Street Talk catches up with Daigo Saito – 2012 Formula D Champion.
For the first time in Formula Drift history, a rookie has won the Series Championship, leading me to believe that maybe there’s hope for my drifting dreams after all! I recently caught up with Daigo Saito for a brief chat, to get his take on winning the championship, practicing his craft and more.
After climbing out of his racing harness and removing his racing helmet, Daigo Saito was crowned the 2012 Formula Drift Champion at the series finale at Irwindale Speedway in California. Saito, while a rookie in Formula D, is no stranger to drifting, having previously won both the Formula DRIFT Asia Championship and the D1 Championship. His win here in the U.S. as a rookie, however, is sure to inspire drifting enthusiasts everywhere with dreams of a professional racing career.
Piloting the Achilles Tire/Bridges Racing Lexus SC430, Daigo said that winning the Formula D championship and his other victories haven’t come easy. “I know it’s very hard to win any championship so I wouldn’t say one is easier than the other,” Daigo explains. “It was just very hard to get everything ready since I don’t live in the states and do not speak the language.”
When asked if he had any plans on winning the Formula D championship in just his rookie year in the US series, Daigo said, “Of course I had high hopes of trying to win the championship, but it was not easy at all. I had doubts at times during the season but it all came together at the end. I think I concentrated on doing what I had to do, and thanks to my sponsors, they made it a lot easier for me.”
Despite the impressive string of drifting wins, Daigo seems like he’d be more comfortable talking about his car’s sway bar control or polyurethane bushings instead of about being called the best drifter in the world—a description that’s being used more frequently to describe him. “I wouldn’t say I’m the best, but I would like to find out; [maybe] if there were a world championship somewhere where everyone was able to compete at their best and go head to head.”
As for advice to future drifting enthusiasts—beyond the common sense practice of wearing a racing harness and other safety equipment—Daigo offered his opinion about the most important vehicle component in a winning drift car.
“There are a lot of things [that are] important, but the most important thing would probably be an LSD (limited-slip differential). And I would say you should practice a lot. Practice makes perfect.” And for drivers working on a drift car on a budget, Daigo recommends they concentrate their limited resources on tires.
Removing any doubt surrounding his plans to return to Formula D in 2013, Daigo says, “Definitely, yes!” when asked if he’d be returning for another season. Formula D fans will have to get through the winter first, though, before they can see him back in his racing harness or their favorite drivers in racing helmets, as the series doesn’t return until April 12, 2013.
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