Sep. 11, 2015
Kawabata Claims D1GP 2015 Series Championship Crown on Toyo Tires’ Home Turf of Osaka!
On Saturday, September 5, the D1 Grand Prix was contested for the first time in two years on Toyo Tires’ home turf of Osaka, where Team TOYO TIRES DRIFT ace Masato Kawabata wrapped up the 2015 Championship without even waiting for the series finale. This is Nagata reporting on the fifth D1 event from Maishima Sports Island, and now completely enamored by the world of D1 despite having previously been indifferent to the sport.
I felt firsthand the deafening roar of the machines racing by in the harsh sunlight cooled by an occasional autumn breeze, the tires gripping the road surface right before my eyes. Vision blurred by the white plumes of smoke and powder from the friction of the tires….once the smoke clears the contest is decided!
At this event, all eyes were on the current top-ranked series driver, Masato Kawabata. Would he claim the series championship here at Maishima before the final event was even contested?! Adding to the excitement was the fact that Kawabata and fellow teammate Akinori Utsumi were Kansai locals! With far more supporters on hand compared to other venues, the pressure was on to win this one for the fans.
The event kicked off with the tanso competition. Russian driver Georgy Chivchyan, a new addition to Team TOYO TIRES DRIFT this season, grabbed the early lead with an impressive display of high-speed drifting.
However, waiting to pounce on Chivchyan’s early lead was Kobe native Utsumi. Showing off transcendent technique from his signature dynamic burst-out move, Utsumi overtook Georgy to claim tanso honors! In doing so, Utsumi overtook even top-ranked tanso leader Kawabata to position himself for a run at the tanso series ranking crown. The victory earned rousing cheers from the united Toyo Tires fans.
The sense of oneness with the incredible driving of the athletes and the venue made me forget the heat and the sunburn. Well, not exactly. I made sure to liberally reapply the sunscreen : )
Despite the heat, the fans remained glued to their seats. The excitement of the crowd reached a peak as the race shifted to the tsuiso round.
The tsuiso pitted the season’s two top performers, Kawabata and Daigo Saito, against one another. However, the victory went to Saito, whose error-free performance eliminated Kawabata from contention.
Kawabata was visibly disappointed at being unable to win the event in front in his home town of Osaka, but in the consolation match he defeated Naoto Suenaga to impressively capture third place. Kawabata’s third-place finish, paired with his dominating season-long performance, was sufficient to wrap up the D1GP 2015 series championship!
Following the race, Kawabata commented,” All that was left to do was win. I owe my success to everyone’s support. I won’t rest on my laurels. I want to continue to evolve and deliver performances that will surprise everyone.”
The excitement of the Maishima event was captured from the air by drone.* The resulting footage provides a sense of being in the moment that can’t be experienced from the stands. Be sure to have another look at this impressive perspective.
*Permission was obtained for drone filming.
Only the Odaiba event remains of this season’s D1 GP series.
All eyes will be focused on the battle between two Toyo drivers: Utsumi, who will take aim at his first tanso series championship; and Kawabata, currently in third place, who will look to come from behind in the final event of the season to put the finishing touches on his season’s performance with a complete series victory.