D1GP Tokyo Drift in Odaiba - final race of 2012

D1 Grand Prix drifting championship – “Tokio Drift", Odaiba – December 1rd

The D1 season has finally reached its crescendo as the final races of the championship took place on the Odaiba course last month. Despite already competing in Odaiba in the opening round, racers were faced with a new challenge this time around. A completely different layout was installed for this event. With the acceleration zones noticeably narrower, judgement had to be careful and precise to gain points on this course. The twisting tightness of the track meant there were plenty of talking points. Spin outs, wall hits, smoke screens provided for a high-octane event from beginning to end.

Final Qualifying Round

Held on the Friday, this qualifiying round turned into a fiercely fought contest between the top GP players. Last years champion, Yuki Tanaka was amongst the first racers out of the blocks and demonstrated why he’s a title winner with some decent lines. However, it wasn’t enough to lead the points table as he self-admittedly ‘lacked sharpness off the starting point.’ Instead, it was Akira Utsumi who topped the qualifying cut. Tearing through the course in his S15, he showcased some beautiful drifting skills under some heavy pressure, especially on that all-important first corner. 

With all our other Toyota representatives having already qualified from the previous two qualifying runs it was down to Ken Nomura to ensure the main event featured all four ‘86 players.

In a style-driven sport, the ability to please the crowd by producing the tightest power slides possible has always been an important asset. Nomura has this in abundance. Carving up the course with control and dexterity he managed a 7th place finish with a score of 98.53 harbouring big hopes for an even more impressive performance on the Saturday.

Final round qualifying results

 Pos.  No.  Driver  Car Tyre  Score

One

Six

Akira Utsumi 乃

S15

TY

99.83

Two

81

Kazuya Uta

RPS13

GY

99.43

Three

67

Yuki Tanaka Department

PS13

FD

99.17

Four

Eight

Masayoshi Tokita

GRS184

GY

98.63

Five

98

Daisuke Hasegawa

S15

HK

98.60

Six

88

Manabu Fujinaka

FD3S

YH

98.57

Seven

Three

Ken Nomura

ZN6

FK

98.53

Eight

Ninety

Shinji Minowa

JZX90

FK

98.43

Main Event

Sixteen racers made it through the three qualifying runs to battle it out in the ‘tsuiso’ style main event. This contest involved a series of chase-run drifts where the second car must follow the first cars drift while making improvements to it for extra points. Unlike the normal side-by-side battle, it doesn’t matter who gets to the finishing line first. Judges are instead focussed more on stylistic qualities. With the aid of an electronic GPS scoring device called a Drift Box, they accurately track the angle and speed of the drivers drift.

There wasn’t much style early on though in Saturday’s main event. Under cloudy conditions, the low surface temperature caused by the morning mist was proving to be a troublesome obstacle for many of the racers. Front tyre grip was the main issue, with some competitors drawing too close towards the first corner and spinning out. The tyres weren’t warming up to a temperature at which to exert enough grip on the surface so crashes were frequent in the first run of battles

The second run provided a more tempered display of drifting. Main man Nobuteru Taniguchi floated around the course in his HKS modified Toyota 86, carving some tasty drifts and quickly zipping to the top of the leader board. Even Daigo Saito couldnt catch him and was eliminated in the duel. Tangiguchi eventually finished 3rd Akira Utsumi 2nd and Naoto Suenaga won the race.

Photo: Daigo Saito loses to Nobuteru Taniguchi

UPDATE: HKS Toyota 86 / Nobuteru Taniguchi video:

Other Toyota representatives performed well enough but didn’t quite have enough firepower to challenge for the top spots. Tetsuya Hibino in his distinctive fluorescent Toyota 86 created by the team at Up Garage could only manage 9th place whilst hero of the qualifiers, Ken Nomura finished down in 16th.



Yokohoma sponsored driver Orida ‘Max’ Manabu riding his 2URGSE V8 Toyota 86, finished lowest in 24th place.

Final results

 Pos.  No. Driver  Car

 Tyre

 Score

1

9

Naoto Suenaga

CZ4A

YH

99.53

2

6

Akira Utsumi

S15

TY

99.63

3

87

Nobuteru Taniguchi

ZN6

YH

99.30

4

15

Tatsuya Sakuma

S15

TY

99.50

5

2

Daigo Saito

JZX100

ATR

99.27

6

77

Kenji Takayama

FD3S

FD

99.27

7

92

Kuniaki Takahashi

GRX130

GY

99.23

8

4

Nobushige Kumakubo

C33

YH

99.10

9

86

Tetsuya Hibino

ZN6

FK

99.17

10

67

Yuki Tanaka

PS13

FD

99.10

11

11

Youichi Imamura

S15

FK

98.90

12

99

Kazuya Matsukawa

AE85

FK

98.87

13

88

Manabu Fujinaka

FD3S

YH

98.83

14

81

Kazuya Uta

RPS13

GY

98.77

15

1

Yoshinori Koguchi

S15

FK

98.73

16

3

Ken Nomura

ZN6

FK

98.60

17

7

Masao Suenaga

SE3P

YH

98.50

18

13

Masato Kawabata

RPS13

TY

98.50

19

90

Shinji Minowa

JZX90

FK

98.17

20

8

Masayoshi Tokita

GRS184

GY

98.03

21

78

Takahiro Ueno

E92

YH

97.90

22

98

Daisuke Hasegawa

S15

HK

97.63

23

34

Tsuyoshi Tezuka

BNR34

GY

68.33

24

25

Manabu Orido

ZN6

YH

59.67

There was however a moment to saviour for one man in particular, Kuniaki Takahasi who was crowned overall series champion for the singles. FD3S driver, Kenji Takayama came second and C33 racer Nobushige Kumakubo filled the last spot on the podium.

Overall season leaders after the last race - Takahashi 3rd, Daigo Saito 2nd and season victory goes to Kumakubo. From Toyota 86 drivers Tetsuya Hibino made to 5th position, Taniguchi 10th, and Orido Manabu in sixteenth place.

The event wasn’t all about the four-wheel action. Various shops and exhibition rooms lined the outside track presenting the hottest customised parts for modified cars. Carbon fibre and aluminium covered every surface in reach, as fans got the chance to have a closer look at how engineers make a drift car. Some Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ projects were shown to public like the Bee Racing BRZ and Toyota 86 made out of a minicar:




As a tradition in Odaiba the "D1 Champions" race was held, which is more of a show for public where only D1 champions participate.
While Orido Manabu wasnt lucky in official D1GP event, he did some nice runs at D1 chapmions day, check out the video!

We just can't wait for D1GP 2013 season to see how many drifters will run the Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ !