The first ever Toyota Drift Muscle was held with special guests-of-honour Keiichi Tsuchiya, also known as the Drift King, Daijiro Inada, founder of Option Magazine and Tokyo Auto Salon and Drift Muscle's 2013 Champion Kenji Kiguchi in the Philippines. This historical event was held at the famous Quirino Grandstand Parade Grounds.
Boodie of team GMW and his boosted Lancer.
John Boban of Team Driftmob smokin' his Toyota Soarer!
Nissan S15 losing control at the second corner hitting the elevated side walk.
Luckily the weather cooperated with us, a cloudy sky with no sign of rain, during the introduction of a truly remarkable yet humble Drift King Keiichi Tsuchiya. I first met him at his visit to my province at Clark Field Pampanga, to see how the Clark International Speedway look like. He and his team was lead by Audel Sison of Team Autocraft Drift, Audel being one of the organizer for this first ever Drift Muscle Philippines (reason why he was not competiting in this competition).
Proceeding in the event proper, the practice round started with many drifters nervous because they are not used to speeds this fast. From the qualifying rounds, the Top 16 will be selected. Drift Muscle organizers also brought some of their exclusive apparels like t-shirts and towels, selling them for Php1,500 (SG$50) together with an autograph of Keiichi Tsuchiya.
Even the mighty Godzilla joins the event.
Different colors, one brand.
The final practice round started at around 1pm and for the drifters who did not finish their practice sessions from day 1, this will have been their last chance. Being one of the few priviledged to get inside the track before the battle started, I positioned myself in the first corner on the top of the tow truck, no matter what happens, at least I know I'm planted on something firm and solid.
Drift King Keiichi Tsuchiya, doing some donuts for the kids.
After an hour, while they were choosing the qualifiers in the Top 16, Keiichi took a Toyota 86 sideways with a few lucky kids riding shot-gun with the Drift King as he drifted the 86 within the circuit.
The Drift Muscle drifter Kenji Okazaki using our local drifters car, Autocraft Drift's Nissan S13.
The top 16 line up.
Time ran very fast, Keiichi decided to start the competition from the top 16 of the chosen drifters. They were Jesus Salas, Joma Montaner, Mark Bernardo, Ralph Tan, Gio Rodriguez, John Boban, Tin-tin David, Radrich Albano, Luis Gono, Paolo Agregado, Norman Agojo, Boodie Dabasol, Jonathan Chua Chui, David Feliciano, Alex Perex and Raymond Ronquillo.
Jesus Salas as the lead car in the first battle and Joma Montaner as the chase car, Jesus Salas outran Joma and moved to the Top 8. The second tandem battle was between Mark Bernardo driving the blue 180sx competing with Ralph Tan who was driving the white 190E Mercedes, Ralph outran Mark and moved to the top 8.
Gio Rodriguez, driver of the Nissan R35 conversion against John Boban the driver of the red Soarer, who lost it to Gio, moving him up to the top 8. Keiichi himself was impressed and said, very good! Can you imagine the pressure inside their chests, being judged by the Drift King himself.
The only female drifter Tin-tin David, driver of the white Mfest S14 against Radrich Albano in the blue S15 police car. Both won their respective rounds with Keiichi finally deciding on sudden death. Radrich spunout of the track and Tin-tin moved on to the top 8.
Luis Gono, the youngest drifter competing at the tender age of 15 impressed the Japanese guys, Keiichi was pleased and said he was like a Japanese drifter, because in Japan they are very consistent in every angle and speed. Luis Gono fought against Pao Agregado, driver of the white/orange Trueno. People were shouting as they watched this young boy drift with perfect speed and angles. Luis moved to the top 8.
Norman Agojo driver of the gray S15 against Boodie Dabasol the driver of the boosted orange Lancer, both of them made mistakes in their first run, and in the second run Norman Agojo understeered and Boodie moved to the top 8.
David Feliciano driver of the white/blue S13, one of the pioneer drifters in the Philippines battled against Jason Chuachuy in the white Mercedes, both were good enough to have an even score after the first round, but Jason understeered during the second round moving David up to the top 8.
Alex Perez driver of the yellow S13.5 fought against Raymond Ronquillo, driver of the blue S13. Alex gets the advantage pulling a big gap and moves up to the top 8.
Jesus made a mistake during his first tandem run and the points were given to Ralph. He understeered on their second fight, pushing Ralph into top 4. Gio got the advantage since Tin-tin lost her line on their first tandem, and although Tin-tin wasn't left behind, the point was given to Gio, putting him into the top 4. Boodie made a mistake twice while Luis was consistent with his performance, with Keiichi saying he did a really good job. On their second tandem; Luis outran Boodie, winning him the third top 4 spot. The last battle of the top 8 contenders was between David and Alex, with the former understeering and giving the last spot in the top 4 to Alex.
Gio on the R35 conversion and Ralph on the 190E Merc.
Ralph took a healthy lead from Gio, and yet something fell from his car which resulted in him spinning out of the track, letting Gio advance onto the championship round. Luis got the first advantage during his first tandem with Alex with a good speed and angle in his first and second corner. During their second tandem, Alex did a good job while Luis made a mistake on the final corner. Third tandem, Luis got the advantage once again which leads them into a sudden death, whoever loses this battle will face Ralph Tan to fight for the third place, Luis lost his speed on the final corner, moving Alex to the championship round.
Luis and Ralph battle for the third place, Luis made a mistake on the first and second corner and lost his speed, crowning Ralph the second runner up.
Alex over speeds and hits a cone on the first corner, dropping his front bumper (what a cone).
Between Alex and Gio, the winner of this final battle wins this competition and gets crowned the first ever Toyota Drift Muscle winner in the Philippines. On their first tandem, Alex oversteered into the first corner and hit a cone, with points awarded to Gio. The second tandem was a tight fight, Keiichi shouted one more time with the crowd shouting along. In their third tandem, Alex understeers at the final corner giving the win to Gio. Keiichi announced the winner as Gio Rodriguez straight away, who was still fresh from winning last week's Hyundai Lateral Drift Champion!
Keiichi Tsuchiya handed the trophy to the first ever Drift Muscle champion, Gio Rodriguez. How awesome is that!?
2nd placer Alex Perez said this event wouldn't have been possible without the audience, he's also very thankful for his sponsors.
3rd placer Ralph Tan saying his thanks to his supporters, especially so to his sponsors and family.
The winners gave their speech thanking all their sponsors and the audience who made the event possible, they also thanked Keiichi Tsuchiya and his team for having organized such a fantastic and successful event. They are hoping for more series to come in the upcoming year 2014.
Be ready for 2014 because Drift Muscle Philippines will be back, bigger and better, Audel said. Keiichi Tsuchiya also gave his thanks to the crowd and was pleased with the outcome of the event, especially that it wasn't just a successful event, rather this event had helped the recent typhoon survivors in Tacloban. So guys, buckle up, prepare your drift car, practice hard and we'll see each other on the next year's Drift Muscle Philippines.