|| The 2011 Formula Drift (FD) Malaysia at the Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur saw defending champ Daigo Saito successfully retain his crown in front of thousands of Drift enthusiasts. The Malaysian FD champ also captured the overall FD Asia series crown, after his victories in Singapore and Indonesia earlier in the year.
Former Super GT racer and fellow countryman Manabu Orido of Team RSR finished runner–up, while Kiki Sak Nana (Kiki) in the familiar Red Bull-liveried Drift Team Thailand took third spot when he overcame Mervyn Nakamura. Malaysian drifters were a let down this time around, with only Nakamura making it to the Final four or semi-final.
At a super challenging circuit in Merdeka square, the top-32 tandem battles kicked things off with the mandatory format where one car led, the second car pursued and vice versa. The drivers were judged on speed, style, clipping zone proximity and the best drift angle. In the top-32 bouts, Saito knocked out Rhenadi Arinton, while top Malaysian drifter Ser Ming Hui (Fai) got the crowd inspired when he outdrifted Joshua Edwin Ian Boettcher. Team Goodyear Malaysia’s Michael Gan lost out to David Dorigo, but the team’s lead drifter Tan Tat Wei, although suffered a frontal crash in Saturday’s qualifiers, skillfully tackled Thai drifter Daychapon Toyringcharoen to get to the ‘Sweet 16’. Orido dispatched the other top Malaysian drifter Ivan Lau in their bout. Former Team Goodyear drifter Ariff Johanis struggled to get with Nakarin Tawachpakdi during their knock-out stage as the Thai easily overcame the Malaysian.
As fans poured into the stands for the second half of the event, the top sixteen runners drove their cars out to greet the fans in the usual scenario. When the processions ended, Orido quickly displayed his worth and made it difficult for Tat Wei; his RSR outclassed the beat-up Corolla rather easily to move on to the G8. Chaiwat Panthayangkool overcame his countryman Somchai Aroonrung to go through to the next phase, while another Thai drifter Terdthoon Ruayjaroen secured a G8 spot when he outwitted Indonesian Muhamad Hermawan.
In the other group, Saito made quick work of Rio Saputro and Fai showed his prowess to overpower Dorigo in the best match-up of the Sweet 16. The other G8 qualifiers were Nakamura and Saranon Pornpatanarak (Porn).
The G8 duels were set; Saito versus Fai, Nakamura vs Porn, Orido vs Panthayangkool and Kiki against Ruayjaroen. Intensified tandem battles were aplenty as the crowd got more rowdy and louder to excite the G8 drifters. Saito showed lots of drift sideways against Fai to get into the final four (F4), although Fai narrowly lost to the Japanese based on the judges’ decision. Nakamura displayed determination to race round Porn to reach the F4, then Orido used his experience to the fullest to cancel out Panthayangkool, and Kiki put his experience to good use to get into the last F4 bout.
The final four’s stage was thus set, it would be: Saito against Nakamura and Orido versus Kiki. Eventhough there was only one Malaysian drifter in the final four, the crowd still gave all F4 competitors a rousing atmosphere. Nakamura tried his best to fend off Saito, but Saito in the powerful Altezza was simply in his element. Saito would move on into the finals. In the other F4 spectacle, Orido and Kiki, the sole Thai drifter, entertained the crowd to the max, with Orido gaining an advantage after the first bout. Kiki made a better run in the second bout, but the judges voted Orido into the finals.
The battle for the FD Malaysia champion would be between the Japanese drifters, while 2nd runner-up honors was a duel between Kiki and Nakamura. In the main bout, Saito took the lead in the first run, and Orido made an uncharacteristic spin going into the first clipping point. Saito would head his rival in car-handling, drift precision and entry speed in the second bout to claim his consecutive FD Malaysia crown. Orido had to be satisfied with 2nd place on his first FD M’sia appearance.