The Evergreen Drift season kicked off this weekend in Washington with Round 1 of the Formula Drift Pro Am series. Here is how the podium finished up:
1. Cameron Moore
2. Aaron Day
3. Brian Lockbaum
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.
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
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:
Brian Casse throws a tribute together of Clubloose footage as they celebrate 10 years of drifting. Clubloose fostered by Matt Petty is one of the best drifting communities in the world with some of the most fun drifting to boot. Claiming home at Englishtown they have ventured into some other northwest markets for the 2014 season. Two Formula Drift champions Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Chris Forsberg cut their teeth in Clubloose back in the day.
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!
Here is a complete 800+ image gallery covering everything that happened in the main event of Formula Drift Round 1! The snaps taken by David Moore cover everything from morning practice to the big celebration on the podium.
Check out the Gallery: http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=387
The crash from Kyle Mohan wasn’t easy to capture since he was following behind Robbie Nishida putting out big smoke from his Achilles Radial tire. Regardless, you can clearly see Kyle make big contact with the wall and his wheel spokes shatter with contact at the wall. The wheel ring stayed in tact and the GT Radial SX2 tire didn’t even come dismounted from it!
The Top Drift Pro Am 2014 season kicked off this past weekend, March 30, on the balcony of Willow Springs in Rosamond, California. The morning of the main event was cloudy outside with icy winds. Many of us were expecting some rain, but it just didn’t happen. The clouds moved out pretty quickly, while the drivers set off for practice in the first three hours of the day.
After lunch, qualifying began, with somewhere around 60 drivers competing for the top podium. After a few hours of qualifying (there were a lot of drivers), the Top 16 was set.
The first battle starred Alex Heilbrunn and Darin Burgess. Alex took the win in his forrest green s13 coupe.
Eric Martinez went up against Mike Bolanos in the second battle. Martinez managed to take victory over Bolanos’ red s13.
Donovan Brockway faced off with Adam Knapik in the third battle. They stuck fairly close to each other, but Brockway managed to walk away with the win.
In the fourth battle, Daniel Giraldo faced Tyler Page-Howell. Giraldo kept a small gap on his lead run, and stuck close on the follow. He had a great line through both runs and won the match.
Battle five featured Spike Chen, who has been on the podium twice up to this point in the 2014 season, versus Kyle Lumm, the Socal Sidewayz 350Z driver from San Diego. Kyle dirt dropped on the second run, and Spike Chen moved on to the Great 8.
Jason Kim and Cody Sarem battled it out on the tarmac in the sixth face-off. Jason Kim took the win over Cody Sarem, who spun first on the entry during the lead run, and then going into turn 2 on the follow run, spun again.
Dan Burkett faces Drew Ostrowski in the seventh round. On the first run, Ostrowski hit the cones upon entry in his Lexus SC300. Burkett took the win in his FC RX7.
The final battle of the Top 16 came down to Adam Levi and Joe Tardiff. This battle was especially tough to decide a victor. After two “One More Time’s”, Adam Levi took victory over the black sc300. Tardiff spun right at the entry behind the green building.
The tournament moved right into the Great 8 from there. First up was Alex Heilbrunn versus Eric Martinez. They had a good run, but Heilbrunn took the win, and ended the competition for the SC300.
Next up was Daniel Giraldo in his white AE86 versus Donovan Brockway. Daniel pulled away with the better flow and took the win over Brockway’s E30.
Spike Chen went up against Jason Kim in the third Great 8 battle. Both had solid runs, but it seems like Spike Chen was just a little cleaner with way more power and took the win.
Dan Burkett and Adam Levi had the final bout of the Great 8. The two stuck together and were unbelievably close during both runs, but Dan Burkett managed to gain victory over Levi.
The final 4 began. First off were Spike Chen and Dan Burkett. Dan spun into the dirt in the second turn and Chen took the win, assuring him his third podium finish of the season.
Alex Heilbrunn went up against Daniel Giraldo, but both cars experienced difficulty and they both took a 5 minute break. It was a race to see who could finish their car. Miraculously both cars were good enough to race within the 5 minutes. Heilbrunn had lost 3rd gear and Daniel Giraldo broke his shifter lever. Alex Heilbrunn took the win against the Hachi Roku.
Next up, Daniel Giraldo and Dan Burkett duked it out for 3rd place. Giraldo took the win for that, which left us with the undecided factor of the 1st place finisher.
Alex Heilbrunn and Spike Chen, two extremely aggressive drivers, lined up for the winner’s race. It was a heated run, with both drivers choosing aggressive lines; they did an amazing job at staying glued to each other’s doors. When the time for podium came, it was decided that the winner is Alex Heilbrunn! Spike Chen came in second, and Danny Giraldo in third place.
It was amazing to see all of the drivers efforts in the top 16 and qualifying. There was so much smoke being made (mostly by Heilbrunn and Chen), and it was a hot, long weekend. The battles got really aggressive, and it is quite impressive for Alex Heilbrunn to take the win with a missing 3rd gear, as well as for Daniel Giraldo to come back after flux welding his shifter to take 3rd place. I was blown away by the hard work and dedication of the drivers and I can’t wait to see what Round 2 will bring us!
Check out the Gallery: http://www.wreckedmagazine.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=382&page=1