FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup – 2017 Rewind | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup – 2017 Rewind

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As FIA drifting gears up for a return to Tokyo this week, we look back at last year's the thrilling first edition 

As the stars and cars prepare for the second FIA Intercontinental Cup which gets underway in Tokyo later this week (2-4 November), we take a look back at the inaugural edition which took place at the same venue twelve months ago.

24 of the world’s top drifting stars representing 14 different countries gathered in Daiba for the first ever FIA-sanctioned drifting event where they would compete in both Solo and Battle categories over two legs.

Local heroes put their home advantage to good use in the first Solo runs, with D1GP stars Masato Kawabata and Daigo Saito trading blows for the top position. While Kawabata set the benchmark in the first run through the course, Saito’s sensational second pass was enough to secure victory in his Nissan GTR.

Showing the truly international flavour of the event, drivers from Hong Kong, Russia, Malaysia and Thailand, all made it into the top ten.

With the top 16 drivers from the Solo runs progressing through to the Leg 1 Battles, competition intensified with a knockout system introducing an additional element of unpredictability.

The front-running Japanese drivers from earlier in the day continued their run of good form, but were tested in the semi-finals by Russia’s Georgy Chivchyan and Arkady Tsaregratsev. Ultimately, though, it was Saito and Kawabata in the finals, with an all-Russian third place play-off battle eventually won by Tsaregratsev.

While Saito had been able to best his countryman in the first part of the competition, he made a small mistake as the lead car causing contact. Both went on to complete the run, but with Saita scoring more highly, Kawabata then had a mountain to climb.

It looked as though the #10 car of Saito had done enough to keep pace with a flawless Kawabata on the last run, but a tiny mistake cost him dearly, and the pair ended up tied on points. This meant the final would have to be run again.

At the second time of asking, Kawabata’s chase run was near-perfect, and despite Saito’s best efforts on his chasing run, he overstepped the mark just slightly, making contact and costing himself points. This handed victory in the first of two Battle legs to Kawabata.

The second day of the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup gave all drivers a second chance to score big and haul themselves up the points table for both Solo and Battle honours. Three new drivers would reach the podium for their Solo Run efforts: Thai driver Daychapon Toyingcharoen almost broke the 99-point barrier with a 98.96 in his second run to secure third place behind Russian ace Arkady Tsaregratsev who impressed with a 99.21 in his opening gambit. Victory, though, went to Japan’s Masashi Yokoi, who just did enough in his second run to top the table by a tiny margin of 0.13 points.

Despite not scoring a podium in Leg 2, Saito’s performance on day one and a solid Sunday showing was enough to take victory in the overall FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup for Solo Run.

The Battle runs on the final day provided perhaps the most thrilling action of the competition. This time around there was an all-Japanese and all-Russian semi-final, meaning a driver from each nation would progress to the final.

Kawabata and Tsaregratsev ended up going wheel-to-wheel in the finale, with nothing to separate them in the first run of the battle. On the second time through the course, with Kawabata chasing, there was a dramatic moment as the day one winner pushed too hard and ended up overtaking his rival. This meant that Tsaregratsev took day two victory.

With points combined across the two days, however, Kawabata was ultimately crowned the first winner of the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup.

This year, both Kawabata and Tsaregratsev return for a re-match, joined by a host of the best drifters from around the world all looking to make their mark on this FIA-sanctioned top-level competition.