The comeback of the year was given to Michael Essa. He also took home a championship and team manager of the year for the 2013 Formula Drift awards banquet. Not a bad weekend for his team at all.
Here is some seriously extensive coverage from Justin Kaehler over the course of main event Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. From tandem battles to the very moment Michael Essa learned of his championship. Enjoy this extensive gallery from Justin who captured all the great moments during the most controversial championship in the last 10 years.
Check out the Gallery: http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=371
Here are the final 2013 points standings, baring any technical violations or other points deductions which may have happened without our knowledge.
1. Michael Essa 555.5 points
2. Chris Forsberg 538 points
3. Daigo Saito 510.5 points
4. Fredric Aasbo 487 points
5. Vaughn Gittin Jr 481 points
6. Justin Pawlak 425 points
7. Matt Field 407 points
8. Darren McNamara 388.5 points
9. Robbie Nishida 387.25 points
10. Odi Bakchis 378 points
11. Dai Yoshihara 333.5 points
12. Conrad Grunewald 309.5 points
13. Chelsea Denofa 291 points
13. Ryan Tuerck 291 points
15. Tyler McQuarrie 290.5 points
16. Matt Powers 282 points
17. Forrest Wang 276.5 points
18. Kenny Moen 258.75 points
19. Ryan Kado 239.75 points
20. Danny George 231.5 points
With Daigo Saito beating Chris Forsberg in the Great 8 we now have an official 2013 championship by privateer Michael Essa. Congrats to him and his working team that put together a E46 BMW with Yokohama, Bilstein, and WiseFab to make a championship out of a local Orange County shop. It wasn’t an easy battle with protests in Palm Beach and his victory over Chris Forsberg with a cone that seemed to fall out of thin air and people speculating a team orders type situation for Top 32 at Irwindale Speedway. We will have more on all these stories and the break down of his insane championship run later this month! Congrats again to GSR and Michael Essa!
We are told Chris Forsberg has filed a protest using rule 6.7 – Competition Time Out with speculation that Luke Pakula threw the event to allow Michael Essa to move into the Top 16. Luke was staged on the line for over 2 minutes+ while Essa dealt with his blown motor. Luke then did donuts and pulled off the course claiming a broken transmission (after he drove off course and did donuts). He drove back to the pits and refused to run just moments after driving across the line in video and doing donuts. Chris and team have filed a protest claiming “strategy” which is clearly illegal within the rule posted below.
6.7 COMPETITION TIME OUT
To maintain safety in the competition, during tandem competition runs only, teams may call for a Competition Timeout to make any necessary repairs. Competition Timeout’s are not allowed for Practice or Qualifying. Competition Timeout’s are not to be used for strategic purposes. Only the designated team representative will be allowed to request the Competition Timeout, and it must be made through a FORMULA DRIFT OFFICIAL. Only the COMPETITION MANAGER may grant a Competition Timeout. Team will not be granted a Competition Timeout if it is believed to be unwarranted. Competition Timeout’s are allowed for a maximum of five (5) minutes and are to be administered by the COMPETITION MANAGER.
Competitors who fail to make the necessary repairs the allotted time limits will be disqualified from the competition and forfeit to the opposing driver.
Teams may only use one (1) Competition Timeout throughout the competition. Additional and concurrent Competition Timeout requests are not allowed unless cited in other sections of these rules.
Competition Timeout repairs must be completed either trackside or in the pre-grid
After the first 6 qualifying passes were made at Irwindale, it was clear that this would come down to a three-horse race to the championship. Essa outscored the other five championship contenders, guaranteeing he would extend his lead going into Saturday’s competition, but the exact amount of his points lead would depend on how other drivers would score. Vaughn Gittin Jr would finish in Q2 after the first (and only) qualifying pass, giving him the best chance to remain in contention for the championship, but unfortunately, it’s not enough.
With all drivers earning at least 24 points in tandem for a top 32 finish, only 76 points remain in play. Adding in the points from qualifying, here is how the standings add up:
|1. Mike Essa||501.5 Points|
|2. Chris Forsberg||477 Points||– 24.5|
|3. Fredric Aasbo||426.5 Points||– 75|
|4. Vaughn Gittin Jr||420 Points||– 81.5|
|5. Daigo Saito||410.5 Points||– 91|
|6. Justin Pawlak||401 Points||– 100.5|
With only 76 points possible, Gittin Jr, Saito, and Pawlak are now eliminated from championship contention. Should Essa win his tandem battle (the first one of the top-32 tandems which start at 4:30pm PST tomorrow), Aasbo will be statistically eliminated before he even gets a chance to drive in his tandem competition. If Essa does lose that tandem battle, Aasbo will need Forsberg to lose his Top 32 matchup and go on to win the event. A second place finish from Aasbo or a top-16 appearance from Forsberg will statistically eliminate Aasbo.
From there, the 24.5 point difference between Forsberg and Essa is fairly substantial. Should Essa lose in top 32, Forsberg will take the championship with a top-32 round win, regardless of how Aasbo finishes. If Essa finishes in the top-16, Forsberg needs to finish on the podium to take the title. With the brackets setup as they are, Essa and Forsberg could potentially meet in the top 8 to setup an amazing battle for the championship. Should Essa win that battle, he will guarantee himself the 2013 Formula D Championship. However, if he were to lose, he would still have a shot at the championship if Forsberg does NOT finish in first or second. A third place finish from Forsberg would net him 78 points, while a top-8 loss from Essa would net him 61 points, a difference of 17 points which is not enough to overcome the current gap.
SUMMARY: Essa loses in Top 32 and Forsberg wins in top 32, Forsberg wins championship.
Essa loses in Top 16 and Forsberg finishes on the podium, Forsberg wins championship.
Essa loses to Forsberg in Top 8 and Forsberg finishes in 1st or 2nd, Forsberg wins championship.
Essa loses in top 32, Forsberg loses in top 32, Aasbo wins the event, Aasbo wins championship.
In all other scenarios, Essa wins championship.
Michael Essa is in the hot seat this weekend as he tries to defend his championship position against five others at Irwindale. Alongside Essa, Clutchmasters has six other drivers competing this weekend – Odi Bakchis, Chelsea Denofa, Kenneth Moen, Patrick Mordaunt, Mats Baribeau, and Enrique Mendoza. As a gift to their supporters and an added incentive for their fans to be the loudest cheerleaders in the grandstands, Clutchmaster’s will be handing out FREE Thunder Sticks to anyone who visits their booth at Irwindale this weekend. If you’re going to be at Irwindale Friday or Saturday, make sure to stop by their booth and pick up a pair.
Our final post in our series will cover the current leader in the championship chase, Mike Essa. Coming into 2013, Essa had a lot of unknowns in his toolbox. Sitting on Yokohama tires for the first time, his E46 chassis was freshly-built, and no BMW had ever taken a podium. For Essa, his first Podium would have been considered a success, and an event win would have been even better. But now that he’s the leader in the clubhouse for the championship with two event wins and a third podium finish, Essa is simply ecstatic.
|1. Mike Essa||489.5 Points|
|2. Chris Forsberg||474 Points|
|3. Fredric Aasbo||425.5 Points|
|4. Vaughn Gittin Jr||410 Points|
|5. Daigo Saito||409.5 Points|
|6. Justin Pawlak||400.5 Points|
Essa’s plan is simple: don’t screw up. While this may sound simple, in 2012, the leader going into the final event did NOT win the championship due to an early elimination, and in 2011, the leader entering Irwindale was knocked out early in top 16 and had to cheer for another drivers to screw up in top 8 before securing the championship. With a 15 point lead, finishing in the same around as Chris Forsberg or finishing just 1 step below Forsberg will earn the championship from Essa. As we outlined yesterday, qualifying will be very important, and both drivers have out-qualified each other an equal number of times, which will make the first two runs of Friday’s qualifying session two of the most important qualifying runs of the entire season.
Essa’s Irwindale results haven’t been the greatest historically, missing the top 32 cut in 2010, hitting only top 32 last year, and only top 16 in 2009 and 2011. However, Essa has proven that this year and his current E46 BMW chassis is far superior than the previous E92 or Z4 chassis, and previous results should be expected to be exceeded. Should Essa confirm the championship this season, he would become the first driver to earn the championship after earning his license in the Formula D ProAm system as all previous Formula D drivers have earned their license either by competing in Formula D since the beginning (Millen, Hubinette, Forsberg, Yoshihara, Gittin Jr) when licensing wasn’t an option or via their previous driving (Foust) or International (Saito) resume. This would be a huge accomplishment that would give up-and-coming drivers a sense of achievability towards the FD championship that may not be there today.
Here are the people who have paid and registered to drift next weekend at the House of Drift. The real strong title contenders are Mike Essa and Chris Forsberg and unless they drop the ball big time one of them is taking home a championship. If they both fail to advance a win could be taken by another driver to advance and win a championship as well. All eyes on Irwindale next weekend! Here is who is driving:
1 Essa, Mike 101
2 Forsberg, Chris 64
3 Aasbo, Fredric 151
4 Gittin, Vaughn Jr. 25
5 Saito, Daigo 1
6 Pawlak, Justin 13
7 Field, Matt 777
8 McNamara, Darren 8
9 Bakchis, Odi 723
10 Nishida, Robbie 31
11 Yoshihara, Daijiro 9
12 Grunewald, Conrad 79
13 Denofa, Chelsea 88
14 Moen, Kenneth 22
15 Powers, Matt 665
16 Tuerck, Ryan 62
17 George, Danny 7
18 McQuarrie, Tyler 17
19 Wang, Forrest 808
20 Kado, Ryan 614
21 Mordaunt, Patrick 90
22 Gushi, Ken 21
23 Yoshioka, Toshiki 104
24 Maeng, Joon 51
25 Aono, Taka 86
26 Ovcharik, Miroslav 235
27 Goodin, Patrick 46
28 Mohan, Kyle 99
29 Jones, Jeff 29
30 Angelo, Tony 96
31 Briggs, Dave 24
32 Baribeau, Mats* 30
33 Mertzanis, Dennis 323
34 Castro, Jhonnattan 717
35 Ward, Chris 23
36 Kearney, Dean 43
38 Wicknick, Brandon* 801
39 Parsons, Will* 48
40 Hamilton, Nate* 144
41 Hosford, Corey 232
42 Rydquist, Carl 300
44 Jeanneret, Chris* 111
45 Primozich, Rob* 3
46 Stone, Gabe 15
47 Mendoza Jr., Enrique 16
48 Wilkerson, Walker 95
49 Steele, Josh* 72
50 Moore, Victor 360
52 Hildebrand, J.R. 6
53 Pakula, Luke* 714
55 Lee, Alex 81
57 Osaki, Karl* 14
61 Cano Estrella, Carlos 10