There was quite a bit of controversy at the third round of the D1GP USA tour in Chicago back on August 1st, apparently there was a bit of confusion between Team Orange’s driver Kazuhiro Tanaka who was beaten by the rising American star Forest Wang. The Japanese professional drifter thought that a One More Time was in order but the judges felt otherwise. The worst part of all is that a lack of communication between the driver and the D1 official at the starting line, most likely due to a translation issue.
In a sport where the prize money in no way justifies the competition, the majority of these extreme athletes are out there on the track because they have something more important than money pushing them forward, their egos. The last thing that a professional athlete traveling across the Pacific wants is to be defeated by an amateur, especially if they are an American. By standing in the way of the man from Japan, the course worker should have known that no matter how many all access passes he is wearing around his neck the man in front of him is in one of the most professional cars in the event, and he didn’t get in that ride overnight.
Tanaka was apparently revving the engine of his Subaru and gently nudging the track official out of the way with the orange car’s front bumper. During the protest from the official one of the Team Orange mechanics attempted to lower the man’s hands for him and in coming into contact with the D1 representative Tanaka was disqualified.
See PRESS RELEASE below for details on fine
Continued after the jump with press release and video.
The real bad news began when the Team Orange captain Nobushige Kumakubo refused to line up against Mr. Wang because of the prior controversy where his teammate was disqualified and resulted in fines totaling $17,500. After about 40 minutes of the orange car failing to show up to the line Wang was allowed to advance directly into the finals in a match made for Nissan enthusiasts pitting the American’s turbocharged S14 against Nomuken ’s 4 door R34 Skyline. The crowd felt that the proceedings were a bit of proverbial b.s. and made their thoughts known vocally. Amidst the chanting, the monkey man himself almost didn’t run, waiting over 20 minutes to get to the starting line until the rowdy crowd had calmed down.
It was a little whack that Kumakubo didn’t run. Perhaps as the man who writes the checks, he knew better than to go out there and face an opponent where some bad blood would lead to some expensive damage. Perhaps it was an inside conspiracy in order to set up the internationally diverse podium with a japanese flag on top , followed by the star spangled banner in second and a Swede in third.
If the way that the D1 has handled themselves so far is any indication of the way that the track worker handled the situation, we can’t blame Team Orange for their actions.
D1GP Chicago Top 8 thru the Finals
Dear D1GP USA Fans,
This is D1GP USA’s Official Statement regarding the events that transpired at the Chicago D1 Grand Prix event.
In the case of Driver conduct at the event there were several instances that involved Team Orange. We feel these instances were boiling over from the Anaheim event where Forrest Wang had beaten Tanaka and fought a hard battle against Kumakubo that resulted ultimately in Kumakubo’s victory over Wang. In Chicago, Wang and Tanaka were paired up again with Kumakubo once again waiting in the wings.
I am sure, as anticipated as this battle was for the crowd, it was maybe more anticipated by the drivers. There was a lot of pride on the line. After Wang and Tanaka’s first tandem battle there was a slight advantage given to Wang. The drivers reversed positions and Forrest got a huge lead from the start with Tanaka letting off the gas about 50 feet after the start. Wang realized this mid course and also ceased. There was some confusion in the tower as to what had happened. We consulted with the race starter who said that both cars started at the same time. We then went to the replay, however the replay would only give us the seconds after the actual start. Team Orange called foul as they did not feel they received the proper signal from the starter. After much debate it was determined that there would be a re-start of the original tandem battle as both drivers ceased.
This is where the confusion comes in. Apparently Team Orange did not know that we called a re-start and believed we had called for a OMT. Possibly this was a language barrier issue. We are not sure. After the re-started run, it was a clear victory for Wang, but Tanaka went back to the starting line expecting to run again. Team Orange was informed of the Wang victory and this is where the infractions begin.
One of our pit workers was standing in front of Tanaka’s car with his arm out and hand up signaling to him to not move forward trying to get Tanaka to turn around and go back to his pit position. It was about this time Tanaka was informed of the Wang victory. Believing that the original call the run earlier was for a OMT, Tanaka and Team Orange went berserk. Tanaka pressed his car against the course workers leg and proceeded to continually rev his engine. Team Orange’s mechanic then slapped the course workers arm (the course worker had it up signaling Tanaka to not move forward) in an attempt to get him to put his arm down. This slap of the course workers arm was repeated no less than 3 times before the race starter told his course worker to get out of the way. At this time Tanaka hit the gas and performed a wheel spin (burnout) thus spinning the car around in obvious defiance over the decision by the judges and his team’s misunderstanding. As he did this he reached out of the car and gave everyone an obscene gesture, to make matters worse, as he was doing this he also clipped our race starter’s knee with his rear bumper and ran over his foot. This reckless act required the EMT’s to assist our starter with his injuries.
Immediately following, Kumakubo retired in protest over the Tanaka loss. As the now forfeit Kumakubo was supposed to go up against Wang, Wang then immediately advanced into the final round against Nomura. With Kumakubo retired and Tanaka disqualified (due to his actions), Hokkanen was awarded 3rd place and we went on with the Championship battle between Nomura and Wang. Nomura beat Wang in the Championship battle.
The infractions by Team Orange include, but are not limited to:
D1GP USA Rulebook Re: Conduct
· Refusing to cooperate with, interfering with, or obstructing the action of the Officials, Competition Director or others in the performance of their duties.
Infractions by Team Orange:
Tanaka not listening to course officials who directed him to hold his position on course and ordering him to turn around and go back to the pits thus delaying the competition (also considered unsportsmanlike).
Tanaka placing his car firmly against course officials leg and revving engine in defiance of course officials direction (also considered unsportsmanlike)
Team Orange Mechanic slapping the arm of the course official repeatedly in an attempt to defy the course officials direction and the judgment of the officials (also considered unsportsmanlike)
D1GP USA Rulebook Re: Conduct
Public criticism of the event or the series, its Officials or Sponsors
Infractions by Kumakubo and Tanaka:
Blog’s portraying the series and it’s officials in a negative light over their loss (this could also be considered unsportsmanlike)
D1GP USA Rulebook Re: Breach of Rules
Line item re: dangerous or reckless driving
Infraction by Tanaka:
Performing an illegal wheel spin in the starting area which resulted in the starter being injured (this could also be considered unsportsmanlike)
D1GP USA Rulebook Re: Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Line Item as defined under Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Infractions by Team Orange:
All of the above mentioned including Kumakubo’s retiring in protest
My ruling in this matter is as follows:
D1GP USA’s mission in 2009 was to produce the most unbiased and fair competition possible. It is this mission that allows us to be blind to such factors as nationality, experience, celebrity or the difference between a heavily sponsored team or privateer. It is our intention rather to see every driver on the same level.
We understand that Team Orange is the most famous drift team in the world and its drivers are regarded as some of the best drivers there are. However that does not give them the right to expect to be treated differently and IT does not give them the right to act the way they did at this event. Therefore the following penalties are imposed:
The Penalties in this matter are as follows:
Kazuhiro Tanaka – Fine of $10,000 & loss of series points & suspension for the rest of the D1GP USA season.
Nobushige Kumakubo – Fine of $5,000 & loss of event points in Chicago
Team Orange – As a result of the team mechanic’s actions, an additional $2,500 fine
There have also many been many rumors surfacing regarding Ken Nomura’s conduct at the Chicago event. Thus far our investigation into the matter is not complete. We will continue to investigate and make a ruling later next week.
President D1GP USA