The first-ever Drift Muscle event in the Philippines was held at the iconic Quirino Grandstand, venue of the very first Manila Grand Prix in 1970 and the recent Manila Speedshow where Filipino-Swiss Marlon Stockinger paraded a Lotus F1 car on Philippine soil for the very first time. The drift even was a showdown of the country’s top drift drivers in a course designed by Japan’s 'Drift King' Keiichi Tsuchiya.
Tsuchiya was in Manila recently together with his partner Daijiro Inada (Option Magazine founder) to hold the very first Drift Muscle Philippines event. The duo were part of the original founders of D1 Grand Prix, which they left in 2010 after disagreements with other proponents; they decided to form their own series in 2011 called Drift Muscle to take drifting back to its grassroots level. In short, they want to make 'drifting fun again'.
Drift Muscle Philippines was a project led by Okinawa-based Filipino-Japanese Toni Arakaki, who actively competes in the Drift Muscle Japan series along with fellow Japanese drifters also from Okinawa.
The event saw the comeback of Jason 'The Destroyer' Choachuy, who co-drove the A-toy Customs Mercedes-Benz 190E after hanging his gloves for more than a year. Choachuy spent the 2013 season as a judge at a local drift championship.
A total of thirty-five participants entered the event to test their mettle and show their skills to the 'Drift King' as Tsuchiya is referred to because he is considered as the father of 'togue' or mountain pass drifting and show drifting. The ultimate challenge for the drivers was to initiate and hold their drifts without using their handbrakes or e-brakes. This was meant to teach the drivers to rely more on their driving skill rather than equipment. Tsuchiya also gave drivers inputs on how to improve their driving as well.
Only fifteen competitors managed to make it past the qualifying round topped by Jesus Romero Salas who drove like a madman with his mean green Nissan Cefiro. Other competitors were Alex Perez, Luis Gono, Tintin David, Gio Rodriguez, Norman Agojo, Jason Choachuy, Mark Bernardo, Ralph Tan, David Feliciano, Boodie Dabasol, John Boban, Radrich Albano, Raymond Ronquillo, and Joma Montaner.
The drivers fought hard and drove to the limit to out-drift their opponent to advance through its round. There were close calls and 'one more time' calls, in the end experience would take the prize. Lone female competitor Tintin David showed her skills as she made it as far as the Top-8 round, only to be knocked out by Gio Rodriguez.
The youngest competitor and rookie driver Luis Gono showed his mettle making it all the way until the Top 4 battling hard with multi-champion Alex Perez. Gono ended up fighting for third place against Ralph Tan; the latter would emerge victorious. In the final tandem battle, it was an epic match between Alex Perez and Gio Rodriguez as the two fought tightly contested runs. It would be Rodriguez minting better composure as he emerged as champion, edging out the more seasoned Perez.
At the closing ceremonies of the inaugural event, Tsuchiya personally announced that they will be holding Drift Muscle Philippines as a series in 2014 with five events.
TOP 16 Tandems
Jesus Romero Salas (Privateer/Nissan A31) vs Joma Montaner (Privateer/Toyota Celica)
Mark Bernardo (Privateer/Nissan S13) vs Ralph Tan (Atoy Customs/Mercedes-Benz 190E)
Tintin David (Autocraft/Nissan S14) vs Radrich Albano (Maxxis-Autocraft/Nissan S15)
Luis Gono (Motul-Autoplus/Nissan S13) vs Paolo Agregado (Maxxis/Toyota AE86)
Norman Agojo (Autocraft/Nissan S15) vs Boodie Dabasol (G Motorworx/Mitsubishi Lancer A70)
Jason Choachuy (Atoy Customs/Mercedes-Benz 190E) vs David Feliciano (DMF Drift/Nissan S13)
Alex Perez (Yellow Cab/Nissan S13) vs Raymond Ronquillo (R33/Nissan S13)
Gio Rodriguez (Atoy Customs/Nissan A31) - Bye-Run
TOP 8 Tandems
Ralph Tan vs Jesus Romero Salas
Tintin David vs Gio Rodriguez
Luis Gono vs Boodie Dabasol
David Feliciano vs Alex Perez
TOP 4 Tandems - Gio Rodriguez vs Ralph Tan | Luis Gono vs Alex Perez
Battle for Third - Ralph Tan vs Luis Gono
Final - Alex Perez vs Gio Rodriguez