1st Place For GCG Sponsored Andy Gray Team Powervehicles Japan
Congrats to Andy Gray, 3 time Formula Drift Japan Champion for his 1st place finish at Okuibuki Formula Drift. His Powervehicles JZX100 Mark 2, 2JZ turbocharged Garrett G42-1200 supplied the power he needed to fight some tough battles and come out on top. Performance Distributor GCG Turbo provides Andy and his team with the turbo support and tech needed to operate at this level of competition. From turbos to ancillary components GCG is still an independent family business and the company has grown to be one of the most respected turbocharger suppliers with a collection of industry-revered awards and a worldwide customer base.
Okuibuki was the only track we hadn’t won on so I was determined to do well after the disappointment of a top 32 at Fuji and the importance it held for the Championship. Friday started off with pretty wet conditions so we ran the car at very low tyre pressures to keep control in the tight course. The biggest challenge was the track conditions as the rain dried up the track became harder to drive so we opted for much higher tire pressures finishing the day feeling happy with both setups. On the last lap of the day Andy got a little too close to the car in front and made slight contact which was to cause a lot of trouble the next day due to a damaged steering rack. We swapped out a steering rack after the contact on Friday and had the car dialed in by the 1st qualifying lap! I was a little short on the 1st outzone due to it being my 1st lap of the day but filled the rest of the zones well and got a 90.
Sunday started badly….As I pulled out of the pits for morning practice my LSD final gear failed. The team changed it as fast as possible and we managed to get a handful of laps before Top 32. My top 32 was a bye run as Veteran Driver Murayama broke a knuckle in the warmup zone and couldn’t fix it in time. We met the fans in the autograph session and handed out stickers. There was a kids walk on the Top 16 opening ceremony where children got close to the drivers as they lined up for the national Anthem. I psyched myself up as I lined up against Yamada Kenji, edging him out without too much trouble. Weather was very hot but I managed to stay cool using a cool suit in the car, something that’s essential in the Hot Japanese Summer heat. I stayed in the car from Top 8 on, focussing on each battle and watching my other competitors, when I could, on the Live stream on my phone! My speed from the power of my Tomei 3.6 2jz turbocharged with a Garrett Turbo G42-1200C, coupled with the grip from my tires, gave me the confidence to pull away from my opponents in the lead runs and maintain good proximity in the chase lap. Moving on to the semi finals I faced a tough battle with Shinji and made contact with the wall at outzone 2, possibly making shinji hesitate and I pulled a gap in the lead. I had a strong chase run and got to move on to the final round. On the chase lap by clipping point 3 he was out of shape, off throttle, and I made contact but the FD Japan staff ruled the other driver was at fault. As I knew that fault had be given to him I just had to run a clean lead lap to take the win and that’s what I did.
It was a great effort from the whole team, battling mechanical issues, changing weather ,and a talented field. Thanks to the many supporters we had the tools to get the job done and getting our 1st win at Okuibuki, the only track we hadn’t earned a victory on till now!
We head into the final with a 5 point lead over Yamashita, to the track we won on in 2018 and where our car is best suited. Tune in October 5&6 to see if we can clinch a 4th Championship
Thanks as always to our Sponsors:
Valino Tyres Japan
Rays Gram Lights
Ace Garage / Cerakote
Saito Roll Cage
Max Flow Performance Parts