Toshiki Yoshioka is not your everyday drifter. He clearly has a genuine talent for going sideways, as you must have to be competitive in the very deep field of drivers, now calling the Formula Drift series home. On top of that he’s also a very talented grip driver, as well. As he convincingly established at the 2011 version of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb where he placed third in just his first year on the hill. And he accomplished that feat in the most stacked field of talent, the Time Attack division had ever seen at Pikes Peak. A class that included one time Pikes Peak Overall Record holder Rod Millen, and many-time class champion Jeff Zwart, which as it turns out were the only two cars that finished with better times. Not too bad for a guy who had never even seen the hill before.
We had a chance to catch up with Yoshi at the first round of the Formula Drift season in Long Beach. Here’s what he had to say about the Formula Drift series and his upcoming return to Pikes Peak:
ML@S: You had a good start to the weekend here at round one, Qualifying well and making it past the first round. So, you’re feeling pretty comfortable in the new car?
Yoshi: Getting comfortable, but not enough just yet. We need to do more dialing and adapt the car to my driving style.
ML@S: Are you more comfortable in the right hand drive S15 than you were in last years left-hand drive S13?
Yoshi: The view is much different. My daily driver here in the US is left hand drive, but I’m so used to the Right-hand drive. But we are using the G-Force transmission and they’re designed for the left-hand drive. It’s different and sometimes it’s a bit more complicated.
ML@S: Are you already getting things ready for Pikes Peak?
Yoshi: Not yet, but we did just get a new turbo from Garrett. So, I’m going to update the turbo and get more horsepower.
ML@S: Did you add some cubic inches, as well?
Yoshi: No, still just the 2.3L but with the update in the turbocharger we’ll have more power.
ML@S: Getting third place in your first year at Pikes Peak had to feel good.
Yoshi: Pikes Peak was a very very amazing experience for me. I’d never been there and everything was new…I got a headache on top of the mountain! I was drinking a lot of water.
ML@S: Pikes Peak is pretty well known in Japan. Is it something you had thought about for a long time?
Yoshi: I think Pikes Peak is famous in Japan, much more than here is the US. With Monster being from Japan and holding the record, I think that’s why it’s so popular.
ML@S: Did you bring the (Nissan) S15 over specifically for Pikes Peak, or did you have some other form of racing in mind, as well?
Yoshi: Just for Pikes Peak. I don’t want to use the S15 for any other race…especially drifting! Too dangerous!
ML@S: So when will you really kick off your preparation for Pikes Peak?
Yoshi: Right after this event.
ML@S: Are you running the full Formula Drift series this year?
Yoshi: Yes, the full season.
ML@S: We’re really looking forward to seeing you back at Pikes Peak this year. What do you think about the course being fully paved?
Yoshi: I’m kind of disappointed with it being the same surface all the way up the mountain. I liked the half dirt, half pavement. You needed to have more strategy. But now it’s different. And a lot more rookies coming up.
ML@S: Well, you’re so used to going sideways on pavement anyway!
Yoshi: Yeah but I don’t want to sideways on Pikes Peak!
If you don’t know Toshiki Yoshioka, you should make a point to get to know him. And watch out this year on Pikes Peak, he just might be standing on top of the Time Attack podium.
All action shots below by Justin Nigro.