Despite difficult weather conditions throughout the weekend, reigning D1 Champion Daigo Saito captured his second win of the season in Round 2 of the 2009 D1GP USA Championship Points Series at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida. With back-to-back first place finishes in the opening rounds, Saito now has a strangle hold on the top spot for the overall championship.
In addition to the exciting on-track action, fans had the rare opportunity to see the "Drift King" himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya in person. Tsuchiya, who served as the head judge for the competition, is widely recognized as one of the key founders of drifting as a motorsport.
"The crowd appreciated the presence of the Drift King in Florida and the battles were close due to the technical track," said associate judge Brian Norris. "The on and off rain conditions made the course tough but showed that Florida drift fans are hardcore."
The fans literally weathered the storm to see the top drivers in the world going at it. The slick track was a blessing for some in the form of easier drift initiation and fewer tire changes, but resulted in devastating casualties for other competitors.
Rain wasn't the only thing standing in the way. Forest Wang, the surprise third place finisher at Round 1 in Anaheim, was knocked out of the tandem competition early due to a broken axle.
The event gave nearly 100 semi-pro and amateur drifters the opportunity to compete alongside last year's Japan series champion and other seasoned veterans. In the end, however, it was the Japanese professional Daigo Saito in first place again with his Artworks Toyota JX100 Chaser. His fellow countryman Ken 'Nomuken' Nomura in his big body Blitz Nissan ER34 Skyline sedan. Finishing in third was Finland's Harri Hokkanen in his bright green Nissan S14 240SX.
Can anyone overcome Saito's massive lead and steal the championship away? Only time will tell. Next stop: Round 3 at Soldier Field in Chicago.