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.
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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.
[spoiler title="Show Full Press Release"]
18 December 2011 (Kuala Lumpur) – Daigo Saito of Sparks Achilles Drift Team claimed the Achilles Formula Drift 2011 Malaysia title and clinched the overall Drivers’ Champion in style at the Dataran Merdeka today, concluding the thrilling Achilles Formula Drift Series in Kuala Lumpur.It was the second consecutive year the Japanese emerged victorious in the Malaysian leg, and the 2011 series favourite proved too strong for the competition for another drift legend, compatriot Manabu Orido of Team RSR, who finished runners– up today. Saito took the lead in the first run, and Orido made an uncharacteristic spin going into the first clipping point.
Saito only had to make sure he turned in an error-free performance in the second run, and the Japanese did not disappoint, much to the pleasure of the enthusiastic crowd. Today’s victory saw Saito sweep the 2011 Achilles Formula Drift Series after winning the Singapore and Indonesian leg earlier this year.
Kiki Sak Nana of Red Bull Drift Team Thailand rounded off the top three of Achilles Formula Drift Malaysia 2011, after beating compatriot Chanatpon Kerdpiam in the third–fourth race.
However, it was the Malaysian drivers who drew the loudest cheers with the local drivers making the most out of the home support. In the Round of 32, Malaysia’s Mervyn ´Nakamura´ Abdullah caused the biggest upset by defeating Thailand ace driver Non (Saranon Pornpatanarak), who was ranked second in the series coming into today´s competition. Mervyn reached the last eight before losing to Thailand’s Chantpon Kerdpiam in a close battle that went into a rematch. Another local favourite, Ser Ming Hui, also made it to the quarter finals before losing to eventual champion Saito.
Out of the 13 Malaysians who participated in the Malaysian Drift, 10 qualified into the round of 32, with Lim Zee King, Tan Tat Wei joining Ser Ming Hui and Mervyn Nakamura in the top 16 – a clear indication of the quality of Malaysian drifters.
However it was the Japanese contingent that once again demonstrated the difference with Daigo’s near-flawless drifting. Orido, known for his stylish persona and cowboy hat, made his debut in Malaysia and the drifting legend surely gave the Malaysian crowd a real spectacle to behold.
Today´s finale also saw Sparks Achilles winning the overall Team Champion for the 2011 season, bolstered by Saito´s sweep over the Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia legs.
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