Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2011

Postponed until Jun 4-5. The event will now be held at a special venue near the “Fune no Kagakukan” monorail stn in Koto-ku, Tokyo.

If you have already purchased reserved seat tickets for Mar 26-27, you will be able to use them for the Jun 4-5 dates.
–The Mar 26 event corresponds to the Jun 5 event
–The Mar 27 ticket corresponds to the Jun 6 event
–Seat numbers remain the same

If you want to retain your ticket please advise us with your name. If you would like a refund, please return the refund form that we have sent you. Refund applications will be accepted between Mar 25-Apr 23.
Tokyo Drift will resume selling tickets for the Jun 4-5 events from May 7. Dates are subject to change and fans are advised to check the official D1GP/Metropolis pages for info.

Tokyo Drift wishes to express its deepest condolences to the victims of the Great Tohoku Earthquake. D1GP is committed to holding charitable events to aid the relief effort during the 2011 D1GP Series.

One of the problems with motorsports in Japan is that circuits tend to be in remote areas, so it’s not easy for Tokyoites to see top-level events. But there’s one sport that doesn’t need a large circuit—or, indeed, much of a circuit at all. In fact, it can be enjoyed in the heart of Tokyo.

Yes, it’s Drifting in Odaiba. Tokyo’s very own beachside paradise has hosted various activities from beach volleyball to pop concerts, but on March 26 and 27, the raucous rubber-burning sport of Drifting will crank the intensity level up several notches. “Amazing cars, superb drivers, speed, sound and smoke all happening in the middle of the metropolis,” says a Drift spokesperson. “No words can fully describe the experience.”

Which isn’t to say that people haven’t tried. Drifting has been described as “a theatrical motorsport that is more akin to combat or martial arts.” Although it’s not a rival to MMA, there’s a lot of motorized muscle involved. Anyone who’s attended a Drift event will tell you that nothing can compare to the brutal tire-burning mania of souped-up cars hurtling through corners at high speed in a controlled slide. The noise of the engines, the squeal of the tires and the spectacular smoke-filled contests generate endless excitement. Drifting events are now held in 35 countries around the world, but Japan—where the sport originated—is still the center of the Drifting universe.

“In Japan alone, on a cumulative basis more than 15 million people come into contact with the sport every year,” says the D1 Grand Prix Series spokesperson. “The D1 GP—the world’s best Drifting series—is broadcast in more than 20 countries across the globe and is continuing to grow.” Japan’s D1 GP circuit is having discussions to bring events to the US, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and the Middle East; the sport is already popular in Australia, New Zealand and Italy, and drivers from the US, Asia and Europe compete in the D1 Series.

The man to beat in the Japan Series this year will once again be the “King” of Drifting, Yoichi Imamura, who first won the championship in 2003 and has kept hold of the title for the last two years. The last man to best him, Daigo Saito, has renewed his challenge by switching from Yokohama to Hankook tires. A better burn? We’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, Masao Suenaga of RE Amamiya will be unveiling his new RX-8 and Kuniaki Takahashi of Kunny’s will be showcasing his Mark X.

A number of rule changes have also been implemented to make this year’s contests more exciting. The points system has been overhauled, so the preliminary tanso (solo-run) tournament becomes much more important. The top 24 drivers will be awarded points that count towards their overall ranking, and there will also be a separate competition to crown the tanso champion. In the past, drivers who earned enough points to make it to the top 16 in the first round had the luxury of not having to push themselves to the limit in the second round, but under the new points system, drivers won’t be able to take their foot off the gas, as every point counts towards their overall ranking.

Another big change is in the number of drivers in the tsuiso (dual-run) tournament: 24 competitors will now battle it out, compared to 16 in previous years. With a larger pool of drivers, up-and-coming stars will have a better chance to showcase their skills, and with a bigger mix of talents, the tsuiso tournament will become much more exciting. The judging system is getting a facelift, too, with the number of officials increasing from three to five.

In a single decade, Drifting has gone from a relatively unknown sport to a massive national and international event. What was once an outlaw pastime is now a huge mainstream event. Unlike most motorsports, Drifting is more about style than speed. It’s not a matter of first to the post; Drifting requires technique and control. It’s more of an art than its wild practitioners might care to admit. But it’s an art with attitude.

The Odaiba D1 GP event offers a fantastic chance to see this spectacular sport up close. Don’t miss it—or the Drift Race Queens!

D1 Grand Prix Series 2011

Mar 26, Opening Round; Mar 27, Second Round.
8am-6:30pm, Odaiba NOP Area special course.
Admission: ¥7,500 (S1 & S2 areas), ¥6,500 (S3 area), ¥6,000 (S4 area)*.
Nearest stn: Fune-no-kagakukan, Yurikamome line. To purchase tickets see www.metropolis.co.jp/drift.

*Separate tickets required for each day. Children aged 12 and under can enter free, but tickets are required if the child needs a seat.