So, recently I had another drifting adventure, and this time in Malaysia. I was invited out to compete in the FX Open finals in Speed City, KL. It was to be a really big cash purse, and seemed like a fun opportunity to get back into some competition. I was slated to drive Tengku Djan’s backup S13, but at the last minute, he was given a spot at the FD Qatar event, and they airlifted the car to the middle east. Good for Djan (wound up 2nd), not so good for my hopes in KL. Whenever you have to compete in an unfamiliar car, you have to really be sure that it is going to be something that works well, and Djan’s team is the best in Malaysia, so when I was offered to drive one of his cars, I knew it would be something solid. When they said the car was no longer available, less than a week before we left for Qatar, I knew it would be a struggle to find something worth driving. Iv’e been to Malaysia a few times doing driver coaching and demos and there are not alot of decent cars. I had already committed to the event, flights were booked, and I was being promoted as a part of the event, so off we went. The prize money was HUGE 100k Malaysian (about $34k US) so that was my motivation to try to drive whatever I wound up in about as hard as I could. I arrived directly from FD Qatar, anxious to see what were the options for me…. Djan told me that a friend was building a replica of his black car, and it was being worked on day and night to get it all done. The biggest holdup was that they were unable to buy proper steering knuckles from Japan due to all of the different disasters that have been going on there. I hit up Brian from MA, who walked me through a quick primer on the basics of building S13 knuckles. I spent most of my first day in town at the shop, modding up the knuckles on this S13, and checking out the rest of the car.

 

Knuckle Up!

 

 

 

We got the knuckles finished up, but the rest of the car was far, far off. It was supposed to get dyno tuned that night, but it turned out being another full day and night until it did hit the dyno. I realized that we should probably explore other options at this time, as a backup plan is good when things are so up in the air. I talked to the guys at FX about what other cars might be available, they had a cefiro and an S14 that might work. We headed to the track to test the Cefiro, and much to my surprise, it was a REPLICA of MATT POWERS paint scheme. Hilarious! I have talked to some drift kids over there before and they told me how way into Matt Powers they were, which is pretty sweet. I’ve got to find a picture of that thing and put it up…..

Anyway, tried the cefiro and it broke up EVERYWHERE, as soon as it hit like 4k it just about shut off, so back to the drawing board……

Next day the replica S13 hit the dyno, I was waiting to get it on the track for practice, and hoped we could get it sorted out quickly, new cars can take quite a while to work out the kinks, but this was an S13, and hopefully would be pretty good right out of the box.  Car was supposed to arrive at noon, then 3, then we got the word that it blew up on the dyno, Whoops. ok, back to the drawing board again……

Now we have a few cars show up, this is the night before official practice day, and we still have no idea what I’m going to be driving, so this is what I drove, and what they were like-

S13 #2- Looked pretty solid, fit in the car alright, seemed super stiff, once we got it on track, it pulled pretty weak, realized it was a stock engine, with a small turbo, and after 2 runs it started to spray a ton of gas onto the motor—–NEXT

S13#3-Clean and all vinyled up (although with the wrong tire sponsor), we were told it was a brand new build, not really sorted yet, but to see how it felt. It felt FAST and out of control. Had a sweet, sweet 1jz motor in it, but it was super stiff, no power steering, and the wheels were rubbing pretty hard.—NEXT

S14#1-This was a Federation D Magazine car, it was nice looking, clean, but a little low on power, felt really heavy (i think it was a street car) and didn’t make much angle before the front wheels started to rub-NEXT

S14#1- This car looked WELL used, banged up, beat up, but the motor setup was supposed to be the jam, it was a 2.2 SR with 3037, drove it, and initially, it did feel pretty awesome. Especially compared to everything we had tried, inside it was a mess, everything was loose, but we had something that seemed useable. This seemed like the only logical choice.

 

We hit the track with the S14 in the morning, and it was pretty solid, running it around 70% she was pretty predictable, we got the car to steer right, and sorted the alignment and we laid down some pretty solid practice runs, but never felt really in control, the brakes were pretty wonky and I couldn’t get ahold of it. Realized that they’d cut and welded closed the rear brake line and it was making the car do some pretty funky things when I’d hit the brake pedal, Djan’s boys did what the could to fix it, and make it feel better, and it did get a bit better, but I never really felt great in it. Decided to take it out and lay down a few last “qualifying level” passes and on the first shot I came in pretty hot, dabbed the foot brake (I think it locked and stayed locked), which made it understeer pretty hard, tried to gather it up, it was not coming back, wound up hitting that wall, pretty damn hard and flipping it over. (this part you’ve seen). Not a great moment, but I was really just doing my best to make a decent showing out of the situation and probably pushed that car harder than I should have, whoops! I haven’t flipped a car before, but I was pretty aware of exactly what was going on, as it happened, I tried to throw it out while on the front brakes, wasn’t happening, tried again, no dice, realized I was going to hit that wall, and pretty damn hard, braced for impact, watched it bang up the wall, and watched the world flip upside in near slow-motion.

WHOOPS!

 

 

 

Once I got checked out by the medic and got a pain-killing spray on my neck, we decided to see what were our options were for another car, they had moved qualifying to the next day, to see if the field could fill back up from all the wrecks and people still signing up, so we were lucky in that way. I talked to Djan about his old AE86, but it had recently been sold, but he realized that he’d sold nearly all of his spare parts to a friend who build a very similar Corolla to his old car. A little bit apprehensive of another car that Djan’s team didn’t build, we sent for this 86, which showed up looking pretty buff, I drove it, and it feel basically out of control to me. The car was a built NA 16v 86 motor making 250hp, but about 120 of that was NOS, I haven’t driven a NOS car but once, and it’s the kind of thing where you have to keep it floored, the whole time (well about 85% throttle) to keep the NOS working, that, combined with manual steering and manual brakes made it feel WAY weird. I could not get ahold of this thing, while messing around with it in the parking lot. I asked Tengku Djan to give it a shot, since he should be able to figure out a car so similar to his 86, or at least give me some feedback on the thing. Djan gave it a few runs, and declared that the steering rack was “destroyed”. Great. I commited to driving it anyway, we made plans to get a new rack in it in the morning, and we’d have an hour and a half of practice to get the car sorted and get used to it.

 

 

 

 

Went to bed that night pretty uneasy, neck was sore from the flip, and our future with this 86 was pretty uncertain, not the way I want to go into any competition, let alone one with such a big purse that I flew halfway around the world to compete in…

Got the best sleep we could and hit the track in the morning, the car arrived, Djan’s boys had gotten the rack in already and were just getting it aligned when we arrived, I jumped into my suit, the temperature was BLAZING, and we came up with a plan for the day. We had never intended on using an 86, so we had ordered tires for 17 in rims, we managed to scrape up  4 new and 2 used Bridgestone Adrenaline Re001, and Djan had some old Re-01R’s in case we needed them. I spent that time in practice trying to get used to the car as quickly as possible, without using up all our tires, and pushing harder each time to see how the car reacted, without putting it back into the wall. After using one full pair of tires, which was 6 laps, I still hadn’t gotten a really decent lap out of that car, it was ALOT of work making that thing go, lots of steering work, and loads of commitment. We didn’t have much time or tire left, so we scuffed in the 2nd set of tires, gave it one more go, and got ready for qualifying. We qualified in order of car number which put me (96) nearly dead last, I hate waiting to qualify, and trying to stay focused. Ok, so time to qualify came, and I am generally able to put down some of my best stuff in qualifying, but i wasn’t very confident with this car, and hadn’t managed a good run yet. After waiting and waiting it was finally time for us to run, they were doing 3 judged, consecutive runs, which was good for me, since I’d be able to drive it back to back and make immediate adjustments (or so I hoped). Hit the track, first a practice run, then 3 judged, practice run was my first proper run in the car, there was only one way to drive this thing, FLOORED! Managed to lay down easily my best 3 runs of the day in qualifying, pushing harder each time, getting real close to the wall on my secondrun and somehow off 7th PLACE in qualfying!!!

2nd Qualifier, I think, right back up to that wall!

 

 

 

I was pretty pumped, only one other 86 qualified higher than I did (6th place) and was just happy to put up something respectable in this car. I had lined up Ariff Johanis, a pretty consistent S13 driver, that I was a few mph faster than in quals. I have seen Ariff drive a few times and he has a pretty slow initiation, but has good speed throughout the course. We were  near the very end of the top 16 (they run down the list differently) and finally hit the track. I was told that we were basically out of tires at this point, I’d used our last pair of Bridgestone Adrenaline Re-001′s to about 30% life, and we were gonna try to get through this first tandem battle on them, as the alternative were some super grippy Re-01R’s that we had as a last resort. It’s time to stage and run, I’m leading first, and I had a mildly sloppy initiation but managed to get around the course just fine, Ariff was much faster than I’d thought throughout the rest of the course and stayed real close for the majority of the run. Time to follow, and I knew I’d have to time my approach to Ariff, as I wasn’t really able to slow down and speed the corolla up easily, so I tried to give him a big gap and catch him at the end of the first turn. Wound up giving him a ton of gap, and had to REALLY haul ass to get up next to him, caught him pretty well as we flipped into the second turn, and ran right on him from there out.

 

 

 

I knew I’d that ugly first lap, and I didn’t know how it was going to go, rolled up to the judges, it was going OMT! (later found it was split and i’d won over at least one judge, woot) anyway, We were out of tires and I was going to give it a go on the Re-01R’s that we had never run, which was going to make the car much different, and I just went out and crossed my fingers…..Threw the car extra hard, anticipating the grip of the new tires, and botched it up pretty hard. Over-rotated the thing and came to a stop. Damn. Time to hope for a big mistake, and maybe I can pull something out of the follow run, I’m following Ariff to the first turn, and it might have been the grip of the new tires etc, but I’m having to really let him get out in front, finally I can initiate behind Ariff, and in the main big turn, in front of the wall, we are catching him, and fast! Ariff seemed to be SO much slower than the 86 on the new tire, and I was closing in on him fast, so it was either let off the gas (lose all the power from the NOS and possibly straighten into the wall) or run into him. I was NOT going back into that wall again, so i wound up wacking into the back of Ariff’s car. Just like that, our weekend was over, it was full of ups and downs, lots of frustration, but also lots of fun. I got to sit back afterwards and watch Tengku Djan kick everyone’s ass all over the track  (and eventually his own in the finals, winning him 2nd place)  and get ready for the after party. Malaysia is great fun, and I hope I get to go back soon, big thanks to FX Open for bringing me out, Bridgestone for letting me run some great tires, and Tengku Djan and crew for all their last minute help.

I’m off to FD Long Beach, one of the best FD events always, time to rest up, and get read for the Hold the Line series soon!!!!!

Here’s a bunch more random trip pictures: