This past weekend at the Toyota Speedway, in Irwindale, CA, was the first Ken Block Gymkhana Invitational, which hosted a slew of drivers from a variety of auto racing disciplines. Professional drivers of Drift, Time Attack, Road Racing, and Rally were invited to compete this past weekend to see who would be the fastest driver in two separate classes, AWD and RWD.
As a sponsor of the event, it was only natural for Discount Tire to ask their drifting professional, Dai Yoshihara, to come out to compete. For this event, Dai came out with the same V8 powered Nissan 240SX (S13) he had been competing in for the 2010 Formula D season. However, although the exterior was the same, the technical specs had changed completely to help compliment the demanding gymkhana style track.
During practice and into qualifying, Dai had been running one of the fastest lap times in the RWD class, and he was even seconds away from the fastest lap times of the faster AWD class. With the fastest lap time of 55 seconds, Dai landed the number 1 qualifying spot for the RWD class. During the first elimination round, Dai was paired up with fellow Formula D competitor, Joon Maeng. With a 53 second lap time, Dai moved onto the second round of competition with ease and confidence.
In the Great 8 round, Dai went up against another Formula D competitor, Tony Brakohiapa who drove his Ford Mustang. The competition between the two started out very close but the Mustang was no match for the dialed-in Nissan 240SX. Dai secured his victory with another fast run of 54 seconds. The Final 4 round was probably the most competitive Dai was going to face in the night. Young driver, Kevin Abbring, was driving his Nissan 350Z in sub-55 second lap times and was consistently becoming faster throughout the night. Both cars ran slower times than their previous runs but at the end, Dai came out on top with a 55 second run.
In the finals, Dai was matched up with privateer, John Russakoff, in his Honda powered Toyota Corolla (AE86). John was running fast, clean runs all day and was a concern for Dai. In the first lap, the two cars were neck to neck with Dai having a slight edge over John. In the second lap, a miss shift slowed John down considerably; and although he had caught up to Dai, he was no match as Dai drove through the finish line with a lightning fast 52 seconds. With this last pass and the help of his sponsors Falken Tire and Discount Tire, Dai was crowned champion of the RWD class.
"The car was awesome," explains Dai. "In an event like this, it's really important to make sure the car is set up properly. There's a lot of racing styles - drag racing, drifting, and time attack - you have to make sure your car can do all that the best and it did thanks to my crew. I had so much fun!"