2016 Formula Drift Japan Round 1: Suzuka [RESULTS]

AndyGray-FDJapanSuzuka-Podium

For the second consecutive year, Andrew Gray took home the win at the Suzuka round of Formula Drift Japan. Despite having 32 entrants, only 29 drivers could muster a qualifying score, landing the top three drivers in qualifying a first round bye. Andrew Gray defeated defending Pro 2 champion Alex Heilbrunn in the top 32 round, a rivalry that should heat up as both drivers kick off the Formula Drift Pro season in just four weeks. Gray defeated top qualifier Seimi Tanaka in the semifinal, the second consecutive year he faced Tanaka towards the end of the competition. Daichi Oshiro snuck into the podium after taking out defending Formula Drift Rookie of the Year Masashi Yokoi in the top 16.

Here’s a look at the final podium:

1. Andrew Gray
2. Daichi Oshiro
3. Seimi Tanaka

Source: Hanny_Jey

Jacob Leveton

Freelance Drift Correspondent at JacobPhoto
Jacob Leveton has worked as a freelance journalist for 12 years, specializing in drifting since the first professional competition landed on US shores in 2003. Leveton has worked with more than twenty print and online media outlets to provide unique drifting content.

16 Comments

  1. Turbology says:

    Andy Gray should be a force to be reckoned with come Long Beach. This dude can really pedal, and even though Pro 2 was pretty much a formality for him last season, he still paid his dues and didn’t buy his way in with a waiver.

    Probably better that he drove in Pro 2 anyway, less steep of a learning curve to get comfortable with the North American style of driving and straight line speed of the cars. He should be a regular in top 32 this year.

  2. Christofur says:

    Anyone know why Daigo wasn’t driving? Or did I just miss him during the qualifying session? I doubt he wouldn’t have qualified so I wonder if he was in attendance, maybe car troubles?

  3. OGLarry says:

    @Christofur He just sat it out probably to focus on the FD US GTR, he was most likely supporting his old SC430 that was being rented that weekend too. Robbie was there as a judge I believe but isn’t going to be completing in FD Japan this year either.

  4. Steve says:

    Bit of a flip flop on the names. Daichi Oshiro got second. Seimi Tanaka got third. Final battle was Andy and Daichi, but I think Seimi was the top qualifier (only caught the last final battle).

  5. chris beasley says:

    so, ive seen a handful of drift events in japan now, and it seems that there is never any fans there. I mean, japan is supposed to be the birthplace of drift and has all these amazing drivers, yet the events are ghost towns. You guys see the Japanese scene differently?

  6. Doof says:

    I watced just the last couple runs with Andy Gray. Dude was on fire. Flatout and just ripping through the course. Love it.

    @chris

    Idk, maybe because the people there know FD is a shit show just as much as we do. The cars spent more time on the starting line waiting for the lights to turn green, than they did actually drifting.

  7. Twitch_6 says:

    Plus it’s still March and cold as fuck to be sitting in some grandstands all day.

    Motorsports in general are past their prime in Japan. Even Super GT races don’t sell out anymore.

  8. NUTTERBUTTER says:

    This had to be the worst event i have ever seen. soooo slow and so much down time. the same 3 adds over and over again. no sound for most of it and just dull dull dull. honestly fd is wasting our time and money with the japan move. either team up with drift muscle or move on

  9. WingZeroCustom says:

    Well even in D1 in Japan the grandstands aren’t as packed as they use to be. And this FD event was just…… I can’t find the words.. Usually the Japan rounds have been pretty good but this event was just bad. And the stream was ass.. Never let Network A stream again.

    Look at D1NZ, IDC or Drift Allstars and the stands are packed with people. And all three have something going on, on track during their half times to keep people entertained. Rather it be letting people who didn’t qualify run the track to keep some action going on, bike stunt shows or something. Or a combination of the two.

    As for D1GP. I think the reason is, is that just not as many people are head over heals about Drifting back like in 03 – 08. Most people now in Japan you see watch the Super GT/GT500 races or F1. So most of their attention is on those. And a few go to the Drift events as sort of a filler I guess. Least thats what I’ve noticed.

  10. OGLarry says:

    D1GP keeps the crowd entertained during downtime still, drift trains motorcycle stunts action and interviews in the pits.. FWIW I don’t think there was room for a FD Japan, like there was a D1GP USA back in the day. Between D1GP, D1SL, and Drift Muscle/ MSC which I guess is FD Japan now? Or maybe it was just early in the season. A lot of big names set out the event but many of them from Japan will be competing in and out of their country this year.

  11. Updated the results! Not sure how I got the names mixed up, sorry about that.

  12. KPA says:

    4300.00 bucks for first place! Damn world class payout!

  13. Doozer says:

    Japan drift events are watched in (and funded by) DVDs like Option. Its a different business model. Hence you don’t see large crowds. Why this is, I dont know.

    I think getting word out about the events and drumming up attendance is a huge challenge for FD, with a different culture and practices.

  14. KBanks says:

    You don’t know, probably never even been to Japan.

  15. Chewy says:

    @KPA I was gonna say that too. Even 3rd place get $880. Look at his face. So depressing.

  16. htsue says:

    @chris beasley

    Were there more spectators in 2015? It looked similar.

    I think its a combination of:

    – Track not known and relatively far from metro areas
    – FD Japan still in its infancy – Toyo, Goodyear, Dunlop aren’t onboard,
    – Not enough promotion of FDJP to locals, younger cohorts through social media.
    – Popularity of the motorsport has decreased compared to 90’s-00’s in Japan, since many Gen Y cohorts from North America to Japan aren’t owning cars and most of the original fans are working.

    Maybe FD has gone into Japan not to get local fans, but to draw out a bigger talent pool, attract more tire companies. And possibly convince the “FD is powersliding-nascar-oval-drifting” (d1gp purists) crowd that fd is legit/authentic by having events in the mecca of drifting.

    It’s like having a Japanese chef at your american fusion sushi restaurant… your purist crowd might come to like it, since this chef worked at d1.

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