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:
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
Chelsea DeNofa has had quite a history with the Wall Speedway course including one insane crash that totaled his E36 BMW chassis last year in a battle with Tyler McQuarrie (video of ours is here). Apparently in practice just a few minutes ago he smashed into Vaughn Gittin Jr. and had to be towed off the track. His whole drivers side suspension is missing and our on site photographer Dan Jenkins should have more detailed pics of the damage done to DeNofa’s car but it was described to us as a “hard hit.” Chelsea shouldn’t have an issue being back on the track in the AM for Friday morning practice.
The main event at Summit Point was a wild one with ride-a-longs between rounds with Formula Drift pros Chris Forsberg and Vaughn Gittin Jr. Check out how the event wound up from the grid, cars flipping, to the main event tandem battles of the Hyperfest weekend all in my gallery.
A great video produced from Road Atlanta showing off the Nitto Tires team car builds from Vaughn Gittin Jr., Chelsea DeNofa, and Matt Powers. Get a look at their three very different builds and chassis that come together and compete in the same sport. Check out what goes into these Formula Drift builds courtesy of Nitto.
This post is going to take a while to break down so let’s start with a huge breath of fresh air and some simple instructions. The cones on the outside of the track behind the paint in the first turn were explained in the drivers meeting to earn you a big fat zero.
The judges followed this rule so hard and fast over the weekend that Chris Forsberg drifted past a cone and then through magic, fishing lure wire, or exhaust the cone just tipped over in its place giving him a “0″ and allowing Michael Essa to advance on in the event. In fact, this Vaughn vs. Conrad battle happened right before the Michael Essa vs. Chris Forsberg run.
Then the judges made a similar stern call in the Matt Field vs. Daigo Saito battle once Matt Field hit a cone and then Daigo flew off course right after. They put it at the fault of Matt Field for going off course and leading Daigo Saito to the same destiny.
In the “Correct Angle Fan View” video you can see it was shot from an oncoming angle, that we can guess is a fan shot video, in which you can clearly see Vaughn Gittin Jr. goes off course and hits a cone in the exact same fashion as Matt Field. However, all the judges and commentators did was issue Conrad Gruenwald a 0 for going off course with no deduction to Vaughn Gittin Jr. giving him a definitive advantage he never deserved.
Correct Angle Fan View
It is hard to say how the outcome of the second run would of been with the knowledge of Conrad and Vaughn being at a level score or playing field but how such an oversight occurred is rather annoying and disappointing. Why didn’t we have a camera set to focus down the row of cones like this fan view for the weekend since these cones were such a definite marker?
This automatic zero cone business just seemed like an excuse to eliminate making hard judging calls or use common sense to figure out what is happening on the course. The real crime, is having cones at all in such a precise area of a professional series. Can we bring in krail already? That is what everyone I would imagine wants to see making a clear definition of that turn.
You would be driving at that k-rail at a lower speed than the old Vegas Speedway course, Irwindale, and Evergreen Speedway and then allow a clear and definitive off course to be made. Volunteer course workers are tasked with putting down these cones and while I want to commend them for hustling and working hard the cones are not going to be put precisely in the same place run per run.
This tends to make things problematic when the differnce of a perfect run and a zero are literally millimeters (unless you are Chris Forsberg your exhaust will just knock the cone over after your perfect run scoring a 0.) I know everyone is going to come into this post and claim a Ford conspiracy and others will claim I am an idiot for spending time to point this out. What will make me super happy in 2014 is to see k-rail around that turn or just leaving that South Florida swampland all together.
What do you think about this call and tandel battle from Palm Beach?
Clarification Added at 11:11pm PST After Speaking with Ryan Sage on Phone:
1. I didn’t mean to say that this tandem battle was the same or similar to the Matt Field and Daigo Saito was the same situation as this one or the same as Forsberg vs. Essa. I just mentioned these runs as references to show that cones were a definitive zero.
2. I have been told by many people that the judges didn’t dock Vaughn Gittin Jr. on his first run but Vaughn and Ryan Sage have told me he did receive a zero. The clear cut issue here is that Conrad Grunewald has communicated with me he didn’t know Vaughn got a 0 so I dont’ think or feel anyone else can really be expected to know that happened. I think that really gave Vaughn a psychological advantage and highlights a big communication problem of information to the teams. Weather the points were docked it clearly took a toll mentally on Conrad for run two in my eyes.
3. As I mentioned on my phone call with Ryan Sage I feel moving to a k-rail model would make this issue far more definitive over the course of the weekend. All the conflicts and problems occurred in one corner that drivers went over aggressive and wild into because it lacked serious negative consequences which then have broiled into a huge topic of discussion this week.
Here is the contact from a Vaughn Gittin Jr. POV between Daigo Saito and him during Formula Drift Palm Beach. It is really insane to just see the smoke that Lexus SC430 puts out when you are trying to follow behind him. Formula Drift has moved into the contact sport category in 2013 with all of these insane tandem battles during into maximum destruction. What do you think of this battle after viewing this POV view?
A trailer from Monster Energy Drink that doesn’t quite show very much but talks about Fire Drift which is a post-apocalyptic endeavor with his 2014 Ford Mustang RTR. Perhaps this is the world that exists once Vaughn has crashed into and totaled every on drift car in the world and he is the sole one that remains? I kid, but the full video drops June 11th so stay tuned.
One intense Formula Drift main event went way into the night as Michael Essa took home his first every career victory. Once Top 32 came about the event turned into more of a demolition derby than a drift event. Kenneth Moen, Danny George, Tony Angelo, Vaughn Gittin Jr., and Chris Forsberg were just a few who banged wheels and doors on Saturday getting to the finals. This was a full six cylinder podium with drivers all running Garrett turbos. Enjoy all the door banging action!