Big in Japan
Regardless of where you are in the World, the Sun will always rise in the East. Or on this morning, in the Far East—Japan specifically—the canon birthplace of the motorsport of drifting. In Takamatsu, a shoreside city in Japan's smallest prefecture of Kagawa, lives an enthusiast with a rooted history within the sport. Ryota Yuasa is no stranger to drifting.
Having developed his skill on the mountain roads of Japan during the fan-appointed "golden era" of the 90's, Ryota eventually focused his efforts on the more secure circuit. Piloting hero cars like the AE86 and S13 to secure podium in several of Japan's CARBOY magazine drift competitions, rising through the ranks until his inevitable 1st place victory of Video Option's West Japan Tournament in 1997. The journey wasn't without its challenges, with several crashes earning him the nickname 'Crash King', a badge he says he wears with pride. Still, Ryota kept his momentum, leading to a few more wins including his return to the CARBOY Shikoku Tournament in 2001 as champion. After a stint in the early D1 Grand Prix Japan series, he has since retired his AE86 from his pursuit of drifting for idol, in favor of a Toyota MR-S for fun.
No doubt a peculiar choice for drifting to the uninitiated, but once behind the wheel Ryota says he was up for the challenge. The MR-S would be a departure from the front-engine, rear wheel drive cars like the AE86, S13, and C33 (Laurel) he had come to know so well. "When driving the MR-S, you need to consider where the weight balance of the car is", Ryota mentioned. A phrase straight from the source of his inspiration for motorsports, the legend and drift king himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya. When asked what Ryota's long term goal was for drifting, he responded candidly, "I hope the handbrake works." Followed by the more serious answer, "I want to improve my driving technique rather than needing engine power."
And his technique around his hillside home course, Bihoku Circuit, is apparent. Making use of the mid engine momentum to leave the 'snap oversteer' myth, busted. When not shredding tires to the tune of a redlining 1ZZ-FE engine, Ryota is also an avid motorcycle rider and surfer. Almost mistook you for a Californian there...
As one of this small company's longest standing supporters in Japan, Ryota's words of encouragement could never ring more true..."Have fun pursuing your goals!". And so we shall.
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