May 02, 2009, Anaheim, CA – After a 2 year hiatus, the U.S. shores were finally treated again to some of Japan’s finest drifting talents. A lot of anticipation built up around this event, as in its absence, many Americans jumped ship to the Formula D series to compete. Fortunately, D1GP did not disappoint, hosting numerous entertaining events in addition to the drifting itself. Among the highlights were a full on car show, as well as a surprise visit by the drivers of the Gumball 3000 (see previous article for coverage on the cars of Gumball).
The drift competition began with each driver doing 3 qualifying runs, which were judged based on speed, drift angle, and how close to each clipping point they were. The top 16 would then compete in tandem drifting competition, which are scored based on subjective measures. Unfortunately, Ken Nomura and his ever so awesome 4-door Skyline didn’t make the top 16 this time (why Nomuken, whyy!!!!!!). Interestingly, the top drivers seemed to be split between about half non-Japanese drivers, which I felt made for some interesting matchups.
One of the most impressive U.S. drivers had to be Forrest Wang in his S14 240SX , who actually managed to beat out Team Orange’s Kazuhiro Tanaka (driving a GC8 Subaru Impreza) in the tandem competition, and moved on to the top 4. In the end, he faced off against the other Team Orange favorite, Nobushige Kumakubo, which was probably the most intense part of the competition. After two “one more time’s,” Kumakubo edged out Wang with constant pressure and consistent driving. The final run went down between Kumakubo and Daigo Saito in his Toyota Chaser, who went on to win this first round of the D1GP.
Despite a few minor quirks, the return of D1GP was well received and as exciting and memorable as it used to be. Next time, let us photographers out on the track like you used to in Irwindale!!!
As usual, a gallery of cars and action after the jump!