Retrospective: Ryuji Miki’s Former Rides

Posted by Andrew Jennings on 19th June.

Ryuji Miki's Apexi FD

Ryuji Miki debuted a brand new race car at this year’s Formula Drift event at Wall, NJ. Before we take a look at what he will be piloting for the next few seasons, let’s walk down memory lane and see what the 2004 D1GP Champion has been using to challenge the USA’s finest. Click past the break to find out, and let us know through the comments which of these cars you’ve seen in person!

The first time that I witnessed Miki’s driving was actually before he transitioned to America. In 2005, I attended a D1GP event in Tokyo at the makeshift Odaiba circuit (read: coned off parking lot course). He was then sponsored by Top Secret, and in 2004 he successfully campaigned their Nissan Silvia S15 to the overall championship. A photo of the S15 can be seen here, via the Top Secret website.

Ryuji Miki at D1GP

In 2007, Miki caught a deal with A’PEXi to transition into the Formula Drift series in the USA under the direction of Bergenholtz Racing. The car was a white FD3S, something that A’PEXi knows a lot about, having sponsored Youichi Imamura to the 2003 D1GP title in a strikingly similar model.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Mazda RX-7

The #26 car began its life in the States, which meant that it was left hand drive. Miki’s learning curve during the 2007 season included not only a brand new car on brand new tracks, but also a seat on a wrong side of the car! Previously he had only raced in right hand drive vehicles. Keep an eye on that steering wheel as this will resurface later on.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Mazda RX-7

Even with those challenges, Miki showed that he could quickly adapt to the change in scenery. By the third round of the season he was already contesting the top 16, and progressed to the great 8 in the final two events.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Mazda RX-7

He completed the season 14th, the highest position for any rookie that year. 2008 continued this strong momentum, picking up additional sponsors along the way.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Mazda RX-7

Check out the graphics on the passenger’s side of the car for 2008. In true JDM fashion, they are displayed as a mirror image of the driver’s side written backwards. The rear fender of the car also became a breeding ground of stickers. In ’07 it was blank, and then wham! Everybody wanted a spot, and the A’PEXi title sponsor had already taken the most prime real-estate on the doors. From a marketing standpoint, sponsoring the rear of a drift car isn’t always wise since this area is often concealed by tire smoke. BRIDE seats was one that took what they could get, and continue to sponsor Miki’s car today with an awesome set of Zeta IIIs.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Mazda RX-7

Flash forward to 2009. The silly season proved to be one of the most dramatic in the Formula Drift history as Miki and his lead sponsor A’PEXi transferred over to the Hankook racing team. The FD3S got a stay of execution and continued its life under a brand new matte-black paint scheme with a reflective red “A’P” outline draping the sides of the car. It was easily recognizable on track as a car from Hankook’s stable, but still unique in its livery.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Hankook Mazda RX-7

Notice something else that is different about the image above? Where is the driver? To continue his progression up the ranks, the team decided to swap the steering wheel over to the right side of the cockpit allowing Miki to drive the car more naturally.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Hankook Mazda RX-7

The tactic was effective as he achieved 2 podiums in the 2009 season, a 2nd place finish in Las Vegas and a 3rd place in Sonoma.

At the start of the 2010 season, his car was largely unchanged. But rumors had already begun flying that something big was in the works from A’PEXi and Hankook for the former champion. Even though Long Beach and Atlanta were not his best showings, there was an ace in the hole that he was just itching to unleash on the field.

Ryuji Miki's APEX'i Hankook Mazda RX-7

I hope you enjoyed this miniature biography of Miki’s exploits. Stay tuned here at Drifted as we cover the new car that debuted for him at Wall to contest the rest of the 2010 season and beyond.

Andrew Jennings is a photographer and editorialist based out of Nashville, TN. He has been covering the American drift scene since 2007, and his work has been published in nationally syndicated magazines such as Modified Magazine, Import Tuner, Performance Auto and Sound, and RIDES. Andrew may be contacted through his professional online portfolio, or the social networks listed below.

Professional Portfolio: http://www.andrew-jennings.com | Personal Blog

Facebook | MySpace | Twitter | Flickr | PBase

Written by Andrew Jennings

Andrew Jennings

Andrew Jennings is a photographer and editorialist based out of Nashville, TN. He has been covering the American drift scene since 2007, and his work has been published in nationally syndicated magazines such as Modified Magazine, Import Tuner, Performance Auto and Sound, and RIDES. Andrew may be contacted through his professional online portfolio, or the social networks listed (top right icons).

Website iconFacebook iconGoogle Plus icon

Commentsb

  • Ian Gratton

    Always wondered why Miki wasn’t present in D1GP for a long time. I guess now I know. The TOP Secret S15 was always a bit of a jaw dropper…it was for sale for a little while after the D1 Silverstone event – but I wonder where it went ? Didn’t some guy in France buy it ?

  • k-os

    Will always associate Miki with the Gold S15. The first car that made me really dig D1gp.
    I’ve been lucky to spend time with him this year in USA. He’s a great guy and comes out with the funniest random sh1t. Worthy of an exclusive post – but we need a pic of that legendary S15.

  • I love the mismatched Gram Lights on Miki’s ’07 FD

  • Yeah! Miki rocks!

Socialb

Drifted tee's in stock and ready to ship image
  • Latest articles|

    About Drifted

    - What is drifting?

    International Drifting Coverage! News, videos and photos from around the drift-world! From grassroots to pro level, drifted.com has it covered.

    If you are a photographer with a passion for Drifting and if you would like to get some amazing coverage then please look at our contributer section.

    If you are a company looking for fantastic, targetted exposure please visit our advertising section.