Monday, November 28, 2016

JUDGEMENT DAY 2016: Making History Sideways

And finally, they were here. Top drivers from Japan, Middle East, Malaysia and the UK came down to the Philippines to battle it out with our top local drifters for the first ever international drifting competition to come to our country. Judgement Day 2016 is the biggest drifting event to hit the Philippines to date. 

The long wait was finally over. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening as I was driving to Clark International Speedway on November 19, 2016. Crazy excited, I didn’t know whether to run or sprint entering the pit walk at CIS. As soon as I made that last turn, gate after gate, one familiar monster car after another. The Philippine team busy working on their cars. Luis Gono’s 240SX, Audel Sison’s S13, John Boban’s Soarer… these are the cars I always see in our local scene. But this time it felt different. Seeing them being prepped for an international race gave me butterflies. You can sense the pressure in the air but in true pinoy fashion, everyone was relaxed but their excitement was palpable.

Photo Credit: Jenna V Genio via Judgement Day 2016 FB Page

Afraid to miss a single thing, I was walking slowly looking at each and every car when I suddenly found myself staring at a Nissan Sylvia so regal in red, it stopped me dead in my tracks. It was Toni“Half Breeds” Arakaki’s S14. This car has as her pilot, not only the first Filipino-Japanese drifter ever to go pro in Japan and Europe, but also the man responsible for bringing all the international drivers to our country. Being an integral part of this whole event, my only regret is not being able to shake Toni Arakaki’s hand and thank him for ticking one huge item off my bucket list. 

A few steps away, I swear everything went in slow motion as I saw the most badass Toyota Chaser that roamed the Earth. Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, it was Daigo Saito’s JZX! Okay, so this was the moment when things just got real. This car right here, to me, is a unicorn. Something I never thought I would ever see outside the little screen on YouTube. It started to sink in… drifting legend Daigo Saito is really here, and he will be burning rubber on Philippine soil.

Photo Credit: Joey Storm Rivero
After an hour of gawking, the race was about to start. I got a VIP ticket that allowed me to stay in an enclosed air-conditioned room. But we're talking about watching 800 HP cars here. Its a whole new ballgame. If I didn’t hear those engines right in front of me and didn't go home covered in rubber, I won’t be able to live with myself. So I went down to the tracks and got a spot by the first turn.

Photo Credit: Jenna V Genio (via Judgement Day FB Page) /
 Now, if you could kindly give me a minute as I express my obsession with how magnificent team Japan’s cars were. Their cars range from 500-800 HPs. The vibration, the sound, and even the smell… you know you’re in the presence of a higher level of mechanical genius with their cars. It was surreal watching them in action.

Photo Credit: Jenna V Genio (via Judgement Day FB Page) /
Must get a picture with Daigo Saito of course!

The race was exhilarating to say the least. Daigo Saito's Chaser retired mid-race but it did not faze him one single bit. He still effortlessly made his way into the finals with a loaned Chaser from fellow Japanese drifter, Hirohide Tanaka. But honestly now, no surprise there. This is why he’s currently one of the top drifters in the world. Watching him take on CIS, in my head I kept on asking, “Is he even trying?” because it seemed too easy for him. An aggressive entry, but he controls that slide so gracefully it seemed like it could go for miles holding an angle. If I were the chase car, I would’ve definitely gotten a zero score for gawking at him and forgetting to drift. He was mesmerizing to watch.
Going against seasoned drivers, it was during the tandem runs where our local drifters' cars and skills were really tested. But that did not stop Luis Gono in bagging a slot in the finals against Saito. After a series of tight runs, it was during that last OMT ("one more time") when Gono's 240sx gave out due to a broken exhaust manifold and ultimately gave the win to Saito. Not at all disappointing. It was already an honor seeing one of our Filipino drivers go against a global top drifter, even more for a shot at first place. (Watch the final battle HERE!)
Photo Credit: Franz Gaw Photography (via Judgement Day FB Page)
Even though our local cars were well under powered compared to the Japs, you can see the fight in our drivers with every run. Personally, I wasn't hell-bent on seeing a Filipino driver win because that's not really the point. Just seeing them race against the top drivers from all over the globe is already a winning moment on it's own. Imagining all the hard work they put into preparing for a race as huge as this and I’m sure all fans would agree when I say, trophy or none, they made us feel so damn proud.

1st Place - Daigo Saito, Chaser (Japan)
2nd Place - Luis Gono, 240sx (Philippines)
3rd Place - Keiiteru Kadekaru, S14 (Japan) 
After all is said and done, Judgement Day 2016 was never just about the competition. Not only was this a chance for our drivers to learn and observe the skill and track discipline of seasoned international drifters, this event was done to create an opportunity for the Philippine drifting scene to rise a up a level and get one foot in that door to an international platform. This event was a licensing competition for Federal Tyres King of Nations/Asia. Now that they obtained their licenses, this is just the beginning of something bigger as KON comes to the Philippines on May of 2017. We are now part of a HUGE international drift series. To Collab Philippines, AutoPhile.phFederal Tyres King of Nations, and all the organizers and sponsors, a standing ovation to you. Judgement Day 2016 was an event that made Philippine Motorsport history.

King of Nations Round 5 and King of Asia Round 3 will be held in the Philippines
Source: Half Breeds Drifting


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