Dave Briggs released a video from his Long Beach weekend showing his 800hp SR20 rip around the Streets of Long Beach. Remember #9, this applies to Dave Briggs as well!
Dave Briggs released a video from his Long Beach weekend showing his 800hp SR20 rip around the Streets of Long Beach. Remember #9, this applies to Dave Briggs as well!
Drift Idiot/Hooniverse did an interesting editorial video based on rivalries in Formula Drift. You can watch the video below but I wanted to focus on the statistics of these two rivalries. One has been a long time coming and one was formed by a battle for the championship last year. So who are the better drivers by the numbers?
Many people have pointed out to me that the first battle of the Top 16 was poorly judged. I have now watched it over 25 times from Livestream and reviewed my notes. Everyone seems to take issue with Michael Essa’s follow run, which I do agree was piss poor. You cannot see but he straightens out big time coming out of turn 10 following Mats. One issue I blame on the Livestream for not having cameras on the inside of the track for viewing/critique.
Michael Essa qualified first this weekend – backing up his top qualifying spot at Irwindale Speedway last year. This makes two events in a row with a top qualifying spot for his E46 BMW. His first battle of the weekend was against Jeremy Richter who zeroed out on his follow run and then called a competition timeout. He was unable to return to the event and gave Michael Essa a pass to the Top 16.
Pat Mordaunt blew his second engine of the week in the final practice session and gave Mats Baribeau and easy pass into the Top 16. His Hyundai Genesis (with red seats – not to be confused with Dennis Mertzanis’ Genesis that has black seats) retained the V6 Lambda motor which has continued to be a problem setup for the ARK team.
Chelsea DeNofa was seemingly on his way to a victory over Dennis Mertzanis when his car shut off right by the horseshoe exit. Sources tell me he broke an axle and the mechanical gremlins continue to fall apart with the build. Dennis was given an easy pass to the Top 16 in his 1000hp Hyundai.
These guys were the first Top 32 battle to actually make two successful passes on the weekend. In the lead run Carl made a huge error resulting in a zero from the judges or a huge deduction. Forrest Wang on his follow run just sat back a little took it easy, which got him into the Top 16. All three judges favored Forrest Wang to move on.
Geoff Stoneback was the highlighted rookie of this weekend. After overcoming transport issues and clutch issues he managed to drive his way into the Top 32. He was sent packing by Kenneth Moen after two battles, but proved as a rookie he can overcome the diversity of the sport. Kenneth also looked unbeatable through most of the weekend.
The highlight of this tandem battle was the big wreck on Kyle Mohan’s follow run. These guys actually put on the best show of the weekend until Kyle planted his car into the wall, shattering his wheel. Robbie actually spins in a separate incident (off camera to LiveStream viewers) resulting in both drivers getting a 0 on the second run. The judges, after reviewing the first tandem battle where Kyle Mohan led gave, him the victory.
Kyle and his team borrowed some taillights from a car in their paddock and got to work on replacements. Speaking with Kyle after the round, the team managed to get the car back on the road with a new wheel, brake lines, other small items, and one serious alignment. He does get the car back on track for the Top 16 introductions which is quite impressive!
Marc Landerville and Fredric Aasbo was another actually solid battle. Marc maybe even had a slight advantage after the first run groupings but really messed up his exit on turn 10 and went way shallow. That was the nail in his coffin and allowing Fredric to advance into the 16. All three judges picked Fredric to advance into 16.
Jhonnattan Castro looked impressive in his CFR built Nissan 370z this weekend, but ran a little too conservative to defeat Conrad Grunewald in the Camaro. Castro looked far improved from any performance he had given in the past. Conrad really outshined him on the chase run letting Conrad move into the 16.
Dave Briggs was on fire with his performance over the weekend. In fact, he was putting out WAY more smoke than Vaughn Gittin Jr. throughout these battles. He drove Vaughn to a OMT after the first set of runs. Dave Briggs had an insane lead run and Vaughn Gittin Jr. made contact with the wall throwing him off line through turn 10. After the contact Dave has a huge correction, forcing the judges into a OMT. All three judges called for the first OMT battle.
During the OMT battle, Dave fell a little behind on the follow run probably leaving him at a slight disadvantage as Vaughn went wall to wall without hesitation. Briggs’ lead run was awesome but he couldn’t make up the big amount of space he left when chasing Vaughn. All three judges favored Vaughn to advance!
The Irish battle took place with Dean Kearney facing Darren McNamara. Dean looked insane with the Dodge Viper when he could complete the course. He was bringing out one aggressive snap entry into 10 and flying through the course. After watching both runs again and again after the event, I think the judges could of taken this either way. The judges really should of sent this battle to a OMT in my opinion, but they ended up calling it all three for Darren McNamara.
Neither of these drivers were excited about this Top 32 draw. Dai Yoshihara in a new twin turbo V8 Subaru BRZ surely wanted an easier tandem partner for his first competition round in the new car. Chris Forsberg showed little remorse with two insanely solid runs dispatching Dai in the Subaru BRZ. All three judges favored with Chris Forsberg to move into the 16.
Pat Goodin and Daigo Saito was one for the ages! Pat Goodin actually out qualified Daigo Saito so he was given the ability to lead first. Daigo was glued to Pat Goodin and didn’t give him enough space to transition heading into the horseshoe. Daigo smashed into his rear quarter panel leaving his bumper behind.
Sadly for Daigo Saito he already used his competition timeout in qualifying so he was unable to fix his car. Daigo attempted to bring the car out back to the start line but clearly had a serious front suspension issue and had to let Pat Goodin advance into the Top 16.
Tyler McQuarrie and Tony Angelo was a tame contest. Tyler was just clearly faster around the course and easily dispatched Tony Angelo who experienced various driveline issues throughout the week.
Ken Gushi and Odi Bakchis was one of my favorite battles of the Top 32. Odi Bakchis had an insane chase really showing he has progressed a ton in the off-season. In the photo above, Odi Bakchis is so close you cannot even see his car buried by Ken Gushi’s Scion FR-S. All three judges easily went with Odi Bakchis to move into the 16.
Justin Pawlak stole the playbook from old Falken Tire teammate Haraguchi and used a feint entry into Turn 9. Why the judges or anyone said this was okay is beyond me! He continued this entry to gap drivers on his lead and then dove in normally on his follow run. It was kind of a lame strategy but the judges allowed this to take place.
Justin then parked it (hence the photo) on his second run and didn’t take off. He claimed Jeff Jones jumped the light and he couldn’t catch up. Jeff Jones ran the whole course in quite an impressive fashion but managed to break an axle before he returned. Jeff Jones called a competition time out but couldn’t fix his car, so JTP was allowed to advance into the 16. It was quite a strategic play overall from his perspective , but really sold the fans short of a good battle.
Alec Hohnadell was the one of the three rookies to qualify into the Top 32. In his follow, run he really held his own following Ryan Tuerck with only a minor steering correction as his only deduction. In the end, Ryan Tuerck dismissed the rookie but he really performed well. I feel like with an easier draw in the 32, Alec could have advanced into the Top 16.
This wraps up the Top 32 round guys and we will have a Top 16 to podium summary also coming out very soon!
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 Over
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 Respect
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
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 Better
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….
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 Sport
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 Champion
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 Coming
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 Focused
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 Step
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.
Check out the first set of images from our Round 1 main event at Long Beach shot by Justin Kaehler. He captured a ton of the excitement going on to kick off the 11th season of Formula Drift on track and in the paddock. Check out all of his images!
Check out the Gallery: http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=386
Formula Drift Long Beach kicks off this weekend. Check out the rest of the gallery:
Here are the Top 32 brackets and we grouped together the potential Top 16 pairings as well. Sit back and get ready for an insane Round 1 of Formula Drift with the new season officially underway. Here is how they are set:
1 Michael Essa vs. 32 Jeremy Richter
16 Patrick Mordaunt vs. 17 Mats Baribeau
8 Chelsea DeNofa vs. 25 Dennis Mertzanis
9 Forrest Wang vs. 24 Carl Rydquist
4 Kenneth Moen vs. 29 Geoff Stoneback
13 Kyle Mohan vs. 20 Robbie Nishida
5 Fredric Aasbo vs. 28 Marc Landerville
12 Conrad Grunewald vs. 21 Jhonnathan Castro
2 Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. 30 Dave Briggs
15 Darren McNamara vs. 18 Dean Kearney
7 Chris Forsberg vs. 25 Daijiro Yoshihara
10 Pat Goodin vs. 23 Daigo Saito
3 Tyler McQuarrie vs. 30 Tony Angelo
14 Odi Bakchis vs. 19 Ken Gushi
6 Justin Pawlak vs. 27 Jeff Jones
12 Ryan Tuerck vs. 22 Alec Hohnadell
1. Michael Essa
2. Vaughn Gittin
3. Tyler McQuarrie
4. Kenneth Moen
5. Fredric Aasbo
6. Justin Pawlak
8. Chelesa Denofa
9. Forrest Wang
10. Pat Goodin
11. Ryan Tuerck
12. Conrad Gruenwald
13. Kyle Mohna
14. Odi Bakchis
15. Darren McNamara
16. Pat Mordaunt
17. Mats Baribeau
18. Dean Kearney
19. Ken Gushi
20. Robbie Nishida
21. Jhonnattan Castro
22. Alec Hohnadell
23. Daigo Saito
24. Carl Rydquist
25. Dennis Mertzanis
26. Dai Yoshihara
27. Jeff Jones
28. Marc Landreville
29. Geoff Stoneback
30. Tony Angelo
31. Dave Briggs
32. Jeremy Richter