|The 2011 Formula Drift Asia series has kicked off with its first round in Singapore over the weekend and a further three additional rounds, scheduled for Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia in the corresponding months. Once again the first Formula Drift Asia round brought forth the top drifters from the region and assorted participants from non-Asian countries.|
In Saturday’s qualifying for the Top-32 tandem battles, Goodyear Team Malaysia’s Tan Tat Wei (above) led the pack which included Ivan Lau (Bridgestone) and Ee Yoong Cherng (GT Radial Drift team) who qualified second and third highest respectively. The top three qualifiers showed an abundance of drift skills on a tricky and difficult circuit. Tan had the best run of the day scoring 73.7 points to top the standings with a fluid run that displayed ample car control. Singapore’s Jason Tan was the sole qualifier for his home country for the top-32 showdown.
The drifters put on a show with the new scoring system favoring style over speed at the qualification round, emphasizing angle, line and overall impression with each getting a maximum of 30 points. Points for speed were also dropped to 10 points, opening up a bigger opportunity for the drifters to show off their flair and creativity behind the wheel.
Tan hopes to carry this good form into the tandem-battle round and lead a charge into the finals. Commenting on his run Tan said, “Having competed in last year’s event I feel I had an advantage as I know the track well and it is similar to the one from last year. I will do my best, it helps that I have a bye into the next round which is good for me, but I will be up against some tough drivers. So I will do what I can and hope for the best”
The drifters overcame challenging wet conditions after a brief downpour in the late morning, and the drying track added another dimension to qualifying. But the roar of thumping engines and the smell of burning tyres thrilled fans at the F1 Pit Building as 44 drivers were whittled down to 31 for the qualifications. With top drivers such as Daynom David Templeman, Ken Gushi, Saranon Pornpatanarak, Kiki Sak Nana and of course Daigo Saito still in contention, the tandem round should be an exciting day of drifting.
As always, the Sunday’s main event will open with a practice session for the drifters. With the most prolific field of drifters, the competition will be tough, especially on a challenging track. Car set-up with a good mix of inside and outside clipping points, as well as quick changes of direction, is important to ensure that the drifter maintains positive momentum throughout the tandem laps. Thirty one drifters will chugged it out for the sweet sixteenth, then the great 8 and the final four. The final four drivers from that round will then contest the podium places and the winner’s trophy. This time around, there’d be a Team title for the contending drifters’ teams.