So, another season of the British Drift Championship has come around, but this time with a difference! A lot of new ideas, drivers, and even a new live stream system, are the makings up of one of the most interesting seasons yet! A new ranking system for drivers that is effectively following the American format, that of which a lot of you readers are used to! This comes in the style of Pro drivers, and Pro – Am drivers, instead of the semi pro, pro and super pro class that has been used for many years previously. Drivers then earn their rank into Pro – Am by competing in a lower championship named ‘Drift Cup’ and progressing up through that. With all these changes, I decided to break away from the normal event coverage I usually do, and have decided to venture down a new path myself, but more with that later!
Justdrift kicked off their new series, Topdrift Limited, this last weekend! Drew and I were out at Willow Springs Raceway on Sunday to cover the event, which offered a great outlet for drivers who want to drift, but have minimally modified vehicles. To find out more about Topdrift Limited, head on over to this link!
A new year brings a new name to last year’s Tennessee State of Drift Championship, dropping the state name to simply become the State of Drift Championship series. Not one of last year’s top six finishers were competing in the first round, setting the stage for an all new slew of drivers fighting it out for the 2015 title. More after the jump!
After coming so close to his first championship last year, Fredric Aasbo has returned as a man on a mission. While it may not have been an easy victory for him and his crew, he proved that the little-tC-that-could can still compete with the big bad V8s with a nearly perfect weekend.
The tC looks absolutely stunning this year, with the super aggressive Rocket Bunny kit and signature black-and-yellow Rockstar livery.
Those sticky Hankook RS3s help to not only make this car one of the fastest on the grid, but also lay down tons of smoke. Surprisingly, it seems as though there was less smoke from a lot of the cars when compared to the last couple of years…Did anyone else notice this or are we crazy?
Obviously Aasbo didn’t get the memo about putting out less smoke.
When talking about tire smoke and style, there’s one name that always comes to mind; Forrest Wang and his new Get Nuts Lab Silvia S15.
The car looks gorgeous, and Wang really knows how to put on a show with it. His second qualifying run was bonkers, as he scraped all the outer zones perfectly and threw out tons of smoke. That helped him earn a 97 and the top qualifying spot.
He couldn’t maintain that momentum on Saturday however. Going up against the lowest qualifying driver, Matt Coffman, in the first battle of the Top 32, he couldn’t quite keep up and Coffman put down two great runs to advance. Wang’s hopes of a championship this year may have been defeated already, as it is extremely difficult to make up for the 87 point deficit to Aasbo.
Coffman looked like a changed man, and even though his car looked the same as last year, it was a completely different beast.
In practice Friday morning, he stuffed the rear end into the wall, but he adapted quickly and came out swinging on Saturday. This could be a breakout season for Coffman, if he can manage to keep the car in one piece.
Another driver to watch for is “Rapper” Dan Savage and his Sikky RX-8. After winning the Pro 2 Championship last year, he has carried that momentum into Long Beach with a strong performance.
He qualified 10th with an 83 point run, and took out Kristaps Bluss in the Top 32 to grab a solid amount of points.
As he currently sits in 12th, he could easily finish in the Top 10 this season and be a thorn in the championship contenders’ sides.
Another dark horse this year will be Dai Yoshi – wait, sorry, that’s Pat Goodin.
It looks like his Enjuku Racing team has gotten the turbo V8 S13 dialed in perfectly, because Goodin was looking more comfortable than anyone else on the track all weekend.
The car looks great, and even with all that turbo V8 power under the hood, it’s one of the quietest cars in FD. That’s not a bad thing…It’s actually kind of cool to hear the tires squeal and not be deaf by the time the car goes by.
We’re confident that Goodin will grab his first podium this year, and be a force to be reckoned with all season.
This beautiful car here is piloted by none other than 2014 Rookie of the Year Geoff Stoneback.
Even though this was arguably the toughest week of his life, Stoneback showed why he was ROTY in 2014 with some excellent driving.
In case you didn’t know, Stoneback is the long lost brother of Daigo Saito. The more you know.
He took out Ken Gushi is the Top 32 with a great chase run.
Stoneback had to go up against Fredric Aasbo in the Top 16, which was not going to be the easiest of battles…
But he put up a hell of a fight and only lost to the event winner by the smallest of margins. Stoneback will be looking to improve on a solid 2014 season with some great points hauls like this one.
Alec Hohnadell raced with Enjuku Racing last year, but after falling short in the ROTY chase he has switched over to work with the guys over at Get Nuts Lab.
It seems like they know what they’re doing, because Hohnadell was absolutely ripping all weekend. The car clearly fits his aggressive, on-throttle style, which should help him to really show how good he is this year.
One of the new drivers this season is Masashi Yokoi, who has come over from D1 to compete.
His D-Max Silvia S15 is, to put it bluntly, the best looking car in FD. Period.
The reflective vinyl is a great touch to compliment the aggressive, yet stylish, D-Max bodykit.
Usually when popular drivers come over to FD from other series around the world, it takes a few events for them to get comfortable with the style of driving and setup that is needed to succeed here. Yokoi doesn’t follow history though, as he had one of the fastest cars all weekend and looked fairly comfortable on the street circuit.
As you can see, he didn’t let Fredric Aasbo intimidate him at all…A mistake from Yokoi gave Aasbo the win in the Top 32, but Yokoi made a mark on everyone with his aggressive chase style.
Although he’s not technically new, Tanner Foust must feel like a rookie after a 5-year hiatus from the sport.
The new VW Passat might be on the lower end of the power spectrum in FD, but Foust is one of the best in the biz and made the best of it.
A crash in practice just minutes before qualifying meant he barely qualified, and another incident with the Turn 10 wall during his Top 32 battle with Justin Pawlak meant his weekend came to an early end. There’s no doubt that the two-time champ will be back on top at some point; the question is how soon he can make that happen.
Notably absent from the Top 16 was Chris Forsberg, who made an uncharacteristic mistake in his battle with Pat Mordaunt which cost him the battle.
The car looks great, but it seemed as though he and his team were struggling to find the right setup throughout the weekend.
He qualified 2nd with a 94, which he said was a “conservative run,” but he never looked like the “Mr. Consistent” he has been for years. However, don’t be surprised if you see him destroy everyone at Atlanta in a few weeks time; Forsberg will be out to defend his title and close the huge gap to his main rival Aasbo.
Forsberg’s Drift Alliance brother Ryan Tuerck is looking like he finally has a car and a team behind him to fight for a championship.
The car looks great, with the throwback Toyota Racing colors. What looks even better is the way he is throwing it around like it’s a missile car.
The amount of smoke he is throwing out is ridiculous, and he looked super consistent all weekend. This could be the beginning of Tuerck’s best season yet.
It’s been a while since Tuerck has stood on the podium, and he cherished every moment up there in 3rd place.
Falling just a bit short of Tuerck was Matt Field, who is determined to not repeat the mistakes and car problems that had plagued him in 2014.
Field was shredding from the moment he hit the track on Friday morning to the OMT battle with Odi Bakchis ended his weekend by the smallest of margins.
His signature highlighter-yellow S14.5 is crazy fast and throws tons of smoke. Even though he met the tire barrier after contact with Robbie Nishida in the Top 8, he still showed that he is one of the best drivers in FD and that he can be a championship contender this season.
Many people had their doubts about the Hyundai Genesis Coupe that Odi Bakchis is piloting this year for the international events, but Bakchis worked his magic and set the car up to allow him to perform just as well as last season.
Bakchis finished 4th last season in the championship standings, and has come back this year looking for a championship.
His battles with Matt Field in the Top 4 were some of the best tandem runs we’ve seen at Long Beach, showing that both drivers will be fighting tooth and nail for the podium at every event.
A costly mistake in his final battle with Fredric Aasbo showed that he needs to come through in the clutch or he will finish just below the championship contenders as he did last year.
With the first round finished and the second round in Atlanta coming up soon, the points standings are as follows:
1. Fredric Aasbo – 105
2. Odi Bakchis – 83 (-22)
3. Ryan Tuerck – 68 (-37)
4. Matt Field – 68 (-37)
5. Vaughn Gittin Jr. – 52 (-53)
6. Tyler McQuarrie – 51 (-54)
7. Robbie Nishida – 51 (-54)
8. Pat Mordaunt – 50 (-55)
9. Chris Forsberg – 38 (-67)
10. Justin Pawlak – 36 (-69)
We’ll have even more content from Long Beach, so keep an eye out for it!
I’d like to end this post with a message for everyone in the drifting community.
Geoff Stoneback’s brother-from-another-mother, Mark Lenardon, was involved in a very bad motorcycle accident early in the week before the event. Geoff got out to Long Beach from his home in Pennsylvania as soon as he could, and helped care for Mark in the hospital while Mark’s family made their way in from Michigan.
I’ve partied and shot with Mark for years now at Formula D and at ClubLoose, and I can easily say he was one of the funniest, down to Earth guys I’ve ever met. I’m honored to call him a friend.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mark’s father at the hospital, and he told me that the love and support that has poured out from the drifting community has kept his family strong.
Mark will forever be remembered as the fun-loving and talented media guy who always had a way to make someone laugh.
Mark, I speak for everyone at OMGDrift when I say that we will miss you more than anything, and that our love for you goes out to your wonderful family.
We’d also like to send our love to Geoff for his amazing acts of kindness for Mark and his family.