Daigo Saito emerges champion as the cream rises to the top
Team Spark Motorsports wins first Team Championship trophy at VIP Formula Drift Singapore 2011 Presented by Achilles Radial
Singapore, 12 June 2011 – Daigo Saito of Team Spark Motorsports joined the pantheon of champions, becoming only the third driver to take the much-coveted crown of the fourth edition of VIP Formula Drift Singapore 2011 Presented by Achilles Radial at the F1 Pit Building today.
It was a double victory for the team, with the Japanese champion and third-place winner Ken Gushi (USA) propelling Team Spark Motorsports’s charge to take home the inaugural Team Championship trophy with 183 points. Singapore is the first formula drift championship in the world to introduce the award for the best team performance.
Following two days of intense competition and volatile weather, Daigo showed consistency and the highest level of precision and car control, conquering the challenging track. Going neck-to-neck with Thai Saranon Pornpatanarak of Team M150 in the final face-off, the Japanese set the tone in the first tandem battle, chasing Saranon and staying mere inches from the Thai – drawing a huge round of applause from the crowd. In the second run, Daigo sped ahead to create an impossible gap for Saranon to match his competitor’s move, securing his first victory in Singapore with aplomb.
Recounting the competition, Daigo said, “Happy for the win as it is the first leg of the series, and I am happy to have gotten off to such a great start. It is amazing to be racing on an F1 circuit and the crowd really got behind Formula Drift. It was an encouraging victory, considering that none of them have competed in Singapore before. I am planning on keeping up my performance for the whole series this year with the Spark Motorsport team.”
The Thai ace driver will be hoping to carry this form into the remaining rounds of the Formula Drift Asia Championship, which will continue on to Indonesia, Thailand and finishing the year off in Malaysia. Saranon rued his chance missing out on the top prize, and said, “I came here expecting to be on the podium and am happy with my position in the race. To lose to someone like Daigo who is usually racing in D1 and competing against the best in the world is not so bad.”
Gushi won the final place on the podium with a dominating performance over Malaysian Ivan Lau from LTM Bridgestone. Said Gushi, “Formula Drift Asia is a phenomenal series, with highly skilled and competitive drivers, I hope to get more chances to compete against them and raise my own game in the car.”
Said Lau, “Ken had a slow start, and I came in too hot in the straight. I slowed down on the first clipping and missed a gear. I had to then upshift to fourth – that mistake cost me the third place today.”
Bright sunshine made for a welcome change from yesterday’s thunderstorms, as fans were once again treated to a world-class display of drifting prowess. With engines revving high and tyres burning furiously, the crowd had lots to cheer about as the tandem battles began in the morning. Unlike qualifying yesterday, which was based on the driver’s individual runs on track, today’s format was the tandem drift battles where drivers do two laps in tandem, each taking a turn to lead and fighting for the best score across two runs. The drivers were judged on their speed, style, and ability to maintain their drift angle for as long as possible. Battles are always tight and nail-biting, with chasing drivers pushing the limits and trying to better the lead driver.
Organised by ESPN STAR Sports Event Management Group, the Singapore event is the first of a four-leg series for Achilles Asian Drift Series which will be followed by events in Indonesia in October, Thailand in November and the year-end Grand Finale this December in Malaysia.
Please visit www.formuladriftasia.com for more details about the event.
Well, I am actually writing this latest entry as I am now back in LA after a 20 hour trek back across the Pacific from Singapore. I took quite a bit of video on the final day in Sing so I will be working on a small video blog that will hopefully encapsulate the competition and the dominant win by Malaysia’s Tenku Djan. Here are a few pics from our last day and a cool vid of our sound guy singing some GNR. This guy was pretty epic. He told us he was a lounge singer so of course we were provoking him to belt out some choons all day. Guy had a wicked good voice.
Till next time..
In collaboration with Red Bull, the PTT Achilles Drift Team now becomes Red Bull PTT Achilles Drift Team, with leading drifter Kiki Sak Nana. Looks like Red Bull Thailand is stepping it up with Kiki and Oat to chase the inaugural Formula Drift Asia Championship.