Alex Heilbrunn

2017 Formula Drift Long Beach Round 1 [GALLERY]

alechohnadell odibachkis-alexheilbrunn fredricaasbo-kristapsbluss

The 2017 kicked off with a great event shot by Justin Kaehler. We have a complete collection of images covering the Streets of Long Beach and the first career victory of James Deane in his S15 Silvia. Ryan Tuerck was on fire, DeNofa looked wild in his ne Mustang RTR, and a bunch of Europeans made their Formula Drift debut.

Check out the Gallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wreckedmagazine/albums/72157682266689316

2017 Formula Drift Motegi Super Drift Challenge [RESULTS]

2017-motegi-drift-friday-podium

For the fifth consecutive year, Motegi Wheels sponsored the tandem competition that happens at Long Beach Grand Prix, which means a nice prize pool for those drivers who stick around in Southern California after the first round of the season. This year, there would be two different competitions occuring, one Friday and one Saturday. With the expanded schedule, qualifying was skipped in favor of a random draw. Only 14 drivers would enter the event, which meant a few more bye runs this time around. But with two full nights of competition, the Grand Prix crowds got two full nights of drifting under the lights!

Forrest Wang and Ryan Litteral, who are both eligible to run in the Formula Drift Pro series but are choosing to sit the season out, would both enter the event. Formula Drift Pro 2 driver Trent Beechum would also drive in the event.

For the second consecutive year, Matt Field took home a first place trophy. Field won Friday’s competition, with Alex Heilbrunn taking home second place and Forrest Wang winning third place. Heilbrunn took home the bridesmaid trophy for the second consecutive weekend after a major collision between Heilbrunn and Field shortly after initiation was determined to be his fault. Both cars sustained pretty substantial damage in the collision, but both drivers were able to make repairs in less than 24 hours and return for the second night of action.

Motegi Super Drift Friday Results:

1st – Matt Field
2nd – Alex Heilbrunn
3rd – Forrest Wang

/2017-motegi-drift-saturday-podium

For the second night, the tandem brackets were again randomly drawn, and for the second consecutive evening, Alex Heilbrunn found himself in the final round. This time, he would face Forrest Wang, who has never won a Formula Drift event previously, exhibition or otherwise. Wang would emerge the victor, claiming his first career Formula Drift win. Heilbrunn earned his third consecutive carbon fiber trophy, while Dean Kearney would wheel his Dodge Viper to a third place finish.

Motegi Super Drift Saturday Results:

1st – Forrest Wang
2nd – Alex Heilbrunn
3rd – Dean Kearney

10 Things I Learned From Formula Drift Long Beach

mattcoffman
10. Have We Watched Matt Coffman Grow Up Before Our Eyes?
One of the most impressive improvements I saw at Long Beach was Matt Coffman. I’ve always found he had talent but really lacked on the mental side of the game. He would be amazing in practice and then fall apart in Top 32 or over commit and put himself in a bad spot. He was a smooth operator this weekend, finishing in sixth place overall, between Fredric Aasbo and Chris Forsberg. That is some good company. If he can keep that up I would watch out for this dark horse.

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9. Matt Field – My Biggest Disappointment of the Weekend
His car probably deserves the middle finger…. or whatever mess of a disaster happened this weekend for him hopefully can be forgotten real quick. He is sitting in 12th place right now but I had expectations he could really be a front runner in 2017. I hope he didn’t leave his good driving behind in with that customary yellow livery. He needs to turn things around quick if he wants to be relevant in 2017.

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8. Alex Heilbrunn is Where the Hype Should Be
When Alex Heilbrunn got done dominating Pro 2 everyone thought he would arrive in Formula Drift and win all seven rounds at the time. Reality proved to be way more difficult, but Alex has been fighting and fighting his way through the field. My guess is now he is ready to make a big swing for the fences and keep it together for seven more rounds. He landed on the podium last year in New Jersey and looked great in Orlando so another repeat of that performance and he can have a good jump in the standings early.

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2017 Formula Drift Round 1 at Long Beach [RESULTS]

jamesdeane

James Deane drove his way to a first place finish after qualifying second on the weekend in Long Beach. This track setup does favor a RHD setup but Deane just seemed to crush the competition hands down regardless of the advantage. Alex Heilbrunn was the most impressive driver on the weekend for me knocking out Odi Bakchis and Fredric Aasbo in two amazing battles. The 2017 season is off to a wild start with big name veterans very high up the championship standings. I am working on my 10 Things post already so stay tuned. Here is how they finished:

1st- James Deane
2nd- Alex Heilbrunn
3rd- Ryan Tuerck
4th- Odi Bakchis

 

10 Things I Learned at Formula Drift Texas

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10. Great Layout and Formula Drift Texas Gets A-
I liked the layout this year and the how the event ran/flowed as a whole. Formula Drift gets tons of criticism from all angles so when they do something really well I want to stop and take the oppurtunity to give them credit. The judging was pretty spot on with the exception of Ryan L. once who picked Aasbo when their was no scenario on earth he won but we cannot all be perfect. Texas has been an event with protests, drama, delays, and bad accidents in years past so it seems like they finally got this layout to work and I am looking forward to it next season.

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9. Looking Ahead to a Possible Lackluster Irwindale?
Chris Forsberg finished second at Texas after beating Aasbo in the Great 8 which kind of puts a damper on the Formula Drift Irwindale drama. With a podium or finishing two places about Aasbo at Irwindale Forsberg will lock down his third championship. Considering he has hopped on the podium the last six events in a row it seems like it could happen again. Vaughn is eliminated if Forsberg lands in the Great 8 so really it’s a repeat of last year at Irwindale with a larger points gap.
ChelseaDeNofa
8. Where Did It All Go Wrong for Chelsea DeNofa?
Chelsea DeNofa made some serious efforts to run this weekend in Texas by loaning a local Pro Am car and giving it hell but you have to wonder where it all went wrong. Just six months ago we watched DeNofa win his first career event and establish himself as a championship player. Two events later he was removed from grid for having glue on his tires and now after seven rounds he finds himself in 15th place and 288 points behind Chris Forsberg. Talk about the highs and lows of a Formula Drift season.

KennethMoen
7. Has Kenneth Moen Thrown in the Towel?
Kenneth Moen missed another round of Formula Drift and currently sits 29th in the championship points standings. In a realistic world, if the grid was more complete he would be relegated to Pro 2 for next season with a points score of 136 points through seven rounds. His style is so awesome it will be a shame if he doesn’t return for 2017.

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2016 Formula Drift Round 5 in Canada Qualifying [RESULTS]

ForrestWang.Qualifying

Forrest Wang got pretty wild with a top qualifying run after coming out of retirement (watch run). Only 28 drivers made the trek over the border and just 27 of them managed to get a score. Tyler McQuarrie crashed in practice and was unable to fix the car before his qualifying runs. The notable drivers we documented missing from this weekend were Pat Morduant, Kristaps Bluss, Alex Heilbrunn, Kenneth Moen, and Jeff Jones were all missing from the roster. Local star Marc Landerville was added to the competition this weekend and he managed to qualify 11th. Here is how the scores stacked up:

1. Forrest Wang 92
2. Ryan Tuerck 89
3. Justin Pawlak 89
4. Chelsea DeNofa 88
5. Fredric Aasbo 88
6. Dai Yoshihara 88
7. Alec Hohnadell 87
8. Odi Bakchis 86
9. Matt Field 85
10. Chris Forsberg 85
11. Marc Landerville 84
12. Pat Goodin 84
13. Matt Coffman 83
14. Vaughn Gittin Jr. 83
15. Kyle Mohan 81
16. Andrew Gray 81
17. Geoff Stoneback 81
18. Ken Gushi 80
19. Michael Essa 80
20. Charles Ng 79
21. Robbie Nishida 79
22. Dean Kearney 79
23. J Castro 77
24. Cameron Moore 75
25. Mad Mike Whiddett 73
26. Faruk Kugay 70
27. Juha Rintanen 56
28. Tyler McQuarrie 0 (DNR)

Left Bracket
Forrest Wang vs. BYE
Andrewy Gray vs. Geoff Stoneback
Odi Bakchis vs. Mad Mike Whiddett
Matt Field vs. Cameron Moore
Chelsea DeNofa vs. BYE
Matt Coffman vs. Charles Ng
Fredric Aasbo vs. BYE
Pat Goodin vs. Robbie Nishida

Right Bracket
Ryan Tuerck vs. BYE
Kyle Mohan vs. Ken Gushi
Alec Hohnadell vs. Faruk Kugay
Chris Forsberg vs. J Castro
Justin Pawlak vs. BYE
Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. Michael Essa
Dai Yoshihara vs. Juha Rintanen
Marc Landerville vs. Dean Kearney

10 Things I Learned from Formula Drift New Jersey Round 4

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10. The BMW chassis is looking Hot in 2016
Man, the BMW chassis is looking like it should be hot property after this drift season. BMW has seen a podium at 75% of the events this year and some of the most notable drifting has come from the likes of Essa, Moen, Heilbrunn, Bluss, and DeNofa all in the BMW camp. The changes in the series seem to favoring this chassis in a big way.

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9. Vaughn Gittin Jr. Ties Sam Hubinette for Event Wins Record
Vaughn Gittin Jr. battled his good friend Chris Forsberg in the finals at Wall Speedway and won! It was also a tie-breaker between the two friends. Chris Forsberg and Vaughn Gittin Jr. both had 8 event wins going into this event in New Jersey. It also happened to be a home track for both drivers who grew up within hour of Wall. Tons of narrative and storyline here as Vaughn Gittin Jr. prevailed and tied the record holder Sam Hubinette now with 9 event victories. An even crazier point made by our stats guru Jacob Leveton, Vaughn’s first win actually came after Sam Hubinette’s last win of their respective careers.

ForrestWang
8. Forrest Wang Retirement is Tough to Swallow
Forrest Wang retiring from Formula Drift is a tough one to realize and swallow for fans. He has the best drifting style in Formula Drift but all good things must come to an end. I also see him coming back before the end of this season but that is just pure speculation that I have no evidence for. I am kind of bummed that the Wang/Forsberg battle managed to overshadow what was a super exciting event. If you missed the event or have live under a rock, here is our analysis of the Top 16 battle.

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Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. Alex Heilbrunn – OMT Battle – Judging Review with Ryan

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I asked Ryan L. (Formula Drift judge) to come and provide some commentary about his calls. This is his ruling on the Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. Alex Heilbrunn Final Four OMT battle.
Gittin leading: Gittin initiates really well and stays up high on OZ1, rubbing his bumper on the guardrail. Slight lack of proximity on imitation from Hailbrunn, he is lower on OZ1 with less angle. He gains proximity by mid OZ1, joins with Gittin as he comes off of OZ1. Vaughn does a great job on OZ1, Heilbrunn straightens just before he comes off of the bank, and does a slight shimmy on the flat just before IC1, before gaining angle again before IC1. Heilbrunn with low angle passing by IC1, regains proximity by OZ2. Gittin fills OZ2 with angle and hits both IC2 and IC3. Heilbrunn with good proximity through infield to finish, Gittin does a good job of attaining IC4.
AlexHeilbrunnLead
Heilbrunn leading: Good initiation from Heilbrunn, but he is lower on OZ1 than Gittin was, and Gittin has better proximity through OZ1 on the same line as Heilbrunn. Heilbrunn comes off of OZ1 early and passes by IC1 with low angle. Gittin loses proximity exiting OZ1 and by IC1. Heilbrunn with good angle through OZ2, puts one tire up on the bank (1wheel off). Heilbrunn misses IC1 (beyond all 3 hash marks at the clip), misses IC3 (looks like he’s beyond the 3 hash marks as well) with low angle. Gittin has very low proximity at this point. Heilbrunn does a good job of reaching the T&G but is slightly off of IC4. Gittin with somewhat better proximity than through the infield, but still low.
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Judge Ryan L Verdict: I chose Gittin for a few reasons. First of all, Gittin’s lead run was very, very good. Probably the best line and angle combo on OZ1 during all of Top 32. He did what we asked by running as close to a 100 point qualifying lap, which we repeatedly said was very important to do in the lead position. Secondly, Heilbrunn straightened exiting OZ1 while chasing Gittin, which I can’t overlook. Thirdly, Heilbrunn gained some distance on Gittin while leading, but he missed 3 critical points with lower angle while doing so: IC2, IC3 and IC4. It looked like an attempt to get away from Gittin, which he did, but he did not fulfill his duties as a lead driver in doing so.
We pulled clips from this video on NetworkA that shows all of Vaughn’s runs to his victory. Sadly Network A doesn’t have embed capabilities and they also didn’t isolate this run from what I could find:
http://formuladrift.networka.com/na-fd-vgruns

2016 Formula Drift Round 4 at New Jersey [RESULTS]

VaughnGittinJr.ThreeWheelDrift

Vaughn Gittin Jr. continues his focus and domination of the 2016 season in his three wheel Mustang. Wow, a bummer that Forsberg had an issue in follow forcing him to call 5 minutes or this battle could of been for the ages. The Vaughn Gittin Jr. follow run for him to win the event was insane! Rookie Alex Heilbrunn held his own and pushed Vaughn into an OMT battle but didn’t have enough in it. Here is how the podium finishes:

1. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
2. Chris Forsberg
3. Alex Heilbrunn (Rookie)
4. Ken Gushi

2016 Formula Drift Motegi Super Drift Challenge [RESULTS]

MattField

The Motegi Super Drift during the Long Beach Grand Prix had a pretty weak drivers list of 11 that included some Pro 2 drivers to make the field larger than a Top 8. The podium was swept by three drivers who are starting a 2016 season with a new tire company. The final four saw Michael Essa versus Odi Bakchis (#1 qualifier) in the battle of the show that Odi was given the edge on and advanced into the finals. Matt Field made easy work of Dean Kearney in the Final Four with a big mistake from Dean pushing him into the finals.

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The $25,000 payout is a nice chunk in the wallet for the top Formula Drift drivers. Here is how the event finished up:
1. Matt Field
2. Michael Essa
3. Odi Bakchis
4. Dean Kearney
5. Kyle Mohan
6. Jeff Jones
7. Ryan Litteral
8. Fredric Aasbo
9. Justin Pawlak
10. Trenton Beechum
11. Alex Heilbrunn

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