Kuniaki Takahashi

Formula Drift Japan / MSC Round 1 – Tsukuba [RESULTS]

KuniakiTakahashi-FDJapan

Although we didn’t see any sort of official press release, it looks like this year’s entire Drift Muscle / MSC series will be branded as Formula Drift Japan. The first event took place over the weekend at Tsukuba, and former FD USA driver Kuniaki Takahashi took the win in his big body Toyota Mark X. Round 2 will take place in July at Fuji and will count towards the Formula Drift World Championship.

1st – Kuniaki Takahashi
2nd – Kazuki Hayashi
3rd – Daigo Saito

2014 Formula Drift Championship [RESULTS]

ForsbergWallNJ-1230

All seven rounds of Formula Drift are in the books for 2014. Chris Forsberg ends up the 2014 champion but a margin of just 11 points which came down to the very last tandem battle of 2014. Daigo Saito finally had a motor hold together and was able to make a huge jump in the championship points as well. All Top 32 drivers are given a Pro license for next year while 33 and beyond are relegated into Pro 2. Here is how they finished:

1. Chris Forsberg
2. Fredric Aasbo
3. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
4. Odi Bakchis
5. Forrest Wang
6. Kenneth Moen
7. Darren McNamara
8. Dean Kearney
9. Justin Pawlak
10. Conrad Grunewald
11. Robbie Nishida
12. Ryan Tuerck
13. Ken Gushi
14. Daigo Saito
15. Matt Field
16. Michael Essa
Read More…

2014 Formula Drift Round 2 at Road Atlanta [GALLERY]


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MattField

Takahashi.Lexus

Our photographer and Twitter information sender Jason Scott braved the rain and delivered awesome content from morning practice and the rain filled qualifying. Enjoy the new cars, Pat Mordaunt’s rental, and the classics taking on the best circuit on the season.

Check out the Gallery: http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=398

2014 Formula Drift Road Atlanta – Through the Rain – Qualifying [RESULTS]

ForrestWang

During a southern downpour qualifying continued and ran 4 hours in time. Drivers were given a tester/feel lap then had to go and make a judged run right after. The track started to dry up about halfway through the second passes which is the result of the big points gap in the scores.

1. Forrest Wang
2. Tyler McQuarrie
3. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
4. Ryan Tuerck
5. Chris Forsberg
6. Chelsea DeNofa
7. Ken Gushi
8. Fredric Aasbo
9. Conrad Grunewald
10. Jhonnattan Castro
11. Kenneth Moen
12. Kuniaki Takahashi*
13. Odi Bakchis
14. Justin Pawlak
15. Kyle Mohan
16. Daigo Saito
17. Danny George
18. Darren McNamara
19. Pat Goodin
20. Michael Essa
21. Charles Ng
22. Dai Yoshihara
23. Dean Kearney
24. Marc Landerville
25. Matt Field
26. Ryan Kado
27. Alec Hohnadell*
28. Rapper Dan Savage*
29. Patrick Mordaunt
30. Geoff Stoneback*
31. Robbie Nishida
32. Jeff Jones

 

Top 32 Tandem Battles
Read More…

Motegi Super Drift Challenge at Long Beach Grand Prix [GALLERY]

MichaelEssa.OdiBakchis

BrandonWicknick.DaigoSaito

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Super Drift finished up last night with Daigo Saito taking home the $25,000 and victory for the weekend. Fans went wild for a couple battles through the weekend and even with 50 degree temperatures most fans stuck it out through the final round. Check out the gallery from this Long Beach Grand Prix race at night.

 

Check out the Gallery: http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=388

Motegi Super Drift $25k Challenge Qualifying [RESULTS]

ForrestWang

Motegi Super Drift $25k Challenge has wrapped up day one with practice and qualifying! Dennis Mertzanis and Brandon Wicknick never managed to make a pass and Robbie Nishida lost his hood due to it not being latched on the first pass. Everyone else successfully gained a score for the weekend. He is how they finished:

1. Forrest Wang – 87
2. Daigo Saito – 85
3. Odi Bakchis – 84
4. Kenneth Moen – 84
5. Fredric Aasbo – 81
6. Michael Essa – 80
7. Dean Kearney – 76
8. Toshiki Yoshioka – 70
9. Jeff Jones – 69
10. Ryan Kado – 66
11. Kuniaki Takahashi – 62
12. Charles Ng – 59
13. Kyle Mohan – 50
14. Robbie Nishida – 0
15. Brandon Wicknick – 0
16. Dennis Mertzanis – 0

 

Top 16 Tandem Pairings
Forrest Wang vs. Dennis Mertzanis
Daigo Saito vs. Brandon Wicknick
Odi Bakchis vs. Robbie Nishida
Kenneth Moen vs. Kyle Mohan
Fredric Aasbo vs. Charles Ng
Micahel Essa vs. Kuniaki Takahashi
Dean Kearney vs. Ryan Kado
Toshiki Yoshioka vs. Jeff Jones

Motegi Wheels $25k Super Drift Challenge [DRIVERS LIST]

MattPowers

This weekend during the Long Beach Grand Prix selected drivers have been entered to participate in the Motegi Super Drift Challenge for a big purse of $25,000 on the line. Qualifying happens Friday night at 7:00pm during the Long Beach Grand Prix and the main event tandem competition takes place Saturday at 7:00pm! Here is the drivers list:

Odi Bakchis
Fredric Aasbo
Ryan Kado
Mike Essa
Robbie Nishida
Dean Kearney
Brandon Wicknick
Forrest Wang
Dennis Mertzanis
Charles Ng
Jeff Jones
Kenneth Moen
Toshiki Yoshioka
Kyle Mohan
Kuniaki Takahashi
Daigo Saito

10 Things I Learned from Formula Drift Round 1 This Weekend

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This weekend marked the start of the 11th season of Formula Drift and my 10th year anniversary covering the sport. To celebrate my tenth season I put together 10 things I learned from the start of the 2014 Formula Drift season.

10. The Fanfare of a “D1GP” Driver Coming to Formula Drift is OverTakahashi

The Japanese drivers movement in Formula Drift just isn’t what it used to be. Kuniaki Takahashi arrived this weekend with little to no fanfare or “buzz” from the respective crowd. The fact that other drives are vanishing, like Toshiki Yoshioka, also shows that sponsors don’t  want to throw money at them either. Take it for good or bad but simply having D1GP credentials isn’t getting you very far in 2014. You have to perform on the track to get noticed.

9. The Canadian Drivers Deserve More RespectMarcLanderville

No one in America seems to respect Canadian drifting very much for some reason. The series’ instability probably doesn’t help but the Canadian contingent in Formula Drift is really holding its own these days. Marc Landerville did fantastic this weekend in his Standard Suspension 240sx and probably would of won ROTY if he ran all 7 rounds in 2013. Dave Briggs just gets better every single year and gave Vaughn Gittin Jr. a run for his money in Top 32 this weekend! Then Mats Baribeau took Michael Essa to battle (that after rewatching the Livestream today I am convinced he really won and the judges overlooked a huge correction/straighten from Michael Essa).

Regardless they took home ROTY in 2013 and clearly have the cars and driving skill to go blow for blow with American drift drivers as they have shown in 2013 and are continuing through 2014. Later this year, Formula Drift even has a demo going on in Montreal.

8. The Mandatory HANS Device was a Brilliant Safety Addition JoonMaeng

Personally, I have witnessed a ton of insane drifting accidents. I laid my eyes on Chris Cook launch his Dodge Viper into the air at NOPI LA, saw Dennis Mertzanis split his 240sx on a uneven stacked k-rail, and watched Chris Jeanerret flip over at Irwindale last season. One thing all of these accidents had in common was the huge movement of the drivers’ heads as the car battled with gravity and physics before coming to a stop.

The image I posted above of Joon Maeng’s 240sx shows it flying into the wall and his head is clear as day, sitting properly in the back of the seat. In fact, you can look at our gallery images of the wreck or our video to see that his head didn’t really move at all. This is a huge safety addition that Formula Drift has implemented before anything awful has happened to a driver in one of these wrecks. 

7. The old ARK Hyundai Genesis is Still Crap. Pat Mordaunt Deserves BetterPatMordaunt

During the preseason this was already a move that had me scratching my head. In case you didn’t realize, this weekend Pat Mordaunt and Dennis Mertzanis campaigned twin identical cars from the outside with different colored seats and vastly different engine packages. The one Pat Mordaunt is campaigning is actually the white Genesis coupe that Dennis drove last year. Last year that car was a pile of crap and suffered a ton of vehicle malfunctions keeping Dennis out of competition.

Pat sitting on the sidelines with a blown engine right out of the gate really shows this car wasn’t actually made much better in the long off-season. Pat deserves much better and I feel the only way they should remedy this situation is throwing away the LAMBDA V6 Hyundai motor and giving him a 1000hp Vortech Supercharged LS7 engine like Dennis Mertzanis (who made into the Top 16). Oh yeah, did I mention the motor that popped this weekend was already the backup motor since the original blew up in testing?

6. If Chelsea DeNofa Could Only Overcome Mechanical Issues….ChelseaDeNofa

Chelsea DeNofa is one of the most exciting tandem drivers on the grid with an out-of-this-world tandem style. His BMW is quite possibly his biggest opponent in the series. He went out in 2013 due to mechanical failures more than defeat by other drivers. This problem seems like it is going to continue in 2014. If Chelsea could ever sort out this car 100%, he could easily finish the season in the Top 5.

5. Alec Hohnadell and Geoff Stoneback Are the Future of this SportAlecHohnadel

I singled out both of these drivers mainly because they qualified for Top 32 on their first try and didn’t look “out of place”. Geoff Stoneback made his first pass ever in the car right at qualifying and still drove the car into the main show. These guys have style and have cool enough heads to perform when it counts, so watch out for these two in the very immediate future. They both led me to believe they can be 2014 Rookie of the Year.

4. Michael Essa Was Not a Fluke ChampionMichaleEssa.2014

The championship last year was won in less than desirable conditions for Michael Essa and his team. With a blown engine he sat on the sideline and hoped that Forsberg couldn’t finish high enough in the points to bump him into second. His real challenge in the off-season was leaving GSR Autosport and running his own program for the 2014 season. Well, he answered the critics’ questions pretty loudly with a top qualifying spot and third place finish.

3. Kenneth Moen Could Contend for the 14 Championship and More Europeans Are ComingKennethMoen

Kenneth Moen finally got out of that beat-to-hell Nissan 350z chassis and dominated the competition in this Nissan 240sx. The way he attacked the Turn 10 wall was just mind boggling. His second qualifying run, after crashing in practice, slotted him with a qualifying run in the 90s! Kenneth Moen is going to contend for a championship in 2014 pending some huge disaster. Quite a few top European drivers were roaming around the paddock this weekend and some of them told me flat out they are working on a way to come compete in Formula Drift.

2. Chris Forsberg is Serious About a Championship and Hyper FocusedChrisForsberg

Chris Forsberg is a changed man in 2014. He has this intense focus I have never seen from him since I first met him in 2005. His car going “to the dark side” just seems like a mirror image of how he is taking on the season. He looked like he was going to win Round 1 on Friday morning and saw it through by facing one of the hardest brackets of the weekend and finishing first. Chris isn’t going to feel redemption for 2013 unless he wins the 2014 championship and that is clearly what he is thinking about 24/7.

1. The New Format Is Brilliant but 3rd Place Battle Elimination was an Over StepFordMustang.Drift

In my 10 years of attending Formula Drift as a fan, reporter, and photographer, this was the best run event I have attended. The judging fixes were spot on and many “first timers” in the audience I spoke with were entertained throughout the weekend. The event ran so smoothly that it ended almost one hour before the city imposed sound curfew. So my only thing is – since the events are running so well and ahead of schedule, can we just go ahead and get the third place battle back please?

First off, I would have loved to see Michael Essa and Justin Pawlak do battle for a spot on the podium. The fact that Michael Essa won his Top 8 battle and secured a place on the podium didn’t sit well with me. He could of parked it (not run his Top 4 battle) and stood up on the podium. So a top qualifier could win three tandem battles and take a podium spot under this new system just seems all too easy for that many championship points.

Apexi finishes Lexus SC430 transformation for Kuniaki Takahashi [SNAPSHOT]

Apexi-SC430

In addition to the new livery, which shows off long time D1Gp team UP Garage as part of the livery, the Apex’i Lexus SC430 now sports a RHD conversion. Frank S., formerly of BOSO Garage, has been busy over the last week prepping the car along with the Apex’i crew. The above livery was posted this morning, and appears to be at Willow Springs raceway. We’ve confirmed that Kuniaki Takahashi will be piloting the car, which has long been the rumor around the pits.  Of course you can also read about the previous setup of the Lexus SC430 in Issue 30 of our magazine.

Kuniaki Takahashi is coming to Formula Drift in 2014 [RUMORMILL]

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Rumors have been flying around about a D1GP driver making his debut to Formula Drift this season. After some leaks this weekend from a new potential sponsor it appears that D1GP driver Kuniaki Takahashi will be driving Pat Mordaunt’s old Lexus SC430.

If you want to know more about the build we actually highlighted it in Issue 30 of Wrecked Magazine that came out this month with a full feature (direct link to feature here). Kuniaki Takahasi was spotted at various Formula Drift events in 2013 making the connection and probability even greater.

D1GP.KuniakiTakahashi

Kuniaki Takahasi ha been a “big body” drifter over the past few years as you can see above with his Toyota Mark X in D1GP. During an episode of Wrecked Weekly recently Patrick Mordaunt even picked him out as a driver he would want to see in the Lexus. Perhaps a genuine comment or some strategic foreshadowing from Pat.

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