10. Is Dai Yoshihara Finally Back?
Watching Dai Yoshihara in qualifying I felt he was looking really good and finally putting some runs together. I looked over at Chelsea DeNofa’s spotter in fact (and told him that Dai Yoshihara would win the event during practice). Sadly, Vaughn Gittin Jr. spoiled my prediction but Dai Yoshihara is starting to look back to his old self. He has been a driver looking really short on confidence so perhaps the return to the podium will help him remember what winning feels like. This was his first podium since Long Beach in 2013. His car has looked far behind the other 86/BRZ chassis in the sport but maybe this was the start of his comeback tour!
9.Alec Hohnadell Will Win An Event This Year
Alec Hohnadell has grown and developed faster than almost any drifter I have seen. The kid is world class and knows how to win things. His progression in Formula Drift is clear and I think he got a bad call in his Final Four battle with Dai Yoshihara (and actually won). Watching the battle more and more, it really seems like Alec Hohnadell should of been in the finals. I don’t think he should lose sleep over this at all however. Sometimes calls will go your way and sometimes they won’t go in your favor. I do think across these next six rounds he will score his first event victory. He currently sits 10th in the championship after his fourth place finish this weekend.
8. Road Atlanta Highlights Pro 2 Behind the Curve
Pro 2 was ugly and borderline unwatchable this weekend. Drifters couldn’t enter right, couldn’t stop spinning, and also couldn’t manage to tandem. I almost want to pretend the new Pro 2 season didn’t start this weekend. Jeff Jones, Marc Landerville, and Ryan Litteral all had solid performances but that is about where it stopped for me. The event was slow and especially hard to watch as a fan. Perhaps, the need for a perfect line to run Road Atlanta well was just too much for these younger drifters. My vote is to remove Road Atlanta from the 2017 Pro 2 calendar and pretend this event never happened. I am hoping for vast improvements at Orlando Speed World.
7. Ryan Tuerck and his Evil Differential
I doubt many people will argue with me that Ryan Tuerck has the ability to win a championship in Formula Drift. His car just doesn’t want to help him get across the finish line. He seemingly has repeat differential issues with the FR-S across the last season and moving into 2016. I cannot even really understand what happened here short of the thing just ripping itself out of the car. Ryan Tuerck needs a string of luck or his car to stay together for the next seven rounds to stay in the championship conversation. Ryan is sitting in 14th place right now but only 88 points away from the championship with six rounds to go. Orlando Speed World is going to be a huge event now for drivers to establish dominance in the championship chase.
6. Pat Mordaunt Loves Road Atlanta
This past weekend at Road Atlanta marked my 12 year anniversary with drifting. I was introduced to the sport on assignment with Import Racer magazine at Road Atlanta in 2005. I have very specific memories of certain battles through my Formula Drift history. One of those battles has always been Dai Yoshihara vs. Pat Mordaunt back at Road Atlanta. This track just gets Pat Mordaunt or Pat just gets this track. He always manages to impress here. I think if his Top 16 battle was against anyone but Forsberg or Vaughn on this weekend he would of been in the Great 8 easily. He put up an insane fight against Forsberg, even pushing him to a OMT. Watch Forsberg vs. Mordaunt here.
5. Most Wide Open Championship in History – Stay Tuned
Adding a Round 8 to the championship really shakes up the strategy and reality of how a champion is crowned in this sport. Each round counts about 12.5% less than years past when totaling your score. The eight round format gives drivers a little more room for error in winning a championship. Under the seven race format, you basically needed to qualify seven times and finish in the Great 8 every weekend with several podiums to be in the Top 5. If you were lucky, one round could be a poor finish in Top 32 / Top 16 but it needed to be offset with a victory or high podium finish. After two rounds of Formula Drift, the Final Four has featured eight different drivers. This goes even further to leaving the championship a wide open battle.
4. The Old Guard Dominated
This podium looked straight out of Formula Drift 2012. In fact, if you pull up the results for Wall Speedway 2012 on Wrecked Magazine you will notice the podium is identical. Sometimes even when things change they also mange to stay the same. Road Atlanta is a difficult track to tackle so it shouldn’t be that shocking the veterans really stepped up to the occasion. I also really miss Darren McNamara when we come to Road Atlanta as he also managed to put on a great show for the crowd here. Before this weekend started I would of bet against Dai Yoshihara and Vaughn Gittin Jr. both being on the podium. Was this a fluke for each of them or is the old guard back in form and ready for a serious championship chase?
3. Chris Forsberg’s Insane Podium Percentage
Our stats guru Jacob Leveton was crunching some numbers after Road Atlanta and pointed out to me that Chris Forsberg has one insane podium percentage! Chris now has 28 podiums out of 82 career events. That is an unreal podium percentage of 34%. That number gets even more impressive when you consider he had a complete year of poor performances in the Sears 350z convertible. He has the most podiums in Formula Drift history but a huge margin already and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. This will be a record that will sit top in the history books for quite some time. Following along with his statistical average he will hit 30 podiums by the end of this season.
2. Can Vaughn Gittin Jr. Make a Championship Run?
I am not quite ready to declare this the year of Vaughn Gittin Jr. in Formula Drift. If you listened to me on the Maximum Drift podcast, I mentioned that Vaughn has a championship crew and is a championship driver but he tends to lack focus at keys times in the season. He has the ability to win but is hardly half the battle in this sport. The poor performance of DeNofa, Aasbo, and Ken Gushi really left the championship wide open. Vaughn sits in first place right now by 36 points but I am not ready to declare his Mustang the dominate force. Let’s look back at his championship reality once the East Coast leg is wrapped up in New Jersey.
1. Kenneth Moen’s Top 32 Run Was My Favorite of the Weekend
In the battle versus Chelsea DeNofa in Top 32 it just looked like Kenneth Moen’s gas pedal got stuck to the floor! It might not of been the most technically perfect run but watching it in person was amazing! I thought he was going to fly off the track about 10 times in his run. DeNofa who has one fast BMW barely was able to stay in the television camera lens. This was a very 2014 Kenneth Moen style lap. Watch it here