Well round 1 of the D1GP USA tour has come and gone, and to no surprise left two of the six competing Japanese drivers atop the podium. Last year’s champion Daigo Saito came in first place with Nobushige Kumakubo coming is second. But the real news comes from the American drifter Forrest Wang showing the rest of the field how it’s done drifting his way to a third place finish in Anaheim.
The next round of D1GP USA action will take place at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida at the end of the month on May 30. Don’t miss out.
With the first round of the 2009 D1GP USA series less than a week away the officials at D1 have confirmed the Japanese professionals that will be loading their machines onto freighters and packing their racing suits for the first round of stateside competition in Anaheim on May 2nd.
The drivers confirmed for the 2009 D1GP series are former professional drift champions Daigo Saito (2008) and Nobushige Kumakubo (2006). Saito will be competing in his 800 HP four door Toyota Chaser, and unfortunately for diamond star fans Kumakubo will leave his JUN powered rear wheel drive EVO X in Japan and instead compete in the Team Orange Subaru WRX. D1 veteran and Vertex owner Takahiro Ueno will compete in his beloved twin turbo Toyota Soarer, better known as a Lexus SC300 here in the U.S. Toshiki Yoshioka will not be driving his latest generation Lexus SC430 and instead has found a ride in the Driftspeed S15 Nissan Silvia. Providing comic relief in the pits will be the “Monkey Man” Ken Nomura piloting his longtime favorite four-door R34 Nissan Skyline. New to competition but not to the sport, Daijiro Inada the founder of the D1GP will suit up to compete in Anaheim.
Takahioro Ueno is another one of the senior drifters competing in the D1GP professional drifting championship. Ueno has taken his love for the Toyota Soarer (Lexus SC300 in America) very seriously. In 1996 he founded the tuning shop Car Make T&E, owners of Vertex Aero parts. Using his Soarer as a test bed for the company’s body kits he uses the D1 competition to showcase the simplistic and elegant designs they create. He has entered the same model Toyota in every round of D1 competition since he began drifting professionally in 2001. Ueno had great success in his debut year, winning round 4 at Ebisu and finishing 3rd in the overall point’s championship. Unfortunately he has not been able to recapture his original success but devoted to the JZZ 30 chassis he is back competing in the same red Toyota Soarer for the 2009 D1GP Championship.
The Japanese drifter Yoichi Imamura has competed in the D1GP professional drifting league since it began back in 2000. He originally competed in a favorite of drifters around the world, a lightweight Toyota AE86. In 2002 he began competing for Apex’i and ran the first three round of the season in a turbocharged Toyota Altezza before switching makes in favor of an FD Mazda RX-7. After a year of getting the rotary powered drift machine dialed in Imamura was able to win the 2003 D1GP Championship.
You would think that for the founder of the D1GP professional drifting series sliding a car sideways would be second nature. Given a quick tutorial by the "Monkey Man" Ken Nomura, Option Video and D1 pioneer Daijiro Inada gives drifting this S13 Silva a shot. As the video proves, drifting ain’t easy.
Ken Nomura may be one of the oldest drifters hanging around the D1 paddock, but that doesn’t mean he is a step behind the competition in this youth oriented competition. Nomura made his professional drifting debut back in 2001 and has been piloting the same Blitz sponsored Nissan Skyline ever since. Unlike most drifters that prefer lightweight agile machines, Nomuken (as he is also known) prefers to celebrate the larger four-door skyline and is best known for his big smoke technique and comedic antics. He is also the reason why the aftermarket parts manufacturer Greddy made a high performance intake manifold for Nissan’s RB25 engine.
The Japanese drifter Nobushige Kumakubo is praised for his efforts behind the wheel as well as his contributions to the sport and is considered a pioneer of drifting. Kumakubu was fortunate enough to inherit a large parcel of land in the Fukushima countryside where he gave back to the drifting community by constructing the acclaimed Ebisu Circuit. Aside from being a track owner he is also the founder of Team Orange, one of the most successful drifting teams in D1 history. He also founded Big X, a motorsport spectable that combines drifting with freestyle motocross, supermoto and other extreme automotive activities.
Drifting is a difficult motorsport to master, after initiating the drift with either a pull of the handbrake or a drivetrain shocking clutch kick with you are then charged with delicately balancing the sideways sliding machine. Everyone’s favorite racing driver turned television host Tiff Needell from Fifth Gear tried his hand at drifting a Toyota Soarer (read Lexus SC300) at the inaugural D1GP event in the UK. Check out the video to see how he did.