He's back. After a four-year absence, Japanese pro drifter, 2012 Formula DRIFT drivers champion, and all-around drifting Supreme Being Daigo Saito is apparently returning to America to tackle the 2020 FD Championship, and looks to be doing it in a 2JZ GT86 with support from none other than Toyota's Gazoo Racing - the outfit that preps cars and sends teams to Le Mans and the Nurburgring for the OEM. He'll be returning to a series that is decidedly harder to succeed in than the one he left in 2016, having three-time reigning champion James Deane and his Worthouse Drift Team to contend with.
The news came out via Saito's Instagram account, and it appears he's already started tearing down the 86 and begun fab work at his Fat Five Racing shop in Japan, including mocking up engine position. The turbo mill from the A80 Supra most notably will be built by PPM (we think in Australia - there's a few PPMs out there), which is using a stroker setup to push the engine's displacement to 3.4 liters, a not too uncommon option for teams running the Toyota inline-6.
Since leaving Formula D, Saito's been doing what he does best, driving the wheels off various drift cars around the world. This year the popular J driver was the first to convert an A90 Supra into a pro drift car, and as the seasons pass he continues to add to his championship haul, having earned D1 titles in 2008 and 2016 and Formula D Asia titles in 2012 and 2013 to go with his 2012 FD championship and Rookie of the Year, among other accolades.
When he won his title in 2012, Saito took it with authority, but chances are his 2020 in FD will not be the same piece of cake. Since leaving, three-time champion Chris Forsberg won two of his titles (2014 and 2016), and James Deane came over here from Ireland and flipped everything upside down, winning three drivers titles in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Anyone familiar with the series knows every competition is an uphill battle, one that Saito needs to be completely ready for. Similarly, now everyone in the Formula D field will have another giant to slay every competition weekend. The 2020 Formula DRIFT Pro season is going to be bananas - to keep up with the series, head over to their website or follow them on the social medias, @formulad.