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D1GP Round 2 Fuji Drift

Daigo Saito and Masato Kawabata fight for first place

May 10, 2016
Photographer: Zee Zayas

It doesn't get any better than the D1 Grand Prix. Like Formula DRIFT, D1 GP starts off with a solo run they call "tanso." A driver gets two runs and is judged on angle, speed, and overall performance. From there, the top-qualifying drivers are matched in a tournament system that they call "tsuiso" - essentially a tandem race. What made this round even more special is the incorporation of HKS Premium Day, which was cancelled earlier this year due to time constraints.

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In the qualifying round, Kunihiko Teramachi in the Origin Lab Nissan Silvia S15 came out as the top qualifier. His entry speed wasn't the highest, but his consistent angle at the hairpin earned him a solid 98.06 points. One of our favorite cars was the Bee R 86 driven by Masayoshi Tokita, who managed to get fifth place in qualifying.

Fighting for third place in the semifinal tsuiso was Yoichi Imamura in the OTG Motor Sports ZN6 and Minowa Shinji in the Team Boss JZX90. In the first run, Imamura lead while Shinji followed. Although Shinji ran a little wide in the last section, he still managed to keep up with Imamura throughout the run. When they switched positions however, Imamura had a harder time chasing Shinji and lost by a single point.

D1gp round 2 re amemiya mazda rx7 fender yuki matsui Photo 6/43   |   D1gp Round 2 Re Amemiya Mazda Rx7 Fender Yuki Matsui

Although Daigo Saito is on hiatus from his Formula D career, he is clearly on fire back on his home court. During the tanso portion, Daigo was the only person that managed to score as high as 99 points with a speed of 118mph. It seems as if a rivalry is starting to brew between Daigo and Kawabata, who met at the finals just as they did in the previous Tokyo round. In their first lap Kawabata chased down Daigo but suffered major understeer and even went all four tires off of the track. With a huge disadvantage going into the final round, Kawabata initiated with huge angle, but also ran a wide line that gave Daigo the chance to overtake him from the inside. Saito walked away with the victory.

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