Daigo Saito of Sparks Achilles Drift Team, driving his specially-prepared Toyota Altezza emerged champion at the Achilles Formula Drift 2011 held at Dataran Merdeka over the weekend. Saito clinched overall Driver’s Champion title and also helped his Sparks Achilles team win the overall Team Champion title for the 2011 season. Drift legend and Japanese compatriot Marabu Orido driving for Team RSR finished second with Thailand’s Kiki Sak Nana of Red Bull Drift Team clinching the final podium spot.
[ad#Google Adsense 336×280] Malaysia drifters showed they had what it took to play with other world class drivers. Thanks to home ground advantage and the cheering partisan crowd, 10 out of 13 Malaysian drivers qualified for the found of 32. Lim Zee King, Tan Tat Wei, Ser Ming Hui and Mervyn “Nakamura” Abdullah all made it into the Top 16. Mervyn in fact caused quite a stir by upsetting Thailand’s ace driver “Non” Saranon Pornpatanarak who was ranked second in the series coming into the competition. Mervyn however bowed out to Thailand’s Chantpon Kerdpiam in the last eight, after a close battle which went into a rematch. The other Malaysian hopeful, Ser Ming Hui made it into the quarterfinals before being stopped by eventual champion Saito.
Defending champion Saito was flawless throughout the competition, and at most times, looked unthreatened and unchallenged. From his previous experience at Dataran Merdeka last year which had a similar layout, Saito and his team purpose-built and prepped his race car to better optimise to the track conditions and layout. The much-anticipated final duel between Saito and the familiar figure Orido was exciting but ultimately one-sided. Orido made a rare error, spinning out in the first run to give Saito and upper hand for the remaining run. Saito only had to keep it error-free in the second run to ensure his title finish.
Saito’s consistency and amazing form has seen him sweep the Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia legs.
The Achilles Formula Drift Malaysia 2011 was organized by ESPN STAR Sports and title sponsored by Achilles Radial. The event had full support of Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur and the following proud Sponsors & Partners – Mansion 88 (Official Sponsor), Tune Talk (Official Telco), Chevrolet (Official Car), Hypertune & SHIFT (Official Partners), Tyrepac (Official Online Portal), DRIVE (Official Energy Drink), Tayaria (Official Tyre Changer), Spritzer (Official Water) and Doubletree Hilton (Official Hotel). ESPN STAR Sports is the official broadcaster for the Achilles Formula Drift Malaysia 2011, and provided coverage across its networks, covering 24 countries to a cumulative reach of more than 300 million viewers in Asia.