Daigo Saito: The drifting Niinja!

Published on November 26th, 2013

Every now and then, we have our very own favourites be it an artistes, cars, bikes, idols, sportsmen and even drivers regardless of the kinda discipline and sure as hell there are a whole lotta categories in various championships all over the world. Surely enough, the most famous of it all when it comes to four wheels is the Formula 1 with millions of viewers locked on the tubes every F1 weekend and not to mention those who experience it live on the ground.

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But then, we’re not gonna talk about Formula 1. There are more than enough exposures, articles, coverages and a whole lotta interviews surrounding the Formula 1. The drift scene has been catching up all over the world and the following has been increasing tremendously. It might not be at par with Formula 1 but surely drift is the next best thing.

We all know that the drift discipline started in Italy where the earliest recorded drift ever in history was done by Tazio Novolari when Enzo noticed that he had turned in early into a corner. As Enzo would thought that Tazio would crash but instead, he had slide in control with its rear end swaying away. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is the earliest of the drift scene you can find in the books. Move up front a couple of century and on a different region, Japan to be exact, drifting was made popular by that cartoon Initial D where the tofu seller uses the rear wheel driven AE86 as his mode of transportation. Somewhere along the way, his adventures turned into a tire smoking and drain railing cornering fast action cartoon. Or anime if you prefer.

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Ever since then, drifting had begun as a sport and later into a motoring discipline along side with drag racing, circuit racing, endurance and the lots, not to mention the demolition derby, oh wait, I just did! Anyhow, out of these disciplines, there will surely raise a champion amongst the competitors. Kings if you may. Or even the prince or queen if you want to be a little bit nearer to the ground. And as kings change over the years, so do the king of drifting competitions. The newly crowned king is none other than Daigo Saito from Japan.

Currently competing in the D1 Grand Prix series for Fnatz Professional Garage and holds the distinction of being the first driver to win the two drifting majors, D1GP in 2008 and Formula D in 2012 making him unstoppable in going up hll in the ranks as the one of the best drifters to date.

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From an early age he was into motorbikes as his father was, and got his motorcycle license at the age of 16. One night, when he was out riding with his friends they stumbled upon a drift meeting in the hills of Karuizawa, there he saw a white Mercedes-Benz saloon drifting. From then on he wanted to drift himself and he wanted to drift a saloon. As soon as he was 18 he got his drivers license, his father did not want him to drift so he bought him a Mini Cooper as his first car which would not be a good car to drift so he tried, and ended up writing it off. He then bought a Nissan Silvia S13 without asking his parents and set about practicing, his first practice session lasted 36 hours only stopping for food and fuel. He learned a lot from this first practice session though he totalled the Nissan Silvia S13 a couple of weeks later.

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In 2005, Saito won the title for privateers. Unlike most D1 drivers his work is not connected to his drifting, as he lives and works at a nursery school, though he is mainly in charge of the animals he is also in charge of driving the bus when the children go on outings. He started competing in the D1 Grand Prix in the third round of the 2004 season in his red Toyota Mark II JZX90 since then he has improved steadily, winning the championship in 2008.

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And from the Toyota he would then already knew that his weapon of choice would be from Toyota itself with their premium brand Lexus. The Lexus had propelled him further up in the ladder in 2012 with the Lexus SC430 with 1200bhp made for the race in Formula D and the  900bhp IS250 for the Formula D Asia in the south east Asian region.  But the one you want to take not is this ISC with the same 1200bhp power on the tap. As you can see on the specs at the side of the page, this is probably the only driver specific drift car with an enormous amount of horsepower made to drift where only Saito can nurse it easily during the slides, twists and switchbacks on the tire smoke full tarmac.

From the drift car itself you can see that Daigo Saito has what it takes to take on future drift championship around the world as he had prove that he can tame the beast to prefecting his angles, and his sights for the trophies.

words: Jeo  pix: Hazwan Najims & Dice Photowerks

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