posted on December 28, 2012 00:00
Sneak Peek: Daigo Saito's Achilles Tire SC430
By Mike Kojima
After two years of rumors and plenty of gossip, it finally happened, Daigo Saito, reportedly the best drift driver in the world arrived on our shores with not just a splash but a bang. Daigo, 2008 D1GP champ and 2011 Formula D Asia Champ came out of the gates hard at the Long Beach season opener with a third place. Daigo has fought hard on foreign soil maintaining a solid second place in Formula D standings for much of the year.
There are many rumors surrounding Daigo's car which has been reported as having as much as 1300 hp. The fact that Daigo and his crew don't speak English and that they are somewhat secretive about their car, has kept many fans wondering about what makes it tick. We don't directly know all of the car's specs either, but we have photos and I will attempt to give you a technical tour around the car. It is an interesting blend of both Japanese and American Technology.
Daigo took the old guard of US drifting by storm with surprisingly strong performances.
Daigo sometimes runs the SC430 with the hard top on if it is raining or to shield him from smoke.
Perhaps the best follow driver in the world, Daigo's aggressive, super close proximity, in your face driving style has angered some drivers like Luke Lonberger and Justin Pawlak. A lot of Daigo's controversial driving tricks are probably due to the differences between what is acceptable in D1 vs FD in part and the fact that he is a rookie and just getting to learn some of the courses that many other drivers have been driving for years.
2011 FD champ Dai Yoshihara has been able to defeat Daigo with each encounter in the 2012 season so far.
|Conrad Grunewald has had more battles with Daigo than any other driver, fighting numerous one more time bouts from road Atlanta to New Jersey. The battles have been controversial and have resulted in some motions by FD to more clearly define scoring and DQ criteria for the season.
Monday, September 17, 2012 12:23 AM
Just as a quick note, looking at those calipers, they're Dynapro 4 piston jobbies in the rear, at least in the pics - not as sure about the front ones behind the wheel, but the pad retaining clips are a Dynapro 6 piston thing. I just say this having been looking at the suckers.
The Japanese tuning philosophy confuses the hell out of me sometimes. I just don't get the thing with not having as much chassis rigidity as possible, and I don't get the use of half a dozen different boxes to do things. It just seems like it must make things a nightmare to work on.
All that said, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on here, and obviously the car's working pretty well for him. Part of me kind of wonders where the nitrous is being injected - seen some interesting things that drag guys have done plumbing it into the exhaust manifold.
Monday, September 17, 2012 4:47 AM
Saito's D1 JZX100 has more cage tubes than most FD machines. so this "Japanese tuners think chassis needs to flex" stereotype can stop already. The minimalist cage design can also be seen on other top FD competitors machines. Maybe Saito think it is FD style?
Monday, September 17, 2012 5:31 AM
Good catch on the caliper pad retaining clips!
Daigo's car does not have more cage tubes than most of the better FD cars and the forward legs are well back from the firewall terminating at the front of the door rearward of the dash. This is typical of Japanese style cages. It is also not going to be legal under the 2013 rules.
Of course some guys in FD emulate Japanese style and make flexy chassis. Our own Japanese driver felt flexy chassis were better at first, especially when other well known Japanese drivers advised him that his car was too stiff.
Monday, September 17, 2012 6:56 AM
Yikes, that cage construction is nerve wracking. Forget chassis stiffness, the lack of triangulation and limited amount of cage area just seems unsafe. I'm sure it meets the rules, but it seems most (US) pro drivers are seriously stepping up the amount of structure they run, not for stiffness but for safety.
The cage on Daigo's car reminds me of the bolt in ones all the honda guys used to run.
Monday, September 17, 2012 8:02 AM
Saito's D1 Chaser. Huge different from his FD machine.
Monday, September 17, 2012 8:15 AM
Saw the clone of this car in Asia at Formula Drift Asia in Singapore. Awesome that he drives in two series on opposite sides of the world simultaneously, and even more awesome that there is an IS chassis clone of this car which IMO is better looking (random article w pics): http://www.autocartuning.info/lexus-is250c-the-ninja-achilles-formula-drift.html
Monday, September 17, 2012 9:00 AM
That is a stiffer cage but you you notice how the forward legs don't go all the way forward?
Monday, September 17, 2012 10:13 AM
It's a GTX4294 turbo, so I'd say it maxes out around 1000whp.
Monday, September 17, 2012 1:08 PM
Yes, I noticed that. But with all those tubes in there do you think his intention was making the chassis flexible?
Monday, September 17, 2012 1:40 PM
I can believe ~1,300 horsepower when the nitrous is being used. That's crazy!
Monday, September 17, 2012 1:51 PM
@Kaiwei, I was thinking that the area between the front legs and the shock towers even though the cage is well built and reminiscent of a rally style cage. It looks like the lower legs can go quite a bit more forward.
I have had a few discussions with Japanese car builders in the past and there seemed to be a consensus that drift cars need to flex.
In our car we put everything as far forward as the rules allow for stiffness and safety, right to the very end of the firewall and have a the dash bar butt up against the firewall.
in 2013 it will be mandated that the cage be triangulated to the firewall/footwell area to prevent footwell intrusion injuries like what happened to Taka Aono and John Russakoff.
Since I never get to speak to Japanese car builders anymore since there is no more D1 do you think that the flexing chassis idea is changing?
Monday, September 17, 2012 6:09 PM
You know FD is a joke, yes, a joke !!!! When organizers don't pay much attention to safety (roll cage in this case).
No matter what car you compete in at FD, everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE should have identical cages.
To put the cherry on the cake, many feel that not having the cage that extend thru to firewall onto the shock tower is not safe......but organizers keep doing their thing.....until someone's gonna get hurt real bad, THEN they're gonna open their eyes.
Like I said, FD = a joke !!!
Monday, September 17, 2012 6:18 PM
And to continue my pissing rant. How about the horsepower war? LOL.
7-8 years ago most of the field had 300-400 hp max, and people had fun.
Take Taka Aono for example, one of the staple in FD.....he's been struggling to keep up with people like Gittin and Saito....because of lack of hp. Does this mean he's less of a driver than Dai or Millen? I don't think so.
I feel sorry for him.
This "sport" was all about skills and who managed to put out a good show. Now the pissing contest is about horsepower and who shred more tires and smoke.
Again, a joke!!!! And until those high school kids will grow up, the "sport" will stay the same. It's a shame.
Monday, September 17, 2012 6:40 PM
FD is not a joke. They take driver safety very seriously, hence the change in the 2013 rules. FD feels that the front of the car should act like a big crush zone in a heavy crash. They are considering changing the firewall rule depending on their current studies on how adaptable head/neck restraint systems are to drifting. I don't necessarily agree with this but safety is always being considered. To universally say FD is a joke from the standpoint of an observer is silly.
Monday, September 17, 2012 6:53 PM
Taka knows what it takes to have a competitive car. He chooses his path with an engine program which is probably more expensive that simply bolting in a V8. It is his marketing decision to stay turbo 4. He could be competitive with the turbo 4 but it takes more money than he is able to come up with and still make a living. That doesn't mean his engine program is low buck though.
Formula D is a professional motorsport, it is not drift day. The high powered cars add to the show and fan appeal. It takes plenty of skill to handle a competitive modern professional drift car and to say that it does not is a very shallowly thought and superficial blanket statement. The sport is evolving and those that don't evolve with it will get left behind.
The current show is much more spectacular than it was in 2007. If you don't think so, look at the old TV episodes from that time. Boring.
The Formula works, last year going into the finals, the championship was not decided between 5 guys until the final round. This year it's gonna be the same with 4. Anything could happen.
The Sport is about skill, and technology and technical diversity.
Monday, September 17, 2012 6:58 PM
i just dont get the aluminum bumper support.
Monday, September 17, 2012 7:13 PM
I think Daigo's design intent is for the aluminum to collapse easily, sparing the unibody from more difficult to repair damage. I think that's why the damage appeared to be so bad in Las Vegas. From what i understand the car is already fixed and ready for Irwindale.
Our car is designed in a similar way. We use thin wall chrome molly and the tubes are arranged so they will collapse without a straight tube to load the chassis directly. Our suspension links are designed to bend before the chassis as well.
On our car, the tube parts are still much stronger than Daigo's aluminum bits.
Monday, September 17, 2012 7:23 PM
You guys don't have a gigantic lump of cast pig iron to compensate for though. (... I'm not a huge 2JZ fan, does it show?)
Monday, September 17, 2012 7:52 PM
Mike PLEASE !!!!! You work in the business. Give me a break! Is there anyone more biased than you? "Hence the change in 2013".....LOL. How many years FD has been organizing this event? How many years?
The fact that people (drivers/ teams and organizers) take things serious has NOTHING to do with how important safety should be taken.
It's a circus (and I use it very loosely). Race cars that are convertible so that they can lower the center of gravity.....LOL (asides from karting, F3, F1 and such) race cars ought to be with a fixed roof, and not raced with an open top, especially in FD where cars go sideways for hundreds of feet.
Please stop defending how things are. Even YOU admitted that Saigo aluminum front/ rear structure is not very safe. Wait until he crashes bad. There's a reasons why Dai's S13 sports a chromoly cage in the rear to protect the gas tank.
Like I said in my previous comment, every car should be designed with the highest quality standard cage......not thinking outside the box because the team wants to be competitive.
Monday, September 17, 2012 8:04 PM
I am not biased, I am a professional working within the parameters given by a professional organization. I am not part of FD but my job requires that I have to work closely enough with them to know that they are a a good, well run organization, better than many of the others I have worked with over the years in professional motorsports. They are far from perfect but they do a good job.
You are a heavily biased "observer" that admittedly hates drifting :).
Monday, September 17, 2012 8:28 PM
@JDM, if you think the FD rules are lax, have a look at Pikes Peak!
Monday, September 17, 2012 8:45 PM
Here is the dyno from Robbie Nishida's car.
Same motor and turbo combo, nitrous for spool.
so no 1000whp there, but still a ton of power.
Monday, September 17, 2012 8:57 PM
Mike - didn't see it mentioned and can't decipher from the photos. What power steering pump setup is being used in the car? Presuming some electric variation given the engine configuration. Thx.
Monday, September 17, 2012 9:10 PM
It uses the stock electric over hydraulic power steering system.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 12:56 AM
Haha, love a good flame war regarding FD! While I agree that FD could use more homoligized safety and horsepower standards, you can't argue with the fact that they promote very well, packing people in the stands and attract great drivers.
Thanks for the insight into Daigo's setup Mike! Is this car making FD start thinking about HP standards at all?
PS Can anyone really argue with the danger of the N2O in a "semi-contact" motorsport? Anyone!?
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 1:52 AM
I am not sure where JDMized got the idea of lax safety rules. There are a lot of strictly enforced safety rules. The safety section of the rulebook is pretty close to and in some areas more stringent than the SCCA or NASA GCA or CCA.
The FD tire size/weight rule helps level the playing field a lot.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 7:08 AM
JDMized, you bitch and moan about every article on this magazine like you know absolutely everything about everything. Why do you even bother coming here?
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 7:29 AM
@Der Bruce, you make a good point considering that FD doesn't have an overarching sanctioning body like F1 or NASCAR does. Having been around for only 9 years and still growing is something of a feat in the world of motor sports. Most start up racing series have already peaked and failed long before their 9th year.
The fact that they are reviewing and modifying the rules shows that they care deeply about safety (and the sport overall).
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 11:13 AM
Mike - do you know specifically which electric PS pump is being used? Thanks.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 11:42 AM
I believe it's the stock pump that came on the car.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:17 PM
If 1000Hp is the number you have to have to win next year I suspect we will see puffer V8s quickly. I hope the rules require means to contain the leaky fluids from blown engines.
At least his car isn't a hybrid of different manufacturers. He can get good factory dollars that way.
Thursday, November 15, 2012 8:32 PM
This build looks really rushed. They seem to have the chassis and powertrain pretty dialed, but not much attention to detail. The plumbing, wiring, and tin work is lacking alot. I heard alot about this car before it showed up in long beach, and i gotta say i was alittle disapointed when i saw it. Again, i think it functions great, and he is good driver... but as far as build quaility they have a lond way to go to match a RMR or ASD.
Friday, December 28, 2012 11:28 AM
So nobody else noticed the chunk of wood wedged in there with the battery? This car totally reminds me of some of the cars on Okinawa. Some things would have absolute painstaking attention to detail while others would just make you stand there scratching your head asking why? Why run 4" of wheel spacers on a professional level car? Why run an HKS V Pro if it doesn't support COP? Why duct tape your wideband gauge to the trans tunnel? Why have so much weight behind the axle centerline? If you stood that radiator up, it would be more protected, but would you really notice the shift in weight? They've already got a water tank for the sprayer too. Seems like a lot working against them, Daigo must be an absolute beast. Then there's another school of thought: if this car is underdeveloped, how is he smashing on all of these more fully developed cars? Is the difference in proper wheel spacing and lower polar moment of inertia only 1 position in the rankings? Is this car a clear indicator of where the money should be spent when he's running stock rear end, dash, column, pedals, and brake MC/booster?
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