The third round of the 2009 Lateral Drift Championship Series was held last 27th of June yet again at the illustrious Greenhills Shopping Center parking lot in San Juan City. Quickly becoming a regular attraction, people came in swarms to watch man and machine burn up some rubber competing in its fourth year of running of what is the only drifting competition in the country. Spectators and drifters alike were blessed with cool and clear weather spawning a days worth of fuel burning, rubber screeching and mind blowing drifting action.
This round's track layout maximized every single inch of the parking lot as much as possible. Starting with a long sweeping right-hander, the track leads onto a short stretch before it quickly tightens up to slow right hand turn. It then brings them back to the first turn but in the opposite direction for a short and quick left hand sweeper until it ends with a narrow gate that the drivers have to go through. Such a technical circuit proved to be tricky even for the most experienced of drivers. Early practice sessions saw quite a few of drifters scrape the walls and tire barriers with the cars suffering battle scars even before the competition proper began.
Taking the top spots in the top 16 qualifiers were favorites Kevin Tayao, Alex Perez of Team Yellow Cab and Jason "The Destroyer" Choachuy of Team AutoIndustriya.com. The three were unblemished throughout practice and qualifying with only minor incidents including The Destroyer's slight kiss with the tire barriers. Rounding up the top 16 were Paolo "Speedyballs" Arespacochaga, Raymond Ronquillo, Jeff Villanueva of Team Forced Speed, Jet Mathay, John Boban, Mark Rosca of Team Forced Speed, Jonathan Arriola, Joema Montaner, Atoy Llave, RJ Obiedo of Team Forced Speed, Dan Javier, Pao Agregado and wraping up up the final spot is Audel Sision piloting the Tuason Racing Drift Truck.
With a big sigh of relief, both of the Tuason Racing's Mazda BT-50s performed healthily for the whole day. Although Mike Tuason did manage to rip off the newly installed front body kit on one of the pick-ups, it didn't dampen the team's spirit launching Audel Sision into the top 16. Unfortunately, not everyone on track was having a nice day. Lt. Dan Javier was plagued with mechanical issues despite previously installing a new clutch. Amongst the day's victims was Bryan Revilla in his orange Nissan S15 who suffered car problems leaving him out of the running, but seeing him drive masterfully after jumping into Atoy Llave's Cefiro for a quick run erased all doubt that Bryan's car was indeed to blame. Sadly, it was something too little too late to change the judge's minds.
The sun had set quickly and the track had cooled rapidly, the top 16 drivers was now in for a handful as the track condition changed in an instant. Some took a couple of runs to adjust to the lower grip levels while others were caught out by the utter darkness and blinding stage lights. Joema Montaner was one of those who drove blindly causing him to drive over the tire barriers and took out the front chin on his yellow Toyota Corolla DX. But no one expected lighting to strike twice that night when Pao Agregado ran over the barriers two times in succession. Thankfully, his wise decision to install a stock plastic bumper on his Nissan S14.5 Silvia saved him from costly repairs since plastic can bounce back into shape to live to race another day whereas fiberglass body kits simply shatter into pieces.
Starting the top 8 tandem runs saw Kevin Tayao in his supercharged AE86 go up against John Boban's Nissan R32 Skyline of Team Drift Tech. Tayao's driving was flawless throughout the day and not even Boban can match up to his unchallenged domination. Jet Mathay put up a great fight against the reigning 2008 champion Alex Perez, but the champion held on to win by a whisker. While a man on a mission, Jason "The Destroyer" Choachuy literally plowed through everything in his path. With Choachuy and Jeff Villanueva taking one win each in a "best of three" match, everything was laid down to the wire on the last run. They battled it out on track vigorously matching each other's pace and even if Jason was running ahead, Villanueva stuck onto Choachuy's rear bumper - or what's left of it, like glue for the entire run until he appeared to have spun out at the very last corner. Controversy struck when the judges had to replay the footage of their final run several times to decipher who won the round. Although after much deliberation, the win was awarded to "The Destroyer", but he was overwhelmed with so much emotion that he disappointingly forfeited from the competition. Finally, Raymond Ronquillo in his blue Nissan R33 Skyline played a game of cops and robbers with Arespacochaga's Banzai Police themed Cefiro leaving the cop car trailing behind and Ronquillo advancing to the semi-finals.
First up in the semi-finals was top-qualifier Tayao against Ronquillo. Tayao takes the first heat as Ronquillo spins out in turn two. He goes on to advance to the finals by wrapping up the second heat diving inside Ronquillo at the exit of the second turn. Secured with at least a 2nd place finish, Alex Perez had the leisure of sitting by the sidelines to watch Kevin Tayao and Raymond Ronquillo duel it out on track after Choachuy gave up his place in the semi-finals. Ronquillo would meanwhile advance to third by default with Choachuy's exodus.
The finals saw a classic battle between top drifters Kevin Tayao and Alex Perez. These two are at the pinnacle of the sport and everybody knew that neither will hand over the win to the other so easily. Tayao ran far ahead from Perez during the first run but made an uncanny mistake during their second pass. It meant that all pinks were out when both cars left the gate for the day's final run. Trailing behind, Perez pushed Tayao throughout the course, but the pressure got the better of Perez causing him to spin out awarding Kevin the win.
Alex Perez extends his championship even further and the excitement continues at the final leg of the series happening on the 29th of August.
The 2009 Glade Sport Lateral Drift Championship is turbcharged by PLDT myDSL, and sponsored by Motul, A-toy Bodykits, DMF Drift, Aikka Paints, AutoIndustriya.com, C! Magazine, Speed TV, Turbo Time, DC Shoes and Wave 89.1.