Drivers once again ventured from across the globe as Round 3 of the Federal Tyres King of Nations series returned to Nikko Circuit, Japan alongside the opening round of the 2017 King of Asia series powered by ST suspensions.
Having played host for the past two years, Nikko attracts many local drivers to battle it out against some of the top international entrants.
The ‘Drift King’, head judge Keiichi Tsuchiya returned alongside Vernon Zwaneveld and Zai Hamdan, the layout was decided and the drivers were once again pushed for aggressive, fast driving as the requirement which the drivers were more than happy to show the fans.
After a morning of practice at the legendary Japanese circuit, it would be 2015 King of Asia winner Naoki Nakamura who took the pole position in qualifying, pushing his new Nissan S15 build to its absolute boundaries.
Local driver Kouji Tokusa also showed off some stunning driving, clinching himself second place whilst Daisuke Fakuda took third.
Car issues ended the day early for Daigo Saito, who opted to swap his JZX100 for his insane new 800hp/900kg Corvette GT300 build.
The competition proved too fierce as the International drivers such as Kuwait’s Nasser Almutairi, France’s Alex Francois and Brazil’s Andre Silva bowed out early against some of the incredible local talent.
Toni ‘Half Breeds’ Arakaki would find himself up against Takafumi Yamaguchi in the Top 32 battle between the two experienced Okinawa drivers. Despite Arakaki taking the lead in his lead run, a mistake in his chase allowed Yamaguchi to face Kouji Tokusa in the Top 16.
Despite taking second place at last year’s King of Nations round here, Rui Ando’s weekend would be cut short by Hiraoka Hideo in the Top 16 after a mistake from Ando forced him out of the competition.
Naoki Nakamura’s fine form once again continued as he succeeded past Keiichiro Kadekaru in their Top 16 battle, before also ensuring his place in the semi-final after ending an impressive weekend from Wataru Saito.
Miki Takagi was one of two female drivers competing throughout the weekend and after a one-more-time battle in the Top 16 against Hirohide Tanaka, she would find herself in the Top 8 before Hiaroka Hideo narrowly pushed his way to the semi-final.
Daigo Saito kept the fans jaws dropping throughout the battles as he pushed his way past Daisuke Fukuda, Kentaro Kawai and Norio Saito before meeting second place qualifier Kouji Tokusa in the semi-finals.
There was no doubt that the fans were hoping to see a Nakamura vs Saito final, and they surely didn’t disappoint as they both passed their opponents to fight for the top podium spot!
A close small final between Kouji and Hiraoka saw a 6-4 advantage in Hiraoka’s favour, Kouji was unable to claw back the vital point as a 5-5 draw would decide the third spot on the podium – in Hiraoka’s favour!
Daigo was set out to prove his brand new Corvette GT300 build is yet another successfully crazy creation as he took the early advantage in his chase run. Despite pushing his new SR powered S15 to its absolute limits, Nakamura didn’t quite manage to steal the vital point in his chase run and a 5-5 score handed Daigo Saito his second King of Nations victory of the season!
Daigo Saito has increased his lead with Luke Fink’s temporary absence at the top of the King of Nations leaderboard. Having taken the top spot in qualifying, Naoki Nakamura currently sits at the top of the King of Asia rankings with Saito in second and Hideo Hiraoka in third.