Last weekend was the grand finale to the biggest few months our team has ever had. We prepared my GT Radial S15 to be more competitive for the 2013 series and we also had to prepare our Tyreright Sil80 to a level that could compete in Formula Drift so it could be driven by fellow GT Radial team mate Mico.
It was a crazy period of huge amounts of time spent from the whole crew to get these cars FD legal and performing well. I’m so proud of my crew’s hard work. Mico finished in 7th place at his first ever FD event, in a borrowed car, with out much seat time, and I brought home that carbon fibre trophy we’ve been working so hard for!
We had a very busy weekend, with our crew looking after our 2 cars but also helping with the whole GT Radial team which included 5 cars in total.
First up for us was the ADGP exhibition round on Saturday, we qualified in 7th place and with not much spare time, we were unable to adjust the car much before the top 32 battles. We went through to the top 16 with no problems, but in the top 16 we just didn’t have the car setup up fast enough and were beaten by Andreas Paraskevas. We then quickly went to work knowing we would need to be much faster for the big competition on Sunday.
We changed a few settings and got the car prepared for the big day ahead before heading home for a nice dinner with the GT Radial Drift Team.
Sunday arrived and it was game day. With the Formula Drift team completely changing the layout from the ADGP layout the day before.
So in the drivers breifing, we walked the track and checked out the new battle ground.It looked great, fast to start and a tight final hairpin that put us right in the middle of the grandstands.
After only 2 laps we decided that our setup changes had made the car much faster and more predictable and I was very excited for what lie ahead. We kept pushing in practice to get the line as spot on as possible so when it came to qualifying we could lock down a great run first go.
Qualifying has a new format this year. This year only 16 drivers can qualify for the battles instead of 32. First off we all go out for one qualifying run, after that the scores are calculated and the top 8 positions are locked in. Then the remaining drivers go out again to try and secure a spot between 9th and 16th.
With the first run being the only chance to qualify really high, I wanted to push for a really high score straight up, but decided to lay down a solid run without pushing it too far. It worked out well, the GT Radial SX2s made it easy to run a smooth line and carry the required speed through the speed trap. And after the first round I was locked in and qualified 3rd behind Daigo Saito and Mad Mike!
The crowds were really big and the support for this massive event was awesome, we had a 45 min autograph session on both days and both days the line never ended and had to be cut short due to time, thanks for the appreciation Melbourne!
Happy with the score, we put some new GT Radial SX2s on ready for the top 16 intro and battles. The intro’s brought something new for me as well, the Australian national anthem was being played for the first time at a Formula Drift event! A very memorable occasion!
Then it was time for battle. I went into the first run determined to beat fellow Aussie, Khudr Elhouli and make it through to the top 8. I was leading first and made sure that I put down a tidy run, but I noticed half way through the run that Kudar wasn’t anywhere to be seen behind me. He had some mechanical dramas and didn’t even make the first corner. We soon found out he was unable to continue and we were straight through to the top 8.
Next up was a very weird experience for me, after the top 16 battle between my 2 GT Radial team mates, Mico and Rio, it was 16 year old Mico who took the win in my Aussie based drift car, the Tyreright Sil80. This meant I would be battling against my own car in order to earn myself the best finish I’d ever had in Formula Drift Asia!
I quickly made the decision that I would run a safe lead with a hard chase, and completely put out of my head the fact that I was battling my own car! Mico is a very good young driver, and a bit to my surprise on the first run he stayed close to me for most of the run! I set up the Sil80 to be fast, so I guess that’s what I should expect!
Speaking to my spotter, Dan we were both a bit surprised. I knew that I would have to get super close to make sure I wasn’t embarrased by being beaten by my own car! So I stuck to Mico as close as possible and finished out the run right on him. We were confident of the win, and there it was, we got the win and were through to the top 4! Mico had done an amazing job in a borrowed car and ended up finishing 7th in his first ever formula drift event!
Next up was a tough one, fellow Aussie Tom Monkhouse was competing in Formula Drift for the first time, but had been on fire all weekend. Taking second on Saturday at ADGP and pushing hard all day in FD Asia, he wasn’t going to be easy to beat.
We took off for the first run with me leading, he charged in very close on the first corner and I could see him right up beside me, I stayed on my line and held bigger angle, but at the end of the run as I came around the last corner I spun.
Not happy about the error, I went all out on the second run and stayed right on his door keeping a clean run behind him but it wasn’t enough to make up for the spin so Tom went through. I was now going to battle it out for 3rd place with none other than the Norwegian Hammer!
Fredric ‘Norwegian Hammer’ Aasbo is a big name in the drifting scene worldwide. He competes in Formula Drift in the US and only 2 weeks before this event beat Daigo Saito the reigning FD USA and FD Asia champion. And you may remember, he took me out in the top 8 in the final round last year in Jakarta.
In the all new RS-R NASCAR V8 power Toyota GT86 with Fredric Aasbo behind the wheel was not going to make it easy at all. This car is amazing and with the noise that it makes and the way the RS-R team works, it was always going to be a challenge.
I led the first run and made sure I was as fast as possible and ran a clean line and did my best to pull away from Freddy. He stayed quite close to me, but not right on my door for the whole run.
As we drove back to the start line, Dan and I chatted and we knew I’d have to put it all on the line to earn ourselves our first carbon fibre trophy from the FD Asia series. I pushed as hard as possible to get up on Freddy’s door into the first corner.
We were able to close right in and stay super close to Freddy through the final turn.
I knew we had done well and was just hoping that I would be rewarded, and there it was! The officials signaled to me that I had taked 3rd place! I was so pumped, we had our first carbon fibre trophy!
The battle for 1st and 2nd went on while I celebrated with Dan and Soon and then it was straight onto the podium!
What a weekend, we’d pushed ourselves so hard to get everything ready and right for the event and we ended up with a trophy and a whole lot of smiles from our entire awesome team!
Seeing as this was the first ever Formula Drift event on home turf, to take my first podium here was very special too. It’s also given us a great start to the season and means we can battle on for the rest of the series and push hard to take the championship! It’s not going to be easy, but I’m certainly going to go for it!
And it was really cool to have my wife Alison there to celebrate too!
Thank you so much for your support, keep following me here and on Facebook and Instagram and look forward to more awesome events coming up. Right now we are preparing the GT Radial S15 to be shipped to Malaysia for the second round in Kuala Lumpur on June 29th.
Until next time, STAY SIDEWAYS!!