A big main event weekend finished up at Wall Speedway while Forsberg lost a door mid-drift and kept going and Daigo Saito took home another victory. In the past nine seasons tandem has never been this close or entertaining at Wall Speedway. Enjoy my extensive gallery of photos from the Top 32 all the way to the podium from the Round 4 weekend of Formula Drift.
After a third consecutive podium, Daigo Saito is increasing his lead on a quest to win his second consecutive championship. After being knocked out in the top 16, both Vaughn Gittin Jr and Mike Essa lost ground on Saito in the points standings. Forsberg remains in fourth after his second podium this season, while Pawlak moves from 8th to 5th with his first podium of the season. Here’s how the points shape up after four events in the season:
The final was pretty wild at Wall Speedway this year. It wasn’t quite as excited compared to the last time JTP and Daigo met at Palm Beach in 2012 where we saw a battle on the track and one off the track (reference link here if you forgot.) The final eight drivers in the great 8 were also the top eight qualifiers of the weekend. Perhaps a recipe from a new track layout? Chris Forsberg and Darren McNamara had such an awesome battle that Forsberg lost his passenger side door in the process of taking home 3rd place. Justin Pawlak spun on the follow run but clearly shows Justin is liking the new setup in his Ford Mustang.
1st. Daigo Saito
2. Justin Pawlak
3. Chris Forsberg
4. Darren McNamara
Justin Pawlak locked down top honors thanks to the new qualifying format (otherwise Ryan Kado would of seen his first first place qualifying spot) but he couldn’t get the job done on the first run like Justin Pawlak. Speaking with Justin at an event in downtown Los Angeles last week he told me the car feels better than it ever has with the 2013 changes and its a work in progress but it will end up being better than ever before. Perhaps this is the beginning of that new era he spoke about starting up. Here is how the Top 32 runs will be and a list of how they qualified:
1.Justin Pawlak vs. 32. Nate Hamilton
16. Danny George vs. 17. Ryan Kado
8. Conrad Grunewald vs. 25. Miro Ovcharik
9. Chelsea DeNofa vs. 24. Matt Powers
4. Chris Forsberg vs. 29. Carl Rydquist
13. Michael Essa vs. Chris Ward
5. Tyler McQuarrie vs. 28. Jeff Jones
12. Kyle Mohan vs. 21. Marc Landerville
(Other Side of Bracket)
2. Darren McNamara vs. 31. Pat Goodin
15. Dean Kearney vs. 18. Ryan Tuerck
7. Robbie Nishida vs. 26. Corey Hosford
10. Kenneth Moen vs. 23. Odi Bakchis
3. Fredric Aasbo vs. 30. Dai Yoshihara
14. Jhonnatthan Castro vs. Matt Field
6. Daigo Saito vs. 27. Taka Aono
11. Vaughn Gittin vs. Ken Gushi
Qualifying List in Order
1. Justin Pawlak
2. Darren McNamara
3. Fredric Aasbo
4. Chris Forsberg
5. Tyler McQuarrie
6. Daigo Saito
7. Robbie Nishida
8. Conrad Grunewald
9. Chelsea DeNofa
10. Kenneth Moen
11. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
12. Kyle Mohan
13. Michael Essa
14. Jhonnatthan Castro
15. Dean Kearney
16. Danny George
17. Ryan Kado
18. Ryan Tuerck
19. Matt Field
20. Chris Ward
21. Marc Landerville
22. Ken Gushi
23. Odi Bakchis
24. Matt Powers
25. Miro Ovcharik
26. Corey Hosford
27. Taka Aono
28. Jeff Jones
29. Carl Rydquist
30. Dai Yoshihara
31. Pat Goodin
32. Nate Hamilton
After two passes in the humid Florida air, Justin Pawlak rose above the rest of the pack to claim the top qualifier position. Pawlak won the first event at Palm Beach Raceway back in 2011, so he seems quite comfortable on track. Here’s the full qualifying order:
1 – Justin Pawlak
2 – Kenneth Moen
3 – Daigo Saito
4 – Chris Forsberg
5 – Mats Baribeau (R)
6 - Dai Yoshihara
7 - Vaughn Gittin Jr
8 – Dave Briggs
9 – Tony Angelo
10 – Conrad Grunewald
11 – Matt Field
12 – Taka Aono
13 – Ryan Tuerck
14 – Miro Ovcharik
15 – Chelsea Denofa
16 – Chris Ward
17 – Robbie Nishida
18 – Fredric Aasbo
19 – Forrest Wang
20 – Odi Bakchis
21 – Mike Essa
22 – Brandon Wicknick (R)
23 – Darren McNamara
24 – Joon Maeng
25 – Jeremy Lowe
26 – Ryan Kado
27 – Danny George
28 – Tyler McQuarrie
29 – Dean Kearney
30 – Pat Goodin
31 – Jeff Jones
32 – Kyle Mohan
Notable names who did not make the cut include Ken Gushi, Walker Wilkerson, and Matt Powers.
Here are how the tandem battles are shaping up:
1 Pawlak vs 32 Mohan
16 Ward vs 17 Nishida
8 Briggs vs 25 Lowe
9 Angelo vs 24 Maeng
4 Forsberg vs 29 Kearney
13 Tuerck vs 20 Bakchis
5 Baribeau vs 28 McQuarrie
12 Aono vs 21 Essa
2 Moen vs 31 Jones
15 DeNofa vs 18 Aasbo
7 Gittin Jr vs 26 Kado
10 Grunewald vs 23 McNamara
3 Saito vs 30 Goodin
14 Ovcharik vs 19 Wang
6 Yoshihara vs 27 George
11 Field vs 22 Wicknick
Since everyone tends to always swarm the web with comments, conspiracy theories, and meme’s (some I will admit are pretty funny) after each event; and it seems especially abundant with the last round in Atlanta, I figured I would chime in and give some insight from the judges’ side regarding some of the match-ups this past weekend. Like Jarod has said before to many of the crowds at the events; you wouldn’t speak up if you didn’t care, and I feel the exact same way and am glad you all show so much emotion and enthusiasm for the sport. My initial take on most comments about the events are that many people may not fully understand our side of things. I used to be the exact same way, I would either sit at home or be present in the crowd and wonder why the judges voted one way as opposed to what I thought was the obvious right call. Having now been on both sides of the fence, I hope I can help shed some light into this and make things more transparent for everyone.
First, you have to understand and accept the face that the rules may change from year to year. Drifting is still a new sport and things will (and I hope) continually evolve as the sport continues to grow. Therefore, you can’t always base one season against another season, the rules may be completely contradictory in certain circumstances. If we took the 2004 season and compared it to the 2013 season, I’m sure many calls and events would end up with very different results. This is even the case if you compare the 2012 season versus the 2013 season [see Essa versus Hosford example below]. As for this season’s rules; we revisit them at each event’s first driver meeting so that drivers, spotters, and teams are made aware (if it’s their first round of the season) and reminded of them (even if they’ve been at every round). Here are some notable highlights regarding our rules and scoring for 2013 that some of you may or may not be aware of:
Eachjudge is responsible for 30 points and the remaining 10 points are based on speed. 100 points total = 40 Style (30 from Style judge + 5 points from Angle judge + 5 points from Line judge) + 25 Line + 25 Angle + 10 Speed
The Speed category is worth zero through 10 points and is measured at a specific point on the course as determined by the judges and made known during a driver’s meeting for each event. The judges will determine the median speed for qualifying and announce it at a driver’s meeting prior to qualifying. Drivers will receive 5 points for achieving the median speed set by the judges. For every 1/10th of a mile per hour achieved by the driver above the minimum speed set by the judges, the driver will receive 1/10th of a point up to a maximum of 10 total points. No points above a total of 10 will given for speeds exceeding the speed scoring range. For every 1/10th of a mile the driver misses the median speed by, 1/10th of a point will be deducted from the possible 5 point median score, down to a minimum score of 0 points. Negative scores will not be given. The Line, Angle and Style judges may award points in one (1) point increments or whole numbers for their specific criterion.
Speed is set on a median speed determined on practice sessions and scaling based on exact MPH to 1/10th of a MPH.
Qualifying Score Example w/Median Speed of 55MPH
Line Judge: 22 points + 4 points Style
Angle Judge: 22 points + 3 points Style
Style Judge: 26 points
Speed: 51.2MPH = 1.2 points Line (22 pts) + Angle (22 pts) + Style (33 pts) + Speed (1.2 pts)
Total Score: 78.2 pts
A median dry speed will be set by the judges prior to Qualifying based on speeds recorded during the practice sessions. Dry speed conditions will be in effect as long as a green flag is displaying from the judges tower. In cases of wet speed conditions, a yellow flag will replace the green flag and be displayed from the judges tower. A median wet speed will be calculated by averaging the speeds of all runs made by drivers during the duration of the yellow flag being displayed and using a multiplier to make the wet speed average equal the median dry speed. All wet speed runs made by drivers will then have the multiplier added to their speed scores to offset the wet track conditions. This wet median speed multiplier will be relayed to the teams once the yellow flag session has ended, either by returning to dry conditions or a driver making the last qualifying run of the session.
During a qualifying run, drivers are responsible for exhibiting high levels of control, finesse, and speed to navigate a course layout that will be defined and described by the judges. Drivers can score up to a 100 point total based on their ability to complete each course to the level of speed, vehicle angle, and adherence to the line deemed perfect by the Judges. Drivers will be deducted points for any deviance from the desired speed, angle, and line during each run, while deductions will also be made for corrections and mistakes performed by the drivers while trying to navigate the course as outlined by the judges. A score of zero (0) will be given for mistakes listed in the sporting rules under ‘what constitutes a zero’.
QUALIFYING – STYLE
Initiation - Initiations are expected to be quick, aggressive, confident, and performed no later than the initiation point designated by the judges. Deductions will be made for the following initiations:
Weak – An initiation that is considered lazy and lacking confidence. (-2 points)
Late – An initiation performed later than the initiation point designated by the judges. (-4 points)
Double- An initiation that is not sufficient to achieve a drift, causing the driver to reinitiate at a later point on the track. A combination of A and B above. (-6 points)
Corrections - A correction is something the driver does to compensate for an impending deviation from, or to avoid a deviation from, one of the 3 tenets of drifting: Speed, Angle, or Line.
Excessive E-brake – When the e-brake is used excessively to adjust or correct a driver error. (-2.5 points)
Bobble – When a car’s angle fluctuates in an area where steady angle should be maintained, to either correct an error or as the result of an error. (-2.5 points)
Heavy Lift/Off Throttle – When the throttle is released for an unnatural length of time to slow the car to avoid making a mistake. (-2.5 points)
Excessive Rev Limiter - When the throttle is applied at or near the maximum while in the wrong gear, generally to avoid a stall as listed under “mistakes”. (-2.5 points)
Miscellaneous- For use by the judges in the case of corrections not listed above. (-1 to -5 points)
Mistakes - A mistake is a deviation from one of the 3 tenets of drifting: Speed, Angle or Line. Mistakes are deducted at a rate of twice that of corrections.
Stall- Angle and Line have been adhered to, but the speed has not been maintained through a specific area on the track, causing the car to slow abruptly. (-5 points)
One Tire Off- One of the car’s tires has gone outside the designated course outline. (-5 points)
Contact with Inner Clipping Point – The car has made contact with one of the inner clipping points – impact severity at judge’s discretion. (-5points)
Zero- A zero score will be given when one of the following errors is made:
Loss of Drift – Includes: Spin, straightening, understeer.
Opposite Drift – Performing a manji where constant angle is required.
Two Tires Off – Two of the car’s tires have gone outside of the designated course outline.
Hood, Hatch/Trunk and/or Doors Opening During a Run- Any of the body parts listed have opened during a run.
Wall Hit - Contact that causes an abrupt change in the vehicle’s angle, line or speed and/or causes a spin.
Contact with “Off Course Markers” – At specified areas on certain tracks where the judges’ visibility is compromised, markers will be placed in strategic areas off of the course to aid in determining if a vehicle has gone two tires off, as listed in C above. These areas will be discussed in detail prior to the Qualifying in the drivers meeting.
TANDEM: Passing – Passing is allowed in Formula DRIFT. Passing is allowed anywhere on course as long as the lead car is clearly off the line the judges have specified. A pass is considered to occur once the chase car’s front wheels surpass the plane of the lead car’s front wheels. Any passing that occurs outside the scope of the aforementioned criteria will be deemed illegal and constitute an equivalence to a zero (0) run.
Two Strikes – Two or more of the following items constitute and automatic zero in tandem:
One tire off course
Hitting a cone or course marker
Zero– same as in Qualifying [see above].
Last year, we had a rule that said if two tires were off, it was scored as a zero run. In Seattle, Justin Pawlak was running against Jeremy Lowe and there was a critical decision made as they transitioned from the bank into the infield. We [the judges] determined that JTP had two tires off the track and scored his run as a zero, potentially causing to him lose the matchup. At the time, based on our live view from the judges stand and the replay footage, it appeared that our call was correct. However, after the event, we were able to watch a different camera angle (unavailable to us at the time of the decision) which showed a very compelling argument that only one tire was off track. It didn’t 100% disprove our call, but it did raise potential doubt. Therefore, this year we changed the rulebook to now err in the favor of the driver. The 2013 rule is that a tire is considered on track unless we can clearly determine that the tire is without a doubt off track. We are now giving the driver the benefit of doubt and essentially making them innocent of the deduction unless proven guilty. This now puts the burden of proving a tire was off track on the judges, rather than having the driver protest later and show that a tire was in fact on the track after the decision has already been made.
In the matchup of Michael Essa versus Corey Hosford in Atlanta, this was a prime example of the new rule being enforced. Now before I continue, I must make it known that the rumble strip was considered part of the track, and therefore drivers would not be penalized for a tire on the rumble strip. This also allowed drivers an extra foot of wiggle room for Outer Zone 1, because the track had an additional foot of asphalt paved on the other side of the rumble strip [see George versus Tuerck example below]. Based on our live view from the judges stand and the replay footage, it was deemed inconclusive to positively determine if the passenger front or driver rear tires were past the edge of the rumble strip and in the dirt. By not being able to 100% confirm that the second tire was off the rumble strip, we erred on the side of the driver [Essa] and agreed that only one tire was off course for Essa’s run. Now as for our individual scores on this matchup, I contacted the other judges to get their side of their decision making process:
IC = Inner Clip, OZ = Outer Zone, TAG = Touch and Go point (this was the rumble strip on the driver’s right between IC1 and OZ1. It was limited to the middle of the rumble strip to the end of the rumble strip closest to OZ1 and was mentioned during the driver’s meetings).
Run 1. Essa leading Hosford.
Essa was off track and scored him a zero.
Hosford straightened up entering the horseshoe with an under and re-initiate, and therefore scored him a zero.
Ruled both drivers with a zero.
Run 2. Hosford leading Essa.
Hosford was very shallow on line going into horseshoe and went way wide on IC2.
Essa chase was decent with about 45-50% of proximity and looses a good amount of it due to Hosford’s poor exit after IC2 exiting the horseshoe. Ruled that run even.
Result = could not determine a clear winner, OMT.
Run 1. Essa leading Hosford.
Essa drops one tire.
Hosford straightens at OZ1 and then falls back. Ruled Essa one strike for one tire off and Hosford a zero. Run 2. Hosford leading Essa.
Hosford initiates far off the rumble strip and is off on IC1.
Essa had a nice initiation in sync with Hosford.
Hosford is shallow coming up towards OZ1.
Hosford is off at OZ2 and missed IC2.
Essa has a bobble at IC2 and falls back. Ruled that run in favor of Essa. Essa made a correction while chasing, but it was nowhere near Hosford’s mistake while chasing.
Result = Essa.
Run 1. Essa leading Hosford.
Essa had good entry and made it to the rumble strip. Hosford had a shallower line and angle on entry.
Essa slightly off at IC1 and carried too much speed past IC1 and drops one tire off opposite side of track.
Essa managed to stay on track and hit TAG1. Hosford ran the middle of the track and as a result missed the TAG1.
Essa was able to fill both OZ1 and OZ2 with good angle. Hosford ran shallow line and angle at OZ1 and OZ2. .
Essa was right on IC2. Hosford swung wide past IC2 and missed it.
Essa hits TAG2 on return and Hosford barely misses TAG2.
Both drivers hit IC1 on return. Ruled even for both drivers. Run 2. Hosford leading Essa.
Hosford ran a shallower line on entry. Essa follows the same line and angle as Hosford.
Both drivers are fairly close to IC1.
Hosford slightly off at TAG1. Essa follows same line at TAG1.
Hosford runs a shallow line at OZ1 and OZ2. Essa runs same line, possibly a little deeper in both zones.
Hosford runs wide and missds IC2. Essa bobbled at IC2.
Hosford missed the TAG2 on the return. Essa hit TAG2 on return. Ruled slight advantage to Essa.
Result = Essa
As for Danny George versus Ryan Tuerck in Atlanta, the reason George lost wasn’t solely for the contact made with Tuerck on the second run. George earned a zero on his lead run for drawing two strikes; one strike for “one tire off” at OZ1 and one strike for “hitting a cone or course marker” at OZ1. Other than that, George’s lead run was impressive, but unfortunately he drew two strikes in the same portion of the track off of one mistake. Had his car been just a few inches further up the track, he may have missed the OZ1 clipping point marker and then only drawn one strike for having “one tire off”. We applaud George for being honest on the second run and alerting us that he did make contact with Tuerck.
I’m sure this doesn’t even scrape the surface about the confusion that may be experienced by some people, but I hope that this at least brings some of the rules and logic behind the decisions we make in some of the matchups to light. This took quite a bit of time to write up, so obviously we couldn’t do this for every matchup at each event, but maybe for some of the more controversial battles it may help in the future if we could explain in greater detail how we reach our decisions. Hopefully this will help heading into Round 3 in Palm Beach at the end of the month.
After a disappointing top 8 exit at the hands of Dai Yoshihara in Long Beach, Freddy Aasbo has emerged from qualifying in Atlanta with the top position. Mike Essa, Justin Pawlak, Chelsea Denofa, and Daigo Saito all earn key qualifying points with runs that landed them in the top 5. Here’s the entire qualifying order from Road Atlanta:
1 – Fredric Aasbo
2 – Mike Essa
3 – Justin Pawlak
4 – Chelsea Denofa
5 – Daigo Saito
6 – Darren McNamara
7 – Matt Powers
8 – Matt Field
9 – Vaughn Gittin Jr
10 – Chris Forsberg
11 – Odi Bakchis
12 – Forrest Wang
13 – Jeff JOnes
14 – Danny George
15 – Dai Yoshihara
16 – Kenny Moen
17 – Robbie Nishida
18 – Conrad Grunewald
19 – Ryan Tuerck
20 – Kyle Mohan
21 – Miro Ovcharik
22 – Toshiki Yoshioka
23 – Taka Aono
24 – Dave Briggs
25 – Chris Ward
26 – Will Parsons
27 – Nate Hamilton
28 – Pat Mordaunt
29 – Joon Maeng
30 – Pat Goodin
31 – Corey Hosford
32 – Walker Wilkerson
Here are the tandem matchups for tomorrow:
1 Freddy Aasbo vs 32 Walker Wilkerson
16 Kenny MOen vs 17 Robbie Nishida
8 Matt Field vs 25 Chris Ward
9 Vaughn Gittin Jr vs 25 Dave Briggs
4 Chelsea Denofa vs 29 Joon Maeng
13 Jeff Jones vs 20 Kyle Mohan
5 Daigo Saito vs 28 Pat Mordaunt
17 Forrest Wang vs 21 Miro Ovcharik
2 Mike Essa vs 31 Corey Hosford
15 Dai Yoshihara vs 18 Conrad Grunewald
7 Matt Powers vs 26 Will Parsons
10 Chris Forsberg vs 23 Taka Aono
3 Justin Pawlak vs 30 Pat Goodin
14 Danny George vs 19 Ryan Tuerck
6 Darren McNamara vs 27 Nate Hamilton
11 Odi Bakchis vs 22 Toshiki Yoshioka
Justin Pawlak brought his Falken Tire Ford Mustang to Panama last month along with Matt Powers, Joon Maeng, and Odi Bakchis. This video documents Justin Pawlak’s trip, and gives us a cool behind-the-scenes look at one of the many international demos that FD does each year.