Formula D

What it takes to win in 2015: Ken Gushi

Gushi Texas

Current Formula D Championship Standings (after 6 rounds):

1. Fredric Aasbo 428 Points
2. Ken Gushi 348 Points
3. Ryan Tuerck 332 Points
4. Chris Forsberg 331 Points

To say that Gushi has turned heads this year is an understatement. Gushi has finished in 13th, 21st, and 8th overall over the past three seasons respectively, and hadn’t podiumed since Sonoma in 2009 entering this season. With a trio of podiums at Atlanta, Orlando, and Texas, combined with a pair of top qualifiers back-to-back at Orlando and New Jersey, Gushi has nearly as much hardware this season as in previous 11 seasons combined. With Gittin Jr. missing Irwindale, the list of drivers who have attended every single Formula Drift event to date will shrink down to just Gushi, Forsberg, and Yoshihara. Of that list, Gushi is the lone driver without a championship (Forsberg 2007 & 2014, Yoshihara in 2011).

Should Aasbo qualify 1st overall on Friday, Gushi must qualify in eighth or higher position to have a shot at the championship. If Aasbo qualifies in second, then Gushi will need a qualifying effort in the top 16 to still remain in the chase. Should Aasbo qualify in third position, any qualifying effort in the top 32 will keep Gushi’s hopes alive. However, in all scenarios where both Gushi and Aasbo are driving on Saturday, Gushi must win the event AND Aasbo must lose his top 32 battle. If Aasbo moves on to the top 16, Gushi’s hopes for his first championship will end.

In the wildest scenario where Aasbo does not qualify for top 32, Gushi will still need to make the final round of competition to still have a shot at the championship. Should Gushi face either Forsberg or Tuerck in the final round under the same scenario of Aasbo watching all of the Saturday competition from the bleachers, then qualifying results from Friday would determine whether Gushi would need to win to clinch the championship, or whether Forsberg or Tuerck could win the championship with the event win. We will have an updated post after qualifying on Friday with the specifics, but if Tuerck or Forsberg earn 3 or 4 more championship points ing via qualifyrespectively than Gushi, then the championship could come down to the final battle at Irwindale for the second consecutive year. That scenario has a lot of ‘what-ifs’ going on, which we will recap after we know the results from Friday as they are far too numerous to run through.

Gushi has been a popular topic of discussion this season, thanks to his resurgence in the Scion FR-S. Gushi was the #1 topic in the ’10 things I learned’ article from Atlanta, and Joey even predicted that Gushi will be 2016 champion in his ’10 things I learned’ article from Texas. This is the first season since 2005 that Gushi will finish in the top 5 overall, and the confidence gained this season will undoubtedly motivate him towards success next season.

What it takes to win in 2015: Ryan Tuerck

Tuerck Texas

Current Formula D Championship Standings (after 6 rounds):

1. Fredric Aasbo 428 Points
2. Ken Gushi 348 Points
3. Ryan Tuerck 332 Points
4. Chris Forsberg 331 Points

Moving from Chris Forsberg to Ryan Tuerck for our second day of profiling the 2015 Formula Drift championship chase, not much changes as far as the winning scenario. Should Fredric Aasbo qualify in top 32, Tuerck will be unable to make up the 96 point difference. As with Forsberg, should Aasbo miss the cut for Top 32, Tuerck would need to win the event to overtake Aasbo in the standings. Anything less than an event win would keep the elusive championship out of Tuerck’s hands.

Tuerck does have the opportunity to beat out Ken Gushi and finish in second in the championship, which would tie his career best finish from 2009. With just 16 points separating Tuerck from Gushi, Tuerck can overtake Gushi by finishing at least two rounds ahead of Gushi, or finishing one round ahead of Gushi and earning at least 1 more championship point via qualifying than Gushi. Finishing ahead of Gushi would be especially satisfying as Tuerck’s program is not a factory-backed program, unlike both Gushi and Aasbo. Should Tuerck, Aasbo, and Gushi finish 1-2-3 in any order, it would mark the first time a single manufacturer has swept the entire championship podium.

Overall, Tuerck is likely to celebrate the season as a success. Earning his first podium at Long Beach since Irwindale in 2012, and his first event win since Irwindale 2009, Tuerck has looked much more comfortable in his Scion FR-S chassis. His three total podiums ties all four championship contenders for most on the season and ties the most in a single season of his career (2009). Should Tuerck earn another podium at Irwindale, it would set a career high mark for him. Although Tuerck has done well overall this season, he has the fewest championship points from qualifying of any of the top 4 drivers, and hasn’t earned a top qualifier award since 2010. All in all, it was definitely a step up for Tuerck, who finished 14th in 2013 and 12th last season.

What it takes to win in 2015: Chris Forsberg


Current Formula D Championship Standings (after 6 rounds):

1. Fredric Aasbo 428 Points
2. Ken Gushi 348 Points
3. Ryan Tuerck 332 Points
4. Chris Forsberg 331 Points

Each year, we like to give the fans a quick guide of what to expect entering the final event of the season. This year’s final championship standings are much less interesting than in past seasons, but there is still a chase to discuss due in large part to Aasbo’s Elite 8 exit in Texas.

For current champion Chris Forsberg, sitting 97 points behind Aasbo with only a maximum of 107 points available in an event is not an ideal situation. As soon as Aasbo turns a wheel on a qualifying pass, he will earn 1 point which reduces the potential points available to 106 points. If Aasbo does qualify for Saturday’s Tandem ladder, which he has done in every round since joining the Papadakis Racing team in 2011, Forsberg will be statistically eliminated. Aasbo would earn 18 points for qualifying even in 32nd position (16 for making the top 32, 1 point for making a qualifying pass, and 1 point for qualifying anywhere from 17th to 32nd), and even if Forsberg were to win the event (100 points) and earn top qualifier (6 points for qualifying position + 1 point for making a qualifying pass), he would only make up 89 championship points.

However, this is drifting, and crazier things have happened. Last year, the Papadakis Racing team had to swap a fresh motor into Aasbo’s car as they had issues late in the final practice before qualifying. Should Aasbo have mechanical issues or even crash in his first qualifying pass, the pressure on the second qualifying pass could be quite intimidating.

Even if the unthinkable were to happen and Aasbo misses qualifying for the Top 32 tandem ladder, Forsberg would need to win the event to overtake Aasbo. Anything less than a win would leave him short of overtaking the 97 points he needs to bump Aasbo. If Forsberg were to overcome the miracle, he would become the first three-time Formula Drift champion, and the first back-to-back champion since Tanner Foust in 2008.

As a reminder, here’s a look at how Championship Points are awarded in 2015: Read More…

2015 Formula D Promotion and Relegation: Irwindale Pro Class Preview


Expanding on yesterday’s Promotion and Relegation preview for the Pro 2 class, today we take a look at Formula D’s top Pro class and who’s at risk of being dropped to the lower class for the 2016 season. We will get into the chase for the 2015 Formula Drift championship with our well-known “What it takes to win” series later this week.

As the top class in the Formula Drift series, there’s no opportunity for ‘promotion’ available. Instead, the top 32 drivers in the series will maintain their Pro class license, while drivers falling below 32nd in the final standings will be relegated to the Pro 2 class. Currently, drivers like Kristaps Bluss, Michael Essa, Jeff Jones, Kyle Mohan, and Nate Hamilton are sitting above the relegation point, while drivers like Marc Landreville, James Evans, Brandon Wicknick, and Mats Baribeau will face possible relegation. For Wicknick and Evans, they are sitting in position to be promoted via the Pro 2 class, so they would be permitted to stay in the Pro class due to the smart decision they made to drive in both series.

Most interestingly, Tanner Foust currently sits in 37th position in the standings due mostly to only participating on a limited schedule. Should Foust make it to the Final Four at Irwindale, he would earn no fewer than 66 points (64 points for tandem plus at least 2 points for qualifying), which would jump him up above the red line as it sits now. However, that still may not be enough as some of the drivers below the current red line may qualify and move up as well. In reality, anything less than a final round appearance for Foust (earning 80 points for second or 100 points for first, plus qualifying points) may put him in a position to be relegated to the Pro 2 class.

Of course, Formula Drift does have a petition process (which is how Foust was permitted to re-enter the series directly into the Pro class), but it is unclear at this time if he would be permitted to remain in the top Pro class given that he petitioned last season.

In 2014, two drivers who stayed above the relegation line chose not to compete in 2015 (Darren McNamara and Ryan Kado). Formula D did NOT permit the 33rd or 34th ranked drivers to move up in the standings and remain in the Pro Class, and were only permitted to compete in Pro 2. We expect this precedent to continue, as the bar has remained the same all season. If you want to stay in the top Pro class, you must finish the season in the top 32 final standings.

In case you want to tally points live at the event, here’s how the Formula Drift championship points are allocated:

Read More…

2015 Formula D Promotion & Relegation: Pro 2 Class Irwindale Preview


With the expansion of Formula Drift into two classes starting in 2014, movement between the classes now must be monitored just as equally as the actual championship standings. As we approach the final event of the 2015 season, Pro 2 drivers will be looking to either earn a promotion to the Pro class or, at the very least, maintain their Pro 2 license.

On the promotion side of things, the top 8 drivers will earn their way into the more prestigious Pro class. Due to the gap in points, the current top four drivers (Alex Heilbrunn, James Evans, Andy Gray, and Faruk Kugay) are virtually guaranteed to earn their way into the higher class for 2016. Currently, Brody Goble, Brandon Wicknick, Taylor Hull, and Dave Briggs are in the position to be promoted, although Jeff Jones is just one point behind Brigss (Jones is above the relegation line in the Pro class, so he will likely remain in the Pro class). With a top 16 appearance earning no fewer than 35 points (32 in tandem points and no fewer than 3 qualifying points), the first step in earning the promotion will be to make the top 16 cut via Thursday qualifying. A final four appearance earns no fewer than 67 points (64 for tandem, no less than 3 for qualifying), so there’s a chance for some substantial swings on this list.

On the relegation side of the house, the rules state that drivers who earn 64 points will remain in the Pro 2 class, which means drivers above the pink line are currently safe to stay in Pro 2 for the 2016 season. Any driver below the line who fails to make the top 16 cut will not be permitted to drive in Pro 2 for 2016, and will be relegated to their local ProAm series. In essence, the 64-point bar is equivalent to two top 16 appearances, which makes sense. Although this season’s Pro 2 class was much more competitive than last season, if you’re unable to make the Top 16 at least twice in the season, it’s probably not logical for a driver to continue to compete in the class.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the higher Pro class, and see who’s in position to stay above the relegation line.

Formula Drift World Championship Cancels Last Round in China


I have been pretty vocal on how I think the validity of the Formula Drift “World Championship” was kind of a joke or a really low starting point (I get you have to start somewhere) for the premiere drift series in the world. After ignoring Europe and only visiting Canada, Japan, and China it seemed like the World Championship was a lack luster award to pursue. Now due to circumstances out of Formula Drift’s control, China has been canceled.

I did confirm with Ryan Sage that the Formula Drift World Championship final round will now be Irwindale Speedway. It is most likely the World Championship Award Ceremony will also be held there. Looks like Fredric Aasbo can easily take a double championship next weekend. This sure makes the new course layout and the pressure for him to qualify step up a level or two.


Here is the series PR regarding the matter –

Long Beach, Calif. – September 29, 2015 – Formula DRIFT announced today the cancellation of the final round of the World Championship that was originally scheduled for December 2015 in southern China.

The Formula DRIFT team has been working very hard to make this event a new and exciting part of our Series, but unfortunately Irena World and Goldenport Enterprises did not meet their contractual obligations. Our ability to operate events depends on the mutual effort of our partners and without that, we cannot put our sponsors, teams and employees at any unwarranted risk.

Due to the cancellation, Round 7 at Irwindale Speedway will be the final round of the World Championship and will be worth double points for the World Championship contenders. We will also still honor our World Championship prize purse.



The New Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Layout

Screenshot 2015-09-29 11.59.34

The Formula Drift House of Drift carries a large and famous name around drifting in America. It was the birthplace of professional drifting in America and has produced so many significant moments in drifting history. In recent years, we have seen Daigo Saito go undefeated at this track and we wonder if he will ever lose.

For the first time with the track change above, it appears Formula Drift will be running the complete inner bank for a competition lap. This will kill the media pocket that has been sitting here in years past which might hurt picture/video opportunities coming out of the event. However, the high crash impact zone of Outside Zone 2 over the past years is always the most exciting area of the track which seems to make or break a drivers performance. Now, this section is long and dragged out producing higher quality tandem runs from years past.

Personally, I go back in time to my favorite Irwindale Speedway battle in history between Matt Field vs. Daigo Saito and practically salivate at how good those guys would of been in tandem under this new track layout. Fredric Aasbo basically has the championship in the bag so a track change will at least give us something to chat about over the next two weeks. What do you think of the new setup?

Vaughn Gittin Jr. is Going to Miss Irwindale speedway


Well, Vaughn Gittin Jr. has made the news official that he won’t be making Irwindale Speedway next month per his FB. This leaves just Dai Yoshihara, Ken Gushi, and Chris Forsberg as the three drivers to compete in every Formula Drift event in history to date. It will be an odd thing to not see Vaughn Gittin Jr. turn a wheel at the House of Drift coming up next month. His backup car is currently on the way to Japan to compete in the D1GP Odaiba weekend. Here is a look at his crash from Texas Motor Speedway in case you missed it. He will probably fall to around 15th in the championship with a no show at Irwindale. He is reportedly in the process of building a new S550 chassis for Formula Drift 2016 now.

2015 Formula Drift World Championship in Canada [GALLERY]






Formula Drift Canada brought most of the big American stars over to compete in the World Championship Round. Jeremy Glover was on the scene for us in Canada capturing the performances of local and international drivers.

Check out the Gallery:

2015 Formula Drift Japan at Suzuka [RESULTS]


The second Formula Drift Japan event of 2015 finished up this weekend at Szukua. Andy Gray dominated the event with his great style and aggressive tandems. He even took home 500,000 yen ($4,162 US) for his victory. This was not a Formula Drift World Championship event so points don’t count towards anything. Dai Yoshihara was even in attendance for the weekend as a guest judge. Here is how they finished up –

1. Andy Gray
2. Seimi Tanaka
3. Toshimitsu Masuda