Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted September 06, 2008 11:23
Sideways in Singapore
The Formula DRIFT franchise recently staged its first International event outside of North America. The Changi Exhibition Centre in Singapore was filled with tire smoke in a historic event as the region's top drivers went against some of the world's best professional drift drivers. The event was participated by thirty-eight drivers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and North America. The Goodyear sponsored event was co-organized by Binter Drifter, a division of Binter & Co., a major player in the tire distribution industry in Singapore and Formula DRIFT Holdings of North America.
Leading the Formula Drift USA contingent was 2004 D1GP champion Ryuji Miki, with Casper Canul and Conrad Grunewald. Formula DRIFT Holdings founders Jim Liaw and Ryan Sage were both present at the inaugural International event that was attended by more than 10,000 drift fans with all tickets sold out prior to the event. Binter's General Manager, Marcus Lim expressed much delight and said, "It really is heartening to know that not only is there a demand for Drift competitions here but also the wonderful support we have received from Singaporeans cheering on all the drivers. The energy today was indescribable. This was truly a success for the first-ever Formula DRIFT Singapore and it certainly won't be the last!"
All regional drifters were required to make single qualifying runs around the track, which determined the Top 16. They were judged in four scoring elements as they passed through the strategically placed "clipping points"; Line, Speed, Angle and Impact/Showmanship. Emerging from the roster of 35 regional drivers were Mike Whiddet, Lim Kim Wan, Tan Tat Wei, Tengku Djan, Ser Meng Hui. Jason Sellars, Ivan Lau, Yeung Wai Hung, Hashihuti Toyoshi, Ivan Lim, Nakorn Cotraviwat, Ariff Johanis, Chan Ka Ping, Johan Norman, Ee Yoong Chern, and Jansen Tan. Qualifying on top was Goodyear-sponsored driver Whiddet from New Zealand piloting a naturally aspirated Mazda RX-7.
The Top 16 would be paired ladder style with the top qualifier going against the last qualifier in a tandem battle with two runs. Emerging from the tire smoke to make the Great 8 were "Mad Mike" Whiddet, Yeung Wai Hung, Tengku Djan, Ser Meng Hui, Ee Yoong Chern, Ivan Lau, Tan Tat Wei and Jason Sellars. The Great 8 would again run a knockout tandem battle with the Top 5 finishers advancing to the main event against the three Formula DRIFT pro drivers in another eight-car battle. They were, Whiddet, Tengku Djan, Ivan Lau, Tan Tat Wei and Ser MengHui.
In the semi-finals, Goodyear drivers Ryuji Miki and Mad Mike Whiddet went head-to-head, both driving Mazda RX-7s; while Conrad Grunewald was paired with Tengku Djan who defeated the EDC Toyota Supra piloted by Casper Canul in the earlier round. Miki would defeat Whiddet, advancing to the final round, while Djan defeated Grunewald in the RS-R S2000, emerging as the top regional driver advancing into the championships. Kiwi driver Whiddet piloting his Goodyear Mazda RX-7 would successfully take third place from Grunewald as the latter's S2000 suffered car damage after a slight contact in the first clipping point in the 2nd run.
The final showdown was between Malaysian Tengku Djan Ley and Japanese driver Ryuji Miki. It was almost like a David and Goliath matchup as Miki drove the Goodyear sponsored Apex-i Mazda RX7 against Djan in his nitrous-fed Toyota Levin AE86. But Djan would wow the crowd as he tied the first run with Miki. Djan would seem to be the favorite until a very unfortunate mistake at the very last turn of the final run as his car bogged down and stopped as Miki drifted his way to victory.