Right it’s straight back to Fuji Speedway now for a second dose of drift action from the D1 final, starting off with what has to be my favorite shot from the weekend. With professional drifting around the world having embarked on a power race, it’s at times so satisfying to see little lightweight drift cars that are still true to the original concept of a “drift car” battle it out with some of the monsters in the game. The H.D.O KP61 Starlet of Iwai-san packs 320 HP (which is a damn lot for a Starlet) against the 700+ HP of Tokita’s Crown Athlete. Tokita took the win but Iwai managed to stay right on his tail; a great duel.
Nomuken in his trusty Blitz R34 hasn’t been very competitive this season. He finished in 8th position at Fuji and in 6th position overall for the season. And it seems the RWD R35 GT-R Blitz have been working on for a few years now might never actually get used, so it looks like the R34 will have to do for 2012.
Minowa was feathering the throttle early in the morning while the track was still wet. It’s unbelievable the speeds they carry through the section at Fuji even in the wet!
Hirota didn’t manage to qualify for the tsuiso battles. He had plenty of speed and angle but his lines weren’t what the judges were looking for.
I had a quick look at Akinori Utsumi’s S15 while it was sitting in the pits during the driver’s meeting.
That HKS T04Z allows the stroked SR20 to develop a massive 580 HP!
Saito’s JZX100 looks really cool in the new Hankook colors but I kind of miss his red trademark livery! At least the interior and roll-cage are still red!
I spotted a familiar car while walking by the Blitz/Dunlop pits. The Scorch Racing Supra was due to participate in the drag exhibition that was being held at the same time as D1 on Fuji’s main straight.
If you are wondering what Under Suzuki gets up to when not working on his time attack S15 Silvia here is your answer. This guy lives and breathes modified cars!
And on the subject of drag racing…
…there were some pretty serious cars setting up at the bottom of the pits. Too bad they held the event at the same time as the D1 battles!
Not to worry though, there was plenty of action to be seen on the main track!
One of the best areas to check out some qualifying action from is always the entrance to the judged corner, just as the drivers throw the cars at an angle to enter the hairpin.
Seeing cars like Tezuka’s BNR32 fly by sideways at such high speeds is truly impressive. Talk about physics-defying!
The aim is to keep the car sliding wide along the outside of the corner entrance (remember D1 runs the course in reverse) and get on the power at the right moment as you aim for the apex. It’s tricky and not everyone gets it right.
When you nail the apex it’s all about powering out after that, chased by billowing clouds of tire smoke!
A lot of drivers are always out to vary their style, try new things, push the limits, go for crowd-pleasing rear-first entries like Kawabata and Saito. Others prefer to keep things under control and safe, and that’s precisely how Imamura has managed to stay on top all of these years. He is consistent and never takes risks and combining this with a superb car built by Auto Produce Boss is the recipe for success.
However, this year it was all going to be decided at this round in Fuji, both Saito and Imamura within reach of the 2011 Championship. It was all set to be a great competition, maybe to be contested right at the final, but an unexpected mistake by Saito in his first battle of the second stage against Suenaga ended all hopes. Imamura did it again. D1 champion for the fourth time and three years in a row!
The battles however continued, as there were still plenty of points up for grabs for all the other drivers hoping to finish in a decent spot.
Kumakubo was doing great, but what looked like a broken oil pump pulley for the dry-sump lubrication system of his RB26 forced him to retire, allowing Masao Suenaga to move into the semi-finals.
Battle of the Skylines, RB26 vs RB25. Tezuka lost this one, and Nomura went on to see it off with Naoto Suenaga in the Evo IX. Suenaga took the win and moved onto the semi final against his younger brother.
Takahashi, aka Kunnyz winning his battle against Matsui in the first stage. Kunnyz has done incredibly well this year with his new Mark X, managing to finish the season in third place. He has got to be happy with that!
Stay tuned for the final part of the coverage and the final battles of the day.
-Dino Dalle Carbonare