Behind the Smoke: Stories from King of Nations 2018
Over the past few years, drifting in the Philippines has taken a bit of a hiatus from the general public. Thanks to botched events, shady organizers, and general decline of interest, our humble drifting community has taken a step back from holding large competitions as of late and instead enjoying the sport for what it is: Fun. Much as that is the whole point of the sport, local folks could use some proper education from the true pros of drifting – this is where King of Nations comes in.
Shipping in several professional drivers and their cars, King of Nations have prepared a true challenge for the local folks to take on. Pair that with foreign judges, a strict race format, and even stricter scrutineering, King of Nations brought a new level of professionalism to the sport for all competitors. That said, this new configuration presented many different sets of challenges for all drivers – and we aim to capture the different sets of challenges our local talents had to face throughout the weekend.
The main attraction of this event was the presence of Daigo Saito and his 2012 Formula D champion car, the Monster Energy/Fat Five Racing Lexus SC430. Armed with 1200HP and a lightweight, open-top chassis, Saito ran the course in top form throughout the whole weekend. Billows of smoke followed the convertible Lexus wherever it went, and despite knowing that he’ll take the top step for the weekend his technique was a spectacle for both audiences and fellow competitors alike.
Joining the heavy-hitting foreign contingent were Hong Kong driver Charles Ng and Thai driver Wuttitat Pangumnerd. Ng, a former Formula D driver, brought along an S13 Silvia running a 2JZ good for roughly a thousand horses and laid down some pretty consistent runs throughout the weekend. Despite that though, Pangumnerd managed to edge him out for second overall with a superb run in his 2JZ KE Corolla – with Nos.
Other competitors like Hirohide Tanaka didn’t have much luck heading towards the Top 32. While he laid down solid qualifying runs earning him a bye-run into the Top 16, his Supra suffered from a hub issue prior to tandems that prevented him from proceeding.
Perhaps our best bet for sticking with the foreigners that weekend was Luis Gono and the Autoplus Motul 240SX. With 570whp out of its SR20, a sequential transmission, and a bunch of Wisefab bits underneath, the young Gono and his S13 was expected to be the most competitive vehicle among the local entries. Unfortunately the car suffered from LSD issues post-qualifying, a torn screamer pipe, and ultimately a failed alternator and fuel regulator eventually brought it to retirement at the Top 8.
The crew from DMF Drift had their share of fun over the course of the weekend. Trash talking Friendly banter between drivers Jet Mathay and Patrick Ng early on led to an interesting twist for their weekend – a matchup for the Top 32s. The funny part is, whoever won their match would line up against Daigo Saito for the Top 16. Their matchup then was a good opener into the tandems on Sunday, as Jet edged Pat out to go on and be eaten by Daigo.
Being the local series champion for roughly 6 years, Alex Perez would be one of the more competitive entrants among the locals in his R32 Skyline. With his car barely making it to the event with a freshly tuned RB25 paired with his long hiatus from the sport, Alex soldiered on throughout the weekend all through to tandems till he met with Saito in the Top 8. Seeing our local champion against the best of the best was somewhat of a treat for long-time followers of the drifting community.
DMF Drift Boss David Feliciano was effectively shaking down his 1JZ RPS13 240SX after having to work on a bunch of client’s cars leading up to the weekend. Thanks to the team and a lot of overtime, it appeared as if the 1J 240SX was running fairly well for a car that was barely finished as the weekend drew closer. David had to bow out to Luis Gono in the Top 16 though as the powerful Autoplus car just had much more pace going up the first corner.
Jason ‘The Destroyer’ Choachuy lived up to his moniker by bringing what appeared to be a plain white S14 Silvia – except he didn’t have third gear during the whole weekend. Throughout qualifying and well into the tandems he would shift from second into fourth and let the RB25 under the bonnet do the rest of the work. Thanks to his aggressive entries into the first corner he would always have enough momentum to complete the whole course, let’s see you try to do that without third gear.
Car Porn Racing’s Gabe Tayao appears to be following his uncle Kevin Tayao’s footsteps by getting his feet wet in drifting. While he’s more known in karting and more recently in circuit circles, it appears he’s trying to diversify his skill set by also making his Toyota 86 go sideways. A few weeks prior to the event the FA20 you’d normally find under the hood has been swapped out for a 1JZ-GTE by DMF Drift. And while Gabe managed to finish in the Top 4 during the Amateurs it seems the Pro course layout proved a bit of a challenge for the young Tayao.
Over at the GMW camp team head honcho Boodie Dabasol was busy sorting out a wastegate issue with his SR20-powered 1st gen Mitsubishi Lancer throughout qualifying and well into the tandem runs. While that issue caused rev cuts in the upper ranges, Boodie managed to fight his way to the Top 8 where he was edged out by Charles Ng’s mighty S13.
The true surprise for the weekend however comes from GMW’s amateur entrant Hans Jimenez. Borrowing a 1UZ Corolla DX from team coach/spotter Mark Bernardo, not only did Hans win the amateur competition on Friday – he went on to qualify with the pros and ‘somehow’ made it to 4th overall after a string of good fortune at the expense of his opponents. All this would be a feat for any aspiring drifter, but the true icing on the cake is the fact that King of Nations is Hans’ debut into the sport – at the ripe age of 16.
With a measly 220whp out of the V8 Corolla, nobody was expecting Hans to stack up against Daigo Saito when they lined up in the semi finals. Despite the rather default victory, the fact that this kid made it from amateur before the weekend all the way to battling against one of drifting’s all-time greats is an honor in itself.
Following the many spectacles from the King of Nations weekend, it’s safe to say that the local drivers have picked up a thing or two from watching the real pros first-hand. Off the bat, we’ve heard plenty of talks about shoving 2JZs into anything for next year’s competition considering just how well the Top 3 finished running the stalwart Toyota motor. So, can we expect our local talents to step up to the plate next year?
Words by Aurick Go
Photos by Jaime Miguel Echavez, Jose Altoveros, and Aurick Go