09

Dai Does it Again!  Dai Yoshihara and Mike Bonanni Win MPTCC TU and TO Championships at North American Festival of Speed

MotoIQ Staff Report

Fresh off his 2011 Formula Drift Championship, Dai Yoshihara proved that he can drive grip as well as he can drift by clinching the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship TU class at the first inaugural North American Festival of Speed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend.  Dai drove Team MotoIQ’s iconic Dog Car Nissan Sentra SE to one victory in the weekend double header after not finishing his first race due to a collision with the Acura TSX of APD Racing’s Brian Smith.  The win gave Dai enough points to put a lock on the TU championship.

 
The Dog Car evolves.  The lowly Nissan Sentra started life as a Motorola Cup touring car sponsored by Petco (where it got its nickname) in the mid 90's and was sold to Mike Kojima who planned to use it as a beater track day car, however it started to evolve first into a NASA SE-R Cup car, then a Time Attack FWD Limited class car, then a NASA PTD car before being recycled as a MPTCC TU class car after sitting unused for 5 years.  The car has been driven at times by Mike Kojima, Tom Paule, Chuck Johnson, Annie Sam and now Dai Yoshihara.  The old Dog has proven to be very fast and the car to beat in the TU class driven by Dai and crewed by Costa Gialamas of GTI Technical Innovations.

Richard Ho of the APM Motorsports team was second in the points race and Martin Gonzales of Team MotoIQ was third.

 
 The APM Racing RSX of Richie Ho got a new engine and showed some real speed for the event.

 

 
The MotoIQ B Team of Martin Gonzales and Steve Rockwood came to the North American Festival of Speed packing big turbocharged power with plans of world domination.  It was working until the transmission packed it in causing them to DNF for the weekend dropping them from a solid second in points to third.

Mike Bonanni of the Berk Technology Team won the championship in the TO class.  Mike had clinched the title by round 4 of the series as the reliable Berk car decimated the temperamental TO field with three wins in a row.

 
In the finicky TO class the Berk Technologies BMW One Series driven by Mike Bonanni dominated so badly that they only had to run the first three events to clinch the championship.  TO cars have proven to be tricky beasts with cars proving to be so unreliable that finishing was a good way to get critical championship points.  After three in a row the Berk team simply waited in the wings to see if anyone could come close.

Joon Maeng of the Lucas Oil team was second and Robert Ramirez of the Road Race Engineering team was third in the points chase.

 
Formula D ace Joon Maeng came in second in points by winning both rounds of the double header Willow Springs event in his Lucas Oil Nissan S13.  Schedule conflicts with Formula D demo events prevented Joon from attending more events.

 

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8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 4:18 AM
Neat stuff! Congrats to Dai and the crew for taking home another trophy. It's pretty amazing what the right car, driver, and crew can pull off on the track. Where was the Dog II? Still getting its engine back together? And how did it feel to be at LVMS after Indy Car?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 7:01 AM
I was simply too worn out after the Formula D season to prep two cars. Costa was in China so he could not help me. Las Vegas is a cool track but I think it's too narrow for indy cars.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 7:14 AM
Great race guys, and next year will certainly be exciting once we get our transmission issues sorted.

LVMS was a great track, once you figured it out. Having never been there, and the dark conditions on the track made the first 5 or 6 laps a little exciting (as Mike saw, with the G20 sideways almost as often as not). The thing that made that track especially hairy was most of the infield's lights were pointed TOWARDS the driver at the turn-in point, making it nearly impossible to see the corner's apex, especially considering how brightly lit the oval was.

Other than that, it was really fun out there. Getting well into 5th gear before braking down to a SUPER tight turn three was pretty exciting. For those who weren't there, turn three had less width than most track's pit exit and was a 90* corner. In fact, the first time Dai and I went through it, we both thought we were exiting the track. Certainly made for some dicey moments, braking down from 140+ MPH to 40-50 MPH.
sr20freak
sr20freaklink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 8:07 AM
I was one of the diehard fans that bared the cold to watch some awesome saturday midnight MPTCC raceing! And it was so worth it watching Dai and Brian dueling it out before the contact that took Dai out. And super bummed out when the G20 3rd gear let go. (not much a surprise there). I think I was jumping up and down at one point. And Dai, your the man. Thank you so much for taking time to take pictures with a bunch of my friends that are die hard drift fans of yours, and signing one of my sons's favorite possesions!!
OMG Its Weasel
OMG Its Weasellink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:21 AM
As much as I'm sure you love racing; you sure do write an exciting recap.
About the name of the car and where it came from, do you happen to have any pictures of it when liveried with Petco stuff? Was that race series in the late 90s?
Looks like a lot of fun.
Fly'n_Z
Fly'n_Zlink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:28 AM
Oooooohh, calling Martin and Steve the "B Team" thems fightin' words! Looks like you guys had a good time at the track. If there's an MPTCC round after SEMA again next year I'll definitely rearrange my schedule so that I can attend.
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 10:31 AM
I would have liked to see how the B team did if the trans held! The car appeared much better after some rear shock changes and the power was there. The lap times were there too even when the car was less than ideal. I have a feeling they will NOT be referred to as the B team next year!

It was awesome to see Dai put a move on APD and make a killer clean pass. He was so fast through that complex it was only a matter of time!

It was also fun wrenching on the car with Costa. We both had a vendetta against that damn inner tie rod that we both sighed a breath of relief when we finally got the damn thing out!

Great effort by everyone to get the car back to nearly perfect and an amazing drive by Dai to put it in the winner's circle.

Frankly I would have been very pissed if I did not have the chance to be there and witness it.
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 11:08 AM
ASSuming I didn't make a mistake as well, the G20 likely would've seen its first victory... :)
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 11:28 AM
I don't think so :)
Der Bruce
Der Brucelink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:24 PM
Now I really wish I didn't half-ass my offer to fly myself down to help out for the weekend :( Looks like it was the most exciting race of the year!

Steve - Sorry to hear about the tranny. Sucks man. I was a LITTLE worried about something happening when you said you guys were dropping in the turbo, just because it seems like SO many motorsports teams have trouble with last minute changes. With this smack talk between you and Mike, I think we need a fixed tranny and a new race :p

PS How was the rest of the North American Festival of Speed?
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:32 PM
@ Mike: would Dai have come back from getting towed into the pits and beaten me with a taco'd tie rod and demon camber on sat night? :)
Rockwood
Rockwoodlink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:35 PM
@ Der Bruce: we spent 4 months working on making this setup reliable. Unfortunately, we didn't address the transmission. If you look carefully, you'll see 200mph tape on the grille, since we went overboard on cooling... More on that in a future article.
Wes Dumalski
Wes Dumalskilink
Thursday, November 10, 2011 3:15 PM
That's a lot of if's there Steve but I have to agree, if you were third and close (which I believe you would have been with them fighting for first)if you could have avoided the wreck you would have driven by! Then you should have owned the drag race for the start and driven a wide car to the finish line. But alas the G trans gave up the ghost.

Dai's car was simply unmatched on the infield and had enough straight line speed to not loose to much ground.

Regardless Sunday's race was great!
Matt Dennison
Matt Dennisonlink
Friday, November 11, 2011 12:56 PM
competition was thick in the wheel-to-wheel stuff... awesome to see that my car and me made the editorial cut, thanks for the pic Jeff...!
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Friday, November 11, 2011 1:47 PM
Were you in the camo RSX?
Ben
Benlink
Friday, November 18, 2011 7:43 AM
It's a bit late to check in but I thought I'd let you guys know I'm reading and really enjoyed the articles. RSX/TSX and S2000 are some of my favorite cars... after SR20 equipped line-up of course.
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