A Look at Dai Yoshihara’s 2012 Formula D S13

 A Look at Dai Yoshihara's 2012 Formula D S13

By Justin Banner

The Falken Team was spotted at Willow Springs Balcony a few days ago shaking down Dai Yoshihara's 2012 S13 drift car.  There has been little public information about the car in the off season.  Basically Dai will be driving the same Nissan S13 that he has been campaigning for the last 2.5 years.

For 2012 the car has been revised with a new engine, ECU and data system.  There have been a few suspension changes due to the rules changes for 2012 and most critically, a switch to narrow 255 tires to accommodate the rules.

At a glance the car looks to be virtually identical to the 2011 version. In this photo it seems to be missing the carbon splitter and undertray that it ran in 2011 that the team insisted was functional and essential.  Our own editor and Falken Team Engineer Mike Kojima has refused to comment about what exactly has been done to the car to us internally.  It seems to me like the car's off season upgrades have been shielded from the public for this year.
A closer looks reveals the rear ride height to be about 3/4″ higher than last year.  The team is very secretive about suspension changes to the car for 2012 but they indicated that the biggest changes for this year are to the front KW coilovers!  Is this why a splitter is not needed anymore?
The narrow 255 rear tires are spaced pretty far outboard.  It appears to me that the team gambled by going light with skinny tires when it seems like most of the FD field has gone the opposite way, wider and heavier.  Will light, nimble and low traction prevail over grippy, fast but committed?  We will see in a few days at Long Beach.  You have to know the chassis guru Kojima has a lot of ideas up his sleeve.  Did he guess right this time?  Seems like he zigged when everyone else zagged.
No more crate motors for Dai.  The new 2012 engine is obviously an alloy tall deck variant of the LS due to its bigness in the engine bay.  A tall deck means big inches without a bad rod ratio.  The engine is rumored to displace 477 cubic inches.  The engine also sports high port heads.  The team is very secretive about the final power output but it is rumored to be in the 620 whp range with a lot of torque and a very wide power band.  The engine probably weighs about 30 lbs more than the old LS7 based engine.  This would make it again slightly less powerful than the Roush Yates engines of ASD, the screaming Bergenhotz rotary and the Menards Nissan of Chris Forsberg but more powerful than the engines of others.
The car seemed to work well but it was clear that Dai was just taking things easy to shake the car down rather than showboat for the cameras.  The crew seemed to be avoiding the media that was hanging around.
Although not shown in these pictures the car could easily develop a lot of wheel speed and smoke even though the engine did not sound like it was revving very high.  The car seemed to have good forward traction even with the skinny tires.  Dai was not driving the car in anger as if to not show what he or the car really has.

Will the revised SPD S13 have what it takes to defend Dai's championship?  Can the old dog hold off the latest and greatest for this year?  We will see in a few days at Round 1 of the 2012 Formula D season at Long Beach.  See Ya there!

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