Time now to jump right into the action from the third round of the G1 Grand Prix. Even though Daigo Saito didn't participate in the competition, as the name suggests you need to be a foreigner or gaijin to qualify (plus having a D1 champion in the line up would have been a little unfair), he did join in the practice session for a few laps to put his new LS1-powered RPS13 through its paces. This sound coming from the straight and unsilenced exhaust was incredible.
Watching all the drivers out there practicing and getting used to their cars, it quickly became obvious that the skill level was pretty high. A lot of the guys that had participated in the WDSC Nations Cup the previous day also joined in the G1, a perfect opportunity to not only do some more drifting but win some pretty cool prizes. This S13 was driven by Lithuanian driver Tadas Luckaitis, an ex Garage Ash demo car.
The starts & stripes treatment to Mike Pollard's car probably made it the most easily-recognizable car on track! Here he is nailing the apex at the bottom of the Nishi hill.
Kevin from France felt right at home in his D1 Street Legal S15, one of the most powerful cars on the day.
Wade Zummeren was killing it with his Bee-R R32, nailing most corners and transitions. Too bad the car wasn't fitted with the famous Bee-R limiter for some additional aural entertainment.
Representing France was also first-time G1-entrant Julien Maynard, who was driving this white Skyline…
…along with the famous JC Pepino of AutoWorks magazine in his black S14.
The two Frenchmen proved that drifters don't need to wear scruffy oily overalls. They turned on the French charm with these outfits. They had stashed garlic, pâté and a few sticks of baguette bread in their pits. I'm sure they had a bottle of red wine in there too, but they weren't sharing!
Leigh Pidwell has the kind of style that keeps the crows following his runs from beginning to end. He combines aggression with plenty of control, topped with a very heavy dose of the throttle.
At one point Christian Pickering's S13 snapped a steering knuckle and had to be rescued from the track by a forklift. Chris was obviously concerned about his very special car…
…but in the end no damage was done during the transportation back to the pits and the knuckle was welded up and fixed in no time.
Andy Gray wasn't feeling comfortable behind the wheel of his new RPS13…
…so swapped into his battle-scarred JXZ90, a car we will be taking a closer look at very soon.
Russian driver Evgeny Ruzheinikov seemed to be having a blast behind the wheel of his C34 Laurel, shooting down the hill at impressive speeds.
Pro Aussie driver Chris DeJager in action. Chris spends most days practicing and honing his skills at Ebisu; living the life as they say!
The practice eventually gave way to the qualifying runs were drivers were asked to drive a continuous set of laps while they were being assessed.
Here is Round 2 G1 winner Leighton Fine behind the wheel of his trusty JZX90.
Brodie Moore showing off his Blitz front mount intercooler.
Swedes Mikael Svensson and Tony Pattersson were sharing this S13 we saw in the pits in the Paddock post.
Kevin was trying to carry as much speed as possible down the hill and into the right to left transition that follows…and in the process almost took me out. It probably looked closer than it really was but I swiftly made a change of location after his spin.
Pollard hard on the power.
Once the judges had a chance to see everyone in action it was back to the meeting room where the top 16 drivers of the pro class…
…picked numbers out of a ballot box to see who they would end up going against.
Next up are the battles, so don't forget to check back to see who took the win for Round 3 and the 2010 G1 Championship title!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare