery going! The SC430 is now driven by Kazuya Matsukawa who was not having the best of days.
The warmer spring temperatures mean you no longer see race queens walking around in long jackets, attracting far more attention than the drivers!
You may notice an omission from this line up. Tanaka of Team Orange has officially decided to take the year out as Suenaga-san was telling me today. The team is now looking for a new driver to join the line-up, but there won’t be more info on that quite yet.
Takayama’s R-Magic FD looking stunning as ever.
I tried my best to get pictures like these so you guys can really appreciate the crazy backdrop of this first D1 round. The Odaiba area, built on reclaimed land, has some of the most futuristic buildings in Tokyo like the weird Fuji Television HQ one on the left.
Here is Koguchi in action. Like every year in Odaiba all cars need to run downward-facing exhausts to keep nasty gasses away from the crowds.
The boss checking out the practice run. That is one scary look!
Spotted this cool high-speed camera, capable of filming at a very high frame rate. The footage was sometimes showed on the big screen and was simply stunning.
Droo-P will be working very hard after this weekend as the spotless Soarer ended up…
…like this during Matsukawa’s run against Max Orido. Orido freaked out after the crash and got out of the car to check out the damage to his Supra! Hibino’s AE86 wasn’t looking too hot by the end of the day either after a brush with a misaligned concrete barrier ripped off half of his rear end.
Suenaga junior will be using the RE-Amemiya/M7 FD for a few more rounds before swapping over to the custom built RX-8 we saw at the Tokyo Auto Salon.
See what I mean? Plenty of entertainment to go around. I don’t know what was funnier, the stoppies performed by the “Jack Knifer” or the passenger inside smacking his head on the windscreen!
2009 D1 Champion Imamura was on top form, his now M7 sponsored Boss S15 performing faultlessly throughout the day.
He ended up taking the win for this first round, starting the 2010 season just like he ended the previous one, on the podium!
Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at all the action from Odaiba as well as a walk-around through the pits and paddock to check out some of the behind the scenes going ons!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare