Daijiro Yoshihara is no stranger to driving the FR-S/BRZ chassis around a twisting course; however, later this month, he'll be stepping out of the more familiar Formula DRIFT tracks to take on the 97th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The 12.42-mile course sits just outside of Colorado Springs and features a dizzying 156 turns as it climbs 4,720 feet to the 14,115 ft. finish line.
Daijiro, who goes by Dai, has a long history of driving in a variety of events. He was the 2011 Formula DRIFT champion and has stood atop the podium several times during our own Super Lap Battle in the FWD class. He's even done a bit of stunt driving for commercials, but one thing he hasn't done professionally is a hill climb race. What more of a prestigious hill climb to tackle in the world thank Pikes. "I think Pikes Peak is like ultimate Touge! Well, I know it's way more than that, but it definitely reminds me of my Touge days," he told us.
Dai will be driving a 2013 Scion FR-S, rebadged as a Toyota 86, sponsored by ENEOS, Evasive Motorsports and Turn14 Distribution. Dai's 86 is sporting a stroked-and-turbocharged 2JZ-GTE inline-six engine that will be making about 900hp on race day. Yikes! That'd be enough to get us in trouble, not to mention 156 turns going up a mountain.
Last month Dai and the team at Evasive Motorsports finished dialing the car in at Willow Springs. The car had initially been fitted with a Garrett GTX4294R turbo, but after feedback from Dai, they switched to a smaller GTX3582II. The smaller turbo was more responsive, which will be a huge important for the hill climb. "This was a great test. It allowed us to verify all the changes we made after the previous test session. The car feels really strong and we're in a good place for Pikes Peak," Dai explained.
Part of preparing for his first attempt at the Pikes Peak hill climb started off with practicing in a driving simulator. Asseto Corsa was used familiarize himself with the course. Dai elaborated that memorizing the course has been difficult: "I've been watching so many videos and practicing on the SIM, so I feel like I do remember it pretty well but I won't know until I really drive there at speed," he explained.
A few weeks ago, Dai flew to Colorado to get a feel for the course in person. He'd visited the mountain in 2008 but had never driven it. For his first practice run, he borrowed a stock 86 from Colorado Springs Toyota. "I split the course into sections and drove each one four to five times to burn the turns into my memory. When you drive the entire hill, it's difficult to remember specific corners, but by breaking it down into smaller chunks you seem to remember it better," he revealed. This strategy mimics the official qualifying and practice sections, with each set of competitors driving the three sections on different days. Dai will be racing in the Time Attack division, which boasts largest numbers of competitors.
Dai concluded that after completing the testing with the 86, he's feeling confident. "My motorsports career has started with drifting and that has been my main thing. I've been doing other stuff like time attack and road racing lately and I really enjoy doing those. Pikes Peak is one of the races I always wanted try. I think I can use all my skills and experiences from both drifting and grip driving and use it towards this."