Round 1 of Formula Drift Japan was held during the Japan Motor Games last July 11-12 at the Fuji International Speedway. Here’s a look on the drivers paddock, demo cars and a special Rotary 0nly meet. Enjoy the photos.
It may surprise you guys, but up until very recently I had never shot a professional drifting event in Japan. Sure, I’ve visited the Land of the Rising Sun dozens of times for the Tokyo Auto Salon and sportscar racing, but never a D1 Grand Prix event. Ironically though, my first taste of pro drift in this country was not at a D1GP round, but Formula Drift Japan held at Fuji Speedway a couple of weekends ago.
A few years ago I would never have imagined that a Formula Drift event would – or could – be held in Japan.
Formula DRIFT World Championship: Japan Round Results;
Masato Kawabata Wins at Fuji International Speedway
Long Beach, Calif. – July 13, 2015 – Formula DRIFT Japan presented by G-Shock entered Fuji International Speedway for the 5th Round of the inaugural Formula DRIFT World Championship. Masato Kawabata in the Team Toyo Tires Drift/Trust Racing Nissan 35RX GTR takes the event victory and Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis leads the Formula Drift World Championship with a second place finish.
Formula DRIFT Japan at Fuji Speedway was the first world championship round outside of the U.S. The break in the rainy weather treated fans to a great display of international drifting competition as 63 drivers from 8 nations battled to be at the top of the podium. Almost 300,000 Livestream viewers joined the action and tuned in from around the world.
“Last November we took a bold step to launch the Formula DRIFT World Championship and this round officially kicks off which drivers will be eligible,” says Jim Liaw, President of Formula DRIFT. “Japan is the birthplace of drifting and it’s fitting to start the first international round where it all started.”
The event was challenging as many drivers who have never competed against each other matched up for the first time on this seemingly simple but very technical course. The semi-finals pitted Tadahiro Fukada in his RC-ART Dreamteam with Falken Toyota Mark II against Aurimas Bakchis in his ARK Performance / Feal Suspension / Nitto Tire Hyundai Genesis Coupe with Bakchis edging out Fukada to head into the finals. Number 1 qualifier Masato Kawabata in his Team Toyo Tire Drift / Trust Racing Nissan 35RX GTR defeated Masao Suenaga in his RE Amemiya Mazda RX-7 to face Bakchis in the finals. The final head-to-head battle between Bakchis and Kawabata came to an early end as Bakchis’s motor gave on the second run and was not able to maintain drift. This gave Kawabata his perfect weekend by qualifying 1st and winning the competition.
“It felt really good to compete and be successful against foreign drivers that I have never driven against before,” stated Masato Kawabata, winner for Formula DRIFT Japan. “I was provided with a great car that did not have any troubles all weekend and drove comfortably. I would love to compete more internationally. The world be ready, I am coming.”
The 2015 Formula DRIFT season will continue to Round 5: Throwdown on July 24-25, 2015 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. For more information visit: www.formuladrift.com and find Formula DRIFT on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Tune into Formula DRIFT on CBS Sports and check your local listings for airtimes.
Formula DRIFT Japan: Fuji International Speedway Event Results
|1. Kawabata, Masato||Team Toyo Tires Drift / Trust Racing Nissan 35RX GTR||Winner|
|2. Bakchis, Aurimas “Odi”||ARK Performance / Feal Suspension / Nitto Tire Hyundai Genesis Coupe||2nd Place|
|3. Fukada, Tadahiro||RC-ART Dreamteam with Falken Toyota Mark II||3rd Place|
2015 Formula DRIFT World Championship Standings After One Round
|1. Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis||ARK Performance / Feal Suspension / Nitto Tire Hyundai Genesis Coup||358.00 Points|
|2. Aasbo, Fredric||RS-R Japan / Toyota GT86 NZ6||320.00 Points|
|3. Field, Matt||Drift Cave Motorsports / Toyota Chaser JZX100||210.00 Points|
|4. Yokoi, Masashi||D-MAX Racing with Yokohama / Nissan Silvia S15||187.00 Points|
|5. Kearney, Dean||Oracle Lighting / Achilles Motorsports / Nissan 180SX S13||153.00 Points|
|6. Saito, Daigo||Fat Five Racing / Lexus SC430||139.00 Points|
|7. Nishida, Robbie||Team FNATZ x LB Works with ATR Radial / Nissan Skyline GTR||125.00 Points|
|8. Ng, Charles||SoGun Motorsports / Mitsubishi Evo||122.00 Points|
|9. Whiddett, Mike||Team Magic / Mazda RX7 FD3S||72.00 Points|