I want to start of by saying thanks to Formula Drift for giving us the opportunity to cover the season opener in Long Beach and TItle Fight this year in Irwindale. It’s always exciting to be close to the action and hearing the drivers blip their throttle to maintain or keep the proximity close. 2013 was also the first year there was a tire and manufacturer standings.
Leading up to the final round of Formula Drift, Michael Essa was ahead in points by 15.50 points. Essa has laid down consistent runs utilizing every bit of the track and hitting the clipping cones on point. Impressing judges time and time again, Essa gained an extra 12 points by posting an insane run and scored 96.6 to qualify first at Irwindale. 2012 champion Daigo Saito sat in an uncomfortable 5th place 80 points back.
In top 32, Michael was up against 32 qualifier, Luke Pakula. During the lead run, Essa’s motor took a turn for the worse and called 5 minutes. But at the same time, Pakula had also called 5 mins with mechanical issues. The controversy lies with who called it quits first? Essa or Pakula? Who cares right? Second place Forsberg does. If Essa advances, it would push Forsberg further back in the points race. After much delay, Essa advances to the top 16.
Second place Forsberg came out strong and put the heat on Dai Yoshihara. Forsberg would then continue to top 16.
Third place points leader Fedrick Aasbo would battle Conrad Grunewald in top 32.
Other top 32 battles included,
Patrick Mordaunt and Dean Kearny in his Oracal Viper
Crowd favorite Ken Gushi was up against Chelsea DeNofa. Gushi would advance to top 16
Dstroyr sponsored Rookie, Mats Baribeau putting up a nice battle with Ryan Kado
During intermission, I was able to run into a few people. Our friends at Nissan Raceshop, Spocom, HPI Racing, Dstroyer, and Rehv Clothing.
I spotted Marissa Hiroko…
and Brittani Paige.
After intermission, top 16 took place in the dark. Celebrating Formula Drift’s 10 year anniversary called for a explosive opening ceremonies.
During the National Anthem, 3 skydivers jumped from a copter and glided gracefully to land.
Shortly after the top 16 drivers introductions, fireworks lit the sky! Sad on my portion in trying to capture it, but I did capture a few umbrella girls
Randyl Dawn from Falken
Arley Elizabeth with Achilles Radial
and unknown from Monster / Nitto of Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s stable
Top 16 was quickly on its way.
Forsberg would edge out Bakchis and advance to top 8
Vaughn Gittin Jr. verse Ryan Kado
The battle of the S14’s was Wang and Fields – Wang advances to the top 8
Aasbo and Tuerck, after a couple hard fought battles, Aasbo in his Scion Racing / Hankook Tire tC advances. Aasbo was recently voted Fan Favorite of 2013
A close watch was with the battle of Chris Forsberg and Daigo Saito. If Forsberg was to lose this match, Essa would become 2013 Formula Drift Champion.
All eyes were on Essa as he waits for the judges to render their decision. Essa is crowned FD 2103 Champion.
Rookie Forrest Wang had an impressive round, advancing on to top 4 knocking out Gittin.
The Aasbo and Grunewald was also a close one.
Top 4 was an interesting match up. 3 of 4 drivers were on Achilles Radials while McQuarrie was on Hankook.
First tandom to stage was Daigo Saito and team mate Robbie Nishida. Daigo advances and would face the winner of Forrest Wang and Tyler McQuarrie. Robbie would face the loser.
I’ve observed Wang as he would launch hard off the light, usually leading the lead car and fall back to a comfortable spot. He did that time and time again, but the 2JZ powered S14 sounded so fresh.
McQuarrie as a lead car
Forrest take the lead. Tyler would eventually move on to tandom againast Daigo Saito
Forrest battles with Nishida. In a one-more-time battle, Nishida would hit the wall and ultimately finishing fourth thus putting Forrest on the podium for the first time in his pro debut.
Here is your top 3.
Tyler and Daigo heating things up.
During Daigo’s lead run, Tyler would hit the wall putting Daigo in the first spot on the podium.
Daigo accepting his 1st, Tyler 2nd, and rookie Forrest in 3rd.
I was surprised on how well the umbrella girls were composed while spray of champaign was flying around, until Tyler doused his girl. Forrest had trouble popping bottles so his girl stayed relatively dry. Ha.
It’s always exciting when championships are determined at the last round and FD brought that. What a great way to end 10 years of American Drifting. We wish FD future successes and hope to cover them for you.
Until next time… DaYUUMDen