This past weekend wraps up Round 3 of the 2013 Formula Drift series with results that were a mixed bag of exciting wins for some and an upsetting loss for others.
This round’s qualifying session was definitely intense. More people scored zeroes during their first runs, forcing them to run a second time to put a score on the board. Matt Powers was one of many who, unfortunately, earned a zero during his first qualifying run. Though he came back and put down a solid score during his second run, he was pushed further down the line in position as other drivers came back for their second runs to qualify. Eventually, he was knocked out by Will Parsons from the Top 32. This would be the first time ever he hasn’t qualified in his Formula Drift career.
Other drivers were also disappointed as they weren’t able to make Top 32 either. Walker Wilkerson has been facing constant car issues this season, making it that much more difficult to qualify each round.
However, there were others such as Mats Baribeau, who was more than satisfied with their qualifying scores. Baribeau threw down an awesome qualifying run, placing him in the 5th position in Top 32.
As the Top 32 drivers were locked into place, the bracket for the battles had a great set of bouts to look forward to. One of the more exciting line ups was Fredric Aasbo vs. Chelsea DeNofa. Both drivers go hard in tandem battles so we knew this one would not only be entertaining but also a challenge for both drivers.
Kyle “The Menace” Mohan was set to go against the #1 qualifier, Justin Pawlak. Though Kyle had been displaying strong and consistent runs throughout the weekend, it wasn’t quite enough to beat the Falken driver during Top 32.
Matt Field was on fire this round as he defeated Dai Yoshihara and nearly took out Daigo Saito from his second place podium.
Local Floridian, Jeremy Lowe, qualified in the 25th position and battled Dave Briggs. This round seemed to be Briggs’ time to shine as he not only defeated Lowe, but moved on to the Great 8 in competition.
As with what seems like every round of Formula Drift, there were some controversial calls that not everyone watching agreed with. One of these moments occurred during the battle between Joon Maeng and Tony Angelo. At one point, Angelo made contact with Maeng in his follow run and part of the judges’ explanation was that Maeng was going too slow. One of the arguments many have made regarding this is that it’s the follower’s responsibility to follow the lead car, which includes speed, so that contact doesn’t occur.
Driver Odi Bakchis, was able to defeat Ryan Tuerck in Top 32 and made it to Top 16 to battle Chris Forsberg. Forsberg is usually a force to be reckoned with and although Odi put up a great fight, Chris took the win.
Vaughn Gittin JR has also been displaying some aggressive driving in these past few rounds of competition. This time, as the battles narrowed down to the Top 4, Vaughn was pitted against Daigo Saito. Towards the end of the course, Gittin appeared to straighten and powered through, causing him to run straight into the door of Saito, which ultimately caused him to spin. Gittin continued and seemed to understeer, almost hitting the wall but was able to stop the car just in time. It’s obvious that Vaughn wants this championship and he’s fighting hard to get it but it seems it may be a little too much.
Although the podium this round saw the familiar face of Daigo Saito, it also welcomed fellow Achilles Radial teammate Robbie Nishida in third, and Mike Essa in first with not only his first competition win but his first podium at a Formula Drift event.
Essa has always been a solid driver but this year he’s really stepped it up to make sure that’s known. Not only was he a contender in the Motegi Super Drift Competition back in April, almost taking out Powers for the first place finish, he also barely missed out on a podium finish at Round 2 at Road Atlanta finishing in 4th place. With his performance so far this year, he currently sits third overall in the points series for the championship.
Next up is Formula Drift New Jersey. Who do you think we’ll see on the podium this time?