IDC – Japanese stars shine in first leg of the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup

30.09.17

Daigo Saito and Masato Kawabata win the opening Solo and Battle runs of the weekend in Odaiba

The first ever FIA-sanctioned drifting competition blasted into life today, 30 September, as 24 drivers from 14 countries took to the track in Tokyo to fight for the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup. Click here to view a photo gallery of the days action. 

FIA President Jean Todt welcomed the competitors and fans assembled in Odaiba in the Opening Ceremony, saying, “I am very happy to see you here in Tokyo for this first ever FIA drifting event – this is the place where drifting was born, and I’m sure it will be a very hard battle to become the very first winners of this special event.”

This prediction quickly became a reality, as the cars lined up firstly to compete in the Solo runs for individual glory. The E.D.S. (Electric Device System), which measures aspects such as speed and angle, was used to help calculate the final scores.

The pressure was on in this section of the event, as of the 24 entries, only the top 16 would go on to compete in the afternoon’s Battles. Each driver had two runs around the tight, technical course to try and post their best score.

After the first run it was incredible close between the two drivers who would lead the field throughout the day. Masato Kawabata posted the best first attempt – a 99.50 – which was just 0.08 ahead of his main rival Daigo Saito. In the second run through the course, however, it was Saito in front, breaking the 100 barrier by 0.42 points to secure victory in the Solo section for WANLI FAT FIVE RACING.

After a mid-table score at his first attempt, Hong Kong’s Charles NG posted an impressive 98.96 on his second pass to get onto the first podium of the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup.

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

Solo winner Daigo Saito said: “On the first run, Kawabata who was just in front of me did a very good score, so I tried to do my best but just fell a little short. In the second run, I tried to fix my mistakes from the first round, and was able to score over 100 points which was enough to win!”

Solo second placed driver Masato Kawabata said: “During my practice runs, I was stuck earning only around 98 points, but during the actual run I was able to push myself and earn 99 points. However, that apparently wasn’t enough as Daigo Saito went on to earn over 100 points. I wasn’t able to push myself hard enough.”

Solo third placed driver Charles NG said: “I had just brought my car from Thailand, and I did not have a lot of time to practice since I got to Japan. When I first got in to the car, I noticed that the settings were not quite right, but the team was able to pull together to adjust the suspension and tire pressure for the track here in Tokyo and helped me achieve this result. I’m really happy to be here competing on the International stage, and hopefully I can score another podium tomorrow.”

Click here to download the Solo Run results: Leg 1 Solo Run Result

With the top 16 drivers progressing to the battles, it was once again the Japanese pair of Saito and Kawabata making the biggest impression. There were, however, put under intense pressure by the two representatives from Russia at the FIA IDC – Georgy Chivchyan and Arkady Tsaregratsev.

Both were knocked out of their semi-finals by the Japanese aces, which made it an all-Russian Battle for third place. The two drivers were both racing under the PRIMRING TEAM with TOYO TIRES banner, and fans watched on with bated breath as they fought on the limit within inches of one another across both of their Battle runs. Ultimately, though, it was Tsaregratsev who emerged victories to secure third place on the podium.

It was then time for the first showdown Battle of the weekend, as the two striking Nissan GT-R R35 machines drew up alongside each other at the start line. There was immediate drama, however, as with Saito leading on the first run, he missed a gear going into the first scored section of the course, and the chasing Kawabata made contact with the rear of his car. 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 meant that after a nerve-wracking finale, it was Masato Kawabata and the TOYO TIRES GLION TRUST RACING team on the top step of the Battle podium at the end of the first day of the FIA Intercontinental Drifting Cup.

FIA President Jean Todt presented the winning drivers with their trophies and congratulated them on becoming the first ever winners of an FIA drifting contest. 

Battle winner Masato Kawabata said: “My team was able to prepare my GT-R that had just participated in a race in Russia on short notice, and get it ready for the race. My performance wasn’t perfect, but I’m happy that I was able to win first place and I am thankful to my team and staff members who helped me along the way.”

Battle second placed driver Daigo Saito said: “I moved up to the final round fairly easily, but made a few mistakes during the last round that resulted in this loss. I’m slightly disappointed, but I have another opportunity to compete tomorrow, so I hope to adjust my car and my racing style to push myself even harder for the next race.”

Battle third placed driver Arkady Tsaregratsev said: “I’m overjoyed that I was able to participate in the semi-final race, and was honored to run alongside Mr. Kawabata. I think the biggest reason for my loss was my car’s slow speed. In the RDS series in Russia, cars like Mr. Kawabata’s and Mr. Saito’s don’t exist, so I wasn’t used to their faster style of drifting. I think I am better prepared now and am looking forward to competing again tomorrow.”

Click here to download the Battle Run results: Leg 1 Battle Run Results

Another full day of drifting action is in store in Tokyo tomorrow, 1 October, as drivers will once again fight for Solo glory and aim to qualify for the Battle Runs. Track action begins at 11:30 and can be watched live worldwide on Facebook at the link below:

1st October: 1:30 am 〜 8:15 am (UTC)