Hey guys, sorry for the really late update. Life is so busy!

A quick recap of Drift Association’s second annual drifting competition (I think they called it DC 2). The Formula D competitors weren’t allowed to compete, so that we could make this more of a beginner style competition… but the cool thing was, we were allowed to judge! This was an AWESOME experience, because it really gave me some great insight on competition. All of the judges had to pair up with another judge so that we can save time on vote totalling at the end of each round. I paired up with Ken Gushi, and that was pretty cool because for the most part, we were scoring the same amount of points for each person anyways. In the beginning Ken and I had to decide how to judge… should we judge relative to the skill level in the competitors that day, or should we judge as the D1 judges would judge us in Formula D or D1? Ken and I thought it would be good for the competitors if we judged them the way we were judged. 0 to 5 points… 5 being a pro level run and 0 if there is a spin. The most consistent guys out there were the ones that ended up placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. These guys ALL scored 4s all the way across our scoring sheets throughout the day. Hiro secured his 1st place position in the final round, when he drove his heart out on one of his runs… Ken and I scored him a 5. Quoc and Alex were both ultra consistent and scored 4s on their final runs. They placed 2nd and 3rd.

The day was long but I had so much fun. It was also my first day to drive the KAAZ car. It wasn’t yet tuned, and there wasn’t an alignment on the car, so instead of learning how to drive the car, I was pretty much just making sure that nothing would break when I drove it for Formula D.

Anyway, Sonoma for Formula D Round 3 was pretty interesting. It was the first time I’ve ever competed along side my friend Barry Wong… my new teammate for Team KAAZ! This was our first competition as Team KAAZ, and I think that we figured out a lot of things… like what it takes to support a 2 car/driver team, and that teamwork does wonders. Before the competition, the car was tuned. We had so many problems tuning the car because the car kept overheating… It has a bad radiator setup. So the tuner had to keep letting the car cool down before he could continue tuning. Anyway, in the end, he didn’t have enough time to finish the tuning because of the overheating problem. So the map wasn’t perfect… but it was good enough to run. The car makes 270 horsepower to the wheels at 1.2 bar of boost, but doesn’t start making power until 4300 rpms. Eeek! I’ve never driven a car like that before (except for JDM Rice 1). I didn’t know how I would do in the competition while trying to figure out the new car.

On Saturday, we had a couple hours of practice time on the track. I had a lot of car problems… the intercooler piping busting off, the car overheating… and one of my biggest fears – the course was wack. AND it had a high speed 3rd gear entry into turn 1 with a very low speed exit. The huge boost lag in the car would really challenge me at that corner. Practice session started and I was all over the place… going off course, spinning, putting the car where it shouldn’t have been… It’s really strange what a competition will do to you. All day we were pairing up with whoever we happened to be next to in line… sometimes the person in front of you spun, and you got a screwed up practice run, or sometimes you spun, and you screwed it up for the person following. All day I kept messing up… I couldn’t get the first corner right! I think it might have been the pressure combined with the high speed entry of that first corner. Towards the end of the day, Barry and I talked and started giving each other advice, when we realized that we both see things the same way. So we started doing our practice runs with each other only. You have no idea how much it helped!!! Barry would give me advice when he was following me, and I gave him advice when I was following him… it was awesome, and we started to get it… and we started to pull off successful runs at the end of the day. This was so important, because once we were able to finish the course without spinning out, we were able to focus on certain parts of the run and clean them up for the competition the next day. Our method of attack was doing a feint… drifting away from the corner and then transitioning our drift into the corner… This is always hard for me, I don’t know why… but I was getting consistent, and as I transitioned into the corner, I was practicing using the entire track… and getting up close to the cones and dirt area.

Sunday came around, and I was pretty happy… Saturday I was worrying that I wouldn’t have the course figured out by competition time, but because of Barry’s help, I knew I wasn’t THAT far off. Practice began and I started to get comfortable with my speed and initiation… so I tried to go faster and earlier. Qualifying session rolls around and Utsumi does some demo runs to show us what he’s looking for. Utsumi has a really unique style… He has great control of the car and can go into the corner with very low angle and very high speeds. For some reason though, I disagree with the line that he takes and suggests at every event. Anyway, that is something I’ve been struggling with for the past year or so and can have it’s own journal entry. Anyway, we start our practice runs… I said to myself… okay… I’m going to try something new (a stupid thing to do on a qualifying run) and initiate EARLIER… First run, I initiated early, and it felt pretty good. It felt like I was driving at 70%… That was the practice run, and I felt confident… next run, it was on, and I decided to drive closer to like 85%. I initiated even earlier and I decided to get close to the tire barrier at my initiation point for style points… I got pretty danged close… as I got near I said to myself “oooh, this is going to be a close one…” I made it past the barrier and came in towards the first corner, except this time I got back onto the throttle a lot earlier… I came around approaching turn 2… and I decided to clean up my line… I used the throttle to tighten it up at the last minute to make a nice late apex, sending me out along the wall, just like I would while grip driving (I still think that racing line is the proper drifting line). It felt really good and I thought I would do pretty well in the qualifications.

Okay… this took me long enough to write… I’ll finish up the story next week, along with videos and some details from last weekend’s D1 Grand Prix US drivers search.