Podium copy

Track: Orlando Speed World
Orlando, FL

Date: 4/29/17

Qualifying position: 1st

Finishing position: 3rd

Notes of interest:

  • Strong qulifying round helps Dai achieve success
  • Bye round gets Dai into top 16
  • Third place finish makes up for disappointing opening round

Round 2 of Formula DRIFT took place at Orlando Speed World on April 28-29. ENEOS-sponsored driver, Daijiro Yoshihara had a point to prove to himself and his fans after disappointment at the opening round in Long Beach, CA.

Mechanical gremlins were to blame for the poor performance in Round 1, and Thursday practice brought its own technical problems. “The hot, humid conditions and bumpy track caused a few problems,” Dai said. “Some bolts were shaken loose, so the team worked late into the night to get the car ready for Friday qualifying.”

All the hard work paid off and Dai qualified first after some intense runs. “The car felt very strong and I was driving well. It came as a huge relief to see my name at the top of the qualifying sheet,” Dai said. “We were able to prove the car was as fast as pre-season testing had shown.”

Saturday is the Big Day and, as the top qualifier, Dai was handed a huge boost with a “bye” round. This meant he could sit out the Top 32 runs and instantly qualify for the Top 16. “A bye round is a tremendous gift because you don’t have to risk damaging the car. Admittedly, any track time is appreciated but it gave us more time to prep the car,” Dai said.

In his first heat, Dai would run against Nate Hamilton. Driving an 800hp LSX-engined Nissan 240SX, Nate put up a good fight against Dai’s 900hp LSX-engined Subaru BRZ. However, a mistake by Nate allowed Dai to open a gap between the two cars, which his competitor was unable to close.

The victory took Dai into the Top 8 where he met Dean Kearny. The Irish driver has a 1350hp turbocharged Dodge Viper and can be hard to beat. “I watched both runs on video and it was very difficult to separate us,” Dai admitted. “Dean’s a great driver and it almost came down to “One More Time” (where drivers who can’t be separated by the judges run a third time to decide a winner). However, I think I was able to stay closer to him when I was following, which tipped the decision in my favor.”

In the semi-final, Dai (the 2011 Formula DRIFT champion) would run against Michael Essa (2013 FD champion) in his 900hp BMW M3 turbo. Again, both drivers had impeccable runs and the crowd was calling for “One More Time.” In the end, Dai thinks the judges decided in favor of Essa based on the difference of their entry into the first corner – it was that tight.

Michael would finish second to Frederic Aasbo in the Final, while Dai was given third place by virtue of his first place qualifying position.

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“It felt so good to be on the podium. It was a big relief to be there after the problems at Long Beach and proves we have a really strong car. Of course, I keep thinking I could have won, but this inspires me to keep pushing.”
-Dai Yoshihara

The next round is in Atlanta in two weeks. It’s one of Dai’s favorite tracks, where he’s won in the past and finished second last year. “I’m really looking forward to Atlanta and building on this success,” Dai said with renewed confidence.

Season schedule:

Mar 31 – Apr 1 Streets of Long Beach  View recap Long Beach, CA NC
Apr 28 – 29 Uncharted Territory Orlando, FL  3rd
May 12 – 13 Road to the Championship Atlanta, GA
Jun 2 – 3 The Gauntlet Wall, NJ
Jul 14 – 15 True North Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Aug 4 – 5 Throwndown Monroe, WA
Sep 8 – 9 Showdown Texas Motor Speedway
Oct 13 – 14 Title Fight Irwindale, CA
TV coverage: All Formula DRIFT rounds can be streamed live from formulad.com/live or watched on delay on CBS Sports www.cbssports.com (see listings for details)

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