10. Can Jhonnattan Castro Keep Finding that Potential?
The last time I remember Castro driving this good was at Homestead in Miami two season ago. He actually looked solid and consistent out of the box and it wasn’t the biggest shock to me when he took out Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Top 16. Jhonnattan needs to spend some serious time figuring out why he manages to drift so good in Florida. I cannot figure out if its because he is close to home, the humidity, his family/friends around, or just a random round he focuses in on drifting. He has the driver ability and talents in my eyes. Now, he just needs to dig up what makes him more focused and repeat repeat repeat.
9. Chris Forsberg’s 370z Looked Slow and Off the Pace
This season seems to of left behind Chris Forsberg’s 370z in terms of pace and speed around the course. All weekend at Orlando Speed World his car looked visually slower than some other teams on the grid. This was highlighted in a major way with his battle against Kristaps Bluss in the Final Four. If you watch the runs, Forsberg enters on Bluss door but then the BMW just powers through the course and speeds up at angle around the bank and Forsberg’s 370z cannot seem to do that. The car isn’t so slow that is belongs in Pro 2 or anything but his speed while drifting could make the difference between a third championship and finishing fourth place.
8. Drifting without Tires
The rule changes with a tire debead seemingly have confused about 90% of Formula Drift fans out there. I will try and clear it up quickly but it might require its own follow up post. Last year the rule was – a tire debead at anytime in a tandem battle resulted in a loss. In 2016, the rules state you cannot fix a tire debead but it does not result or impact a zero score. So, for example, Jeff Jones in qualifying lost a tire and kept drifting around the course. He was given a 70 for his run and the tire had no impact directly on the score but you have to imagine it slowed him down impacting his score from him having say, four tires. So, if you are in the first part of a tandem battle, you lose, because a car without a tire doesn’t pass tech to run again. If its the second run of a battle and you can keep going then its fair game. Now, here are the list of battles impacted by this rule. I respect Formula Drift for putting a line in the sand and I think teams need to figure out other ways than running 11 PSI in tires to get grip out of the car. Also, in the case of JTP – let the dude put air in his tires for crying out loud after contact and deflation.
1. Nate Hamilton Pro 2 Top 16 Battle (Loss Due to Tire Debead)
2. Mad Mike Whiddett Top 32 Battle versus Ken Gushi (Loss Due to First Round)
3. Fredric Aasbo Top 16 Battle vs Kyle Mohan (Loss Tire in follow and still won)
4. Justin Pawlak Top 16 Battle after contact with Forsberg (Ran but Spun Due to Low Tire Pressure)
5. Fredric Aasbo Final 4 Battle with Tyler McQuarrie (Lost on First Run and Tire Remounted)
7. Please Sell Your Infiniti G37 and Build an S-Chassis Charles Ng!
The last two times I have been impressed with Charles Ng drifting in the last year was Irwindale 2015 in Forrest Wang’s S14 and this weekend in Juha’s S14. Good news is, Charles Ng messaged me saying that he is bringing Juha’s S14 out for Formula Drift Round 4 in New Jersey. It makes me wonder if he actually built and tuned a S-Chassis to his liking how good he would be at drifting. I would boldly claim a Top 10 championship result from him. Keep an eye on him in New Jersey to make a serious impact.
6. The Rookie Class Needs Serious Improvement
The rookie class has a 92% loss percentage this season collectively after three rounds of the Pro championship. The only victory of the season for the rookie class was the Matt Field vs. Faruk Kugay battle where Matt Field made an illegal pass, hit Faruk on line, and then tried to run him over before pushing him off track. Faruk Kugay leads the ROTY championship with 68 points right now. However, Cameron Moore, Andy Gray and Alex Heilbrunn were the beacons of light this weekend that the rookies might show up at some point. Cameron Moore battled Forsberg again in Top 32 and held his own. I like that he isn’t phased by the big names and now needs to focus on qualifying higher to get an easier 32 draw. Alex Heilbrunn continues to be super inconsistent through practice but did pull together four nice runs against Vaughn Gittin in Top 32 while pushing him to OMT. Andy Gray pushed event winner Fredric Aasbo to OMT in the Top 32 in a battle which I felt Gray could of taken the win. The rookies are showing hope but the season is quickly passing them by as New Jersey is the halfway mark. A collective 92% tandem battle loss percentage is something they need to shake quick or rethink Pro 2 for 2017.
5. The Eastern European Krisptas Bluss Was on Fire This Weekend!
He was just one turn away from destroying Fredric Aasbo and winning his first Formula Drift event when the car got unsettled and gripped up. Kristaps runs a skeleton crew from Latvia to manage his Formula Drift program. His car is a rocket ship and I have never seen someone make low angle drifting look so good. He has this mixture of low angle and then dials in big angle and back to low angle that I imagine is a nightmare to follow behind. H also adds in some serious style, smoke, and flair with his drifting to keep people entertained. If you missed this event, watch his Final Four battle with Chris Forsberg or his tandem chase run in the finals with Fredric Aasbo to see what this European drifter is all about. I hope he can put down a couple more amazing performances like that before the season is over.
4. Pro 2 Redeemed Itself After Road Atlanta Disaster
I gave Pro 2 a second chance this weekend and watched the entire Top 16 competition, even after Road Atlanta was the most painful event in history to watch. The redemption of Pro 2 was quite high this time and it featured some seriously entertaining battles. I was bummed that none of the younger drifters didn’t manage to take out Landerville or Jones over the weekend but they put down some good performances. Kelsey Rowlings had a notable performance and was killing it in practice but went in a little too deep in qualifying and missed the show. Kevin Lawrence did the same in competition by running too high on the bank and crashing. I felt like he was on the road to a first place finish without that mistake. All in all, I am excited for Texas but sad it is more than three months away.
3. Busted with Illegal Adhesive on Tires
I was going to make an entire post about the Chelsea DeNofa Glue GaTe but Jacob Leveton laid out most of the important facts here in a write up. I spoke with at least eight Formula Drift drivers who told me without hesitation what he did is 100% illegal. I don’t think Chelsea realized or cared what he was doing was illegal, mostly because they left the tires laying around for everyone to see at OSW. In fact, some glue caked tires were just laying by the Turn 14 Distribution tent all weekend (I spaced on taking a photo, sorry). Formula Drift waited to see if he would pull to the line with these tires for competition against Castro and he did. So his Top 32 points are stripped away and his qualifying points remain since no proof can be found he used those tires then. Formula Drift does need to work on the verbiage of this rule moving forward but I imagine it was left very vague to nail people on things nobody has even thought of to do yet.
2. Pat Mordaunt Had the Chase of the Weekend
I just really loved Pat Mordaunt’s chase against Ryan Tuerck. That was one of the best follows around the bank I have seen in a long time. Don’t believe me?! Check it out on our Instagram here.
1. Fredric Aasbo Drove Like An Asshole 100%
My biggest disappointment of the weekend was Fredric Aasbo. Him and his team clearly figured out the bare minimum they needed to do to win a battle and repeated it until they won the event. He provided no flair, hardly any impact, and chased at a very conservative position that probably drifted the 5,000+ fans to sleep. I understand the gamesman ship and strategy are a huge part of the sport but I also think he owes it to the fans to try, implement risk, and actually attempt to tandem at a high level and entertain people. This compounded by the fact they claimed they had “engine issues” so the car was slow but managed to keep pace between the initiation cone and inner clip one from Thursday practice through the main event. Aasbo should take the money he won from the event and reimburse the fans who paid good money to be entertained over the weekend. I am also aware that fans and people have been reaching out to us asking about specific judging calls involving Aasbo’s runs. I have reached out to the judging panel and they are working on a story to explain some calls from his runs so please stay tuned.