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FORMULA DRIFT NEW JERSEY: FOUR ROUNDS INTO THE SEASON AND THE FOURTH DIFFERENT WINNER IS CROWNED

We’re only four events into the 2018 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship but a fourth driver climbed to the top step of the podium to claim the victory at the Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey this weekend. Overcoming an impressive list of challengers throughout the heats, 2017 champion James Deane (Ireland) put a mark in the win column.

The Advance Auto Parts Round Four: The Gauntlet presented by Black Magic represents a milestone for Formula DRIFT, with this being the 100th round in the series’ history. It would be celebrated in the best possible way with top flight drift action from the best drivers in the world.

The event got off to a cloudy start with the threat of rain remaining all weekend. Mercifully, it didn’t materialize during the competition, although the conditions would be hot and humid for the drivers as they made their way through practice and into qualifying.

Repeating his performance from Round Three, Justin “JTP” Pawlak driving the Roush Performance / Falken Tires 2018 Ford Mustang clawed his way to the top of qualifying with two strong runs that earned him a bye in the first competition heat.

“Practice was tough for us,” Justin reflected after qualification. “It took me a while to find the best line but then I was able to put it all together and qualify first, which is great to repeat after Atlanta. I need to do a better job of turning this qualifying form into results during the heats.”

Qualifying second was Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis (Lithuania) in the Falken Tires / Maxxoil / Drifz Wheels Nissan S14 with a consistent pair of runs, losing out to Pawlak by just three points.

Behind the top pair were the usual suspects, with James Deane in third, Fredric Aasbo (Norway) in fourth and Matt Field (USA) in fifth – the latter finally getting to grips with his new-for-2018 Wish / Borla / Falken Tire Chevrolet Corvette.

In the main event, Pawlak took advantage of his bye run in the Top 32 to replace a broken driveshaft that snapped during a free run. It meant he only just made the grid for the Top 16 where he faced Alec Hohnadell (USA) in the Rain-X / Permatex / Nexen / Hoonigan Nissan S14. Pawlak’s win then pitted him against the FD Orlando round winner, Chris Forsberg (USA) in the NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z on Nexen Tires. Forsberg qualified ninth and would eventually finish fifth overall but had no intention of giving Pawlak an easy ride. Their first runs were too close to call, so the Judges requested “One More Time” resulting in repeated runs and a victory to Pawlak courtesy of a mechanical issue for Forsberg on the final run.

Pawlak’s good fortune would end when the Ford driver faced Matt Field in his Chevrolet. It was another titanic battle, with the Judges requesting “One More Time” and still struggling to separate them. The decision would fall to Field who headed to the Final.

Matt Field’s day started in the Top 32 against Jeff Jones in the Doc X / Falken Nissan 370Z. He then faced Ryan Tuerck (USA) in the Ryan Tuerck Racing / Gumout / Black Magic / Nexen Tire Toyota 86 before meeting Forrest Wang (USA) in the Great 8. The latter would be an exciting battle that was decided by a collision in the second run when Field collided with Wang’s Vapetasia / Achilles Radial / NRG Innovations Nissan S15. The Judges ruled that the incident occurred when Wang braked before the Decel Zone, causing Field to make contact. The decision would see Field advance to the final against James Deane.

Having qualified third in his Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15, the 2017 Formula DRIFT champion also had a challenging path to the final. It started against Kazuya Taguchi (Japan) in the Achilles Radial / Up Garage / Top 1 Oil Nissan GT-R. Deane then met his own team-mate – Piotr Wiecek (Poland) in an identical Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15. With the same machinery and both drivers on top form, it was an epic battle that kept the fans on the edge of their seats. The decision would go to the Irishman, who moved on to face Kenshiro Gushi (Japan) in the GPP Toyota Racing / Falken Tire Toyota 86. Ken was unable to slow Deane’s roll as he headed to the Final Four, where he faced Odi Bakchis.

Having qualified second, Bakchis was very comfortable on the New Jersey course and pushed Deane hard. The Judges requested “One More Time” and Deane was forced to use his five-minute technical time-out to make repairs to the car. In end, Deane was unstoppable but certainly wasn’t gifted the win.

The final between James Deane and Matt Field brought two very different cars to the grid, with Deane was the on-form favorite. “We had a tough round in Atlanta after our crash in Orlando. It meant we’ve been chasing problems with the car all weekend and my confidence wasn’t the best. But the team worked so hard to fix the car and we made some changes that produced huge improvements. With the car working really well I pushed hard all day against some tough opponents. In the end, it was a super-close battle against Matt Field in the Final and I don’t know what gave us the decision but I’ll take it.”

Looking ahead to the next round, Deane continued: “I’m so happy after this result and we’re going to Seattle feeling great, hoping to maintain the momentum. We’re also leading the championship for the first time this season, which is a great confidence boost. I’m really happy with the team and the car but the level of driving in 2018 has jumped up and everybody is pushing so hard. This is making it really difficult to get a win in Formula DRIFT but we got one and I’m so happy.”

For Matt Field, his decision to build a new car was finally producing results. “It’s been a long off-season for us,” he explained. “It was five months of hell in the shop every day but today it’s finally starting to pay off. Up until this point we’ve only been reaching the Top 16. It gets a little boring. The guys [in the team] get a little tired of it. But today we got a podium: second place in a car that’s brand new and has a huge learning curve. It’s not something you can buy off the shelf and magically works – it took a lot of work and a lot of learning to get here. I’m fortunate to have the partners behind me that helped to develop it and the car was working really well.”

With his second place finish, Field moves to ninth in the 2018 Formula DRIFT championship. James Deane moves to first, displacing Fredric Aasbo for the first time since he won the opening round. Justin Pawlak’s third place elevates him to fifth in the championship and gave Falken Tire a clean sweep of the podium. The result also allowed Falken to jump ahead of Nexen at the top of the 2018 Formula DRIFT Tire Cup. And finally, Ford moves to second place in the 2018 Formula DRIFT Auto Cupahead of Nissan, largely thanks to Pawlak’s consistency. They sit behind Toyota in first place courtesy of Aasbo’s dominance.

Formula DRIFT president, Jim Liaw was able to look back on an exciting weekend and the important milestone for the series. “Realizing we’ve completed 100 rounds allows us to see how we’ve grown. This event was part of season two and we’ve seen the number of fans and their intensity grow every year. They bring so much energy to the venue and the track itself makes it a unique experience with its banked speedway oval taking drivers from 30-degrees to zero. It’s all happening midway through the season and the teams are in a rhythm and bringing their A-game. So we’re delighted how the event turned out, bringing together such great teams for the 100th round in front of awesome fans. It’s been a great event.”

Round Five: Autozone Throwdown presented by Rain-X takes place in Monroe, WA on July 20-21. Visit formulad.com for event details, ticket purchases, driver profiles and Livestream information.

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/formula-drift-new-jersey-four-rounds-into-the-season-and-the-fourth-different-winner-is-crowned/


Top 10 Things from Formula Drift New Jersey

 
Written by Joey Redmond of Wrecked Magazine
 

10. Falken Tires Are Really Good at Wall

Way back when in 2009 the Falken Tire team also swept the podium in New Jersey. Back then it was Darren McNamara, Tyler McQuarrie, and Vaughn Gittin Jr. on a new Falken tire setting up the new era of dominance in the series. Something about the Falken compound seems to love this track allowing them to secure a second tire sweep of the podium in the tracks long and memorable Formula Drift history.

9. Ken Gushi is A Veteran Back on the Rise

Ken Gushi had some of the most exciting battles of the New Jersey Formula Drift weekend. His Toyota 86 is looked to be the most dialed it has been in some time. Pending some serious mechanical issues I think he can push on to have a successful 2018. The Gushi battles against Kristaps Bluss were perhaps some of the craziest this season.
 
 
 

8. Matt VanKirk Grabs the Lead in the Rookie of the Year Race

Another Top 16 for the rookie VanKirk who managed to beat Jhonnatan Castro in the Top 32. He advanced to the Top 16 in Orlando after Michael Essa was unable to come to the line making it his second Top 16 of the season. His other two Top 32 loses are both to Fredric Aasbo at this time giving him a respectable loss record among the rookie class. VanKirk now sits 16 points ahead of Dirk Stratton in the Rookie of the Year race for 2018.
 
 
 

7. Justin Pawlak Showing Championship Form

JTP has been on fire in qualifying the past two rounds and backed it up in tandem by beating Alec Hohnadell and Chris Forsberg before losing to Matt Field in a wild Final Four battle. With this great performance he has jumped to 5th place in the championship and is just 98 points behind the new leader James Deane.
 
 
 

6. Matt Field is Back!

I feel like Matt Field has been my punching bag this season in the Top 10 Things. Finally, after a little wall slap/crash in Atlanta I think the Corvette is just his normal drift car. With that, he looked as comfortable as he did back in his S-Chassis days. He was clearly better than everyone on the track this past weekend outside of James Deane. I look forward to his progression this season, with a potential victory for him before the year is done. He is 123 points behind Deane in the Championship so I think it’s a little far back this late in the game for a real chance at his first championship. I do think a top three finish could be in the cards for the teal and blue Chevy.
 
 
 

5. Ready for a Worthouse. Rematch Already

Piotr breaking was the biggest disappointment of weekend. Up until that moment the Piotr vs. James Deane battle was the show stealer than never got finished. According to Deane, Piotr’s car overheated and went into a safe mode shutting him down from having full horsepower. What a bummer his car overheated because that battle was quite insane up until that point. James Deane’s chase entry on the bank was unreal and you should fire up the live stream and go check it out if you missed it.
 
 
 

4. A Look Back At the 100th Event

It’s hard to imagine Formula Drift has endured 100 events. A quick reflection of the series will show you that 27 unique drivers from 11 countries have won a Formula Drift event to date. The progression of the sport can really be highlighted by watching old Formula Drift events videos from Wall Speedway with cars probably a whole foot from the bank railing. Today, that would be grounds for a very poor score, as most drifters can ride the top line of the wall all around the small circuit. The competition has increased massively in tandem with the higher horsepower and strategy that makes up an event weekend. I personally cannot wait to get started with the next 100 rounds. The next event around the corner in another track-favorite, Evergreen Speedway.
 
 
 

3. Forrest Wang’s Demolition Derby

Poor Forrest Wang had a really rough weekend smashing into Aasbo and then getting smashed into by Matt Field. Both of these events I touched on in #2, but these wrecks caused some serious damage into his S-Chassis. Two years ago at this event, there was a happening that created an Internet frenzy when Forsberg smashed into Wang coming off the bank, resulting in a Forsberg win. Literally the same thing happened at this year’s event with Matt Field. Wang had some interesting things to say with Laurette Nicole in the post-battle interview. It was the first time he really admitted the Forsberg incident was his fault but then said the incident with Field was a, “fine line” call for the judges and could have, “gone either way”. Contact always is tricky in this sport but being given the call against Aasbo due to Aasbo being off throttle I don’t see how the judges could of ruled the Field call any other way.
 
 
 

2. Judges Show Some Key Consistency

I think one of the best things any driver can ask for when it comes to a judged sport is consistency. The judges made two very tough calls that were very consistent that should leave drivers and fans feeling good about the direction of Formula Drift. The Wang vs. Aasbo battle was a tough call but was a result of contact due to slow speed from the lead driver. This allowed Wang to advance where Matt Field hit him for slowing down in a non-deceleration zone. I think it was tough but consistent which is key.

1. JAMES Deane!!!!!!!!!

James Deane was off to a really rough start with his championship repeat quest and it seemed he was doing nothing but chasing problems with the S15 round after round. He finally nailed it and took home the victory after some seriously hard fought battles at the Gauntlet over the race weekend. This was his fifth career win and makes him the 10th most winning driver in Formula Drift history after just one and a half seasons in the United States competing.
 
 
 

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/featured/top-10-things-from-formula-drift-new-jersey/


Fredric Aasbo fights hard in New Jersey

 

Series now heads west to Washington State for Round 5

WALL, New Jersey (June 3, 2018) – Fredric Aasbo is in a close championship fight with a familiar rival as the 2018 Formula Drift season enters its second half. Aasbo trails defending champion James Deane by just 17 points with four events remaining in 2018.

A strong qualifying performance at Wall Speedway saw Aasbo drive the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla Hatchback to the fourth position in the competition ladder.

From there, he advanced past Faruk Kugay in the Round of 32 to meet Forrest Wang in the Top 16. But the driver’s day ended early when a rare misstep saw him make contact with the trackside guardrail that has given Wall Speedway its reputation for treachery.

Known as “The Gauntlet,” the New Jersey track was especially difficult this weekend, with a number of teams struggling to avoid contact. The event ran long with delays for officials to clear damaged vehicles.

While leading the close battle with Wang, Aasbo tapped guardrail, forcing a line adjustment. “I think I got into my own head a little,” said Aasbo. “I felt I had to race away from Forrest and went wide on the first corner. That was all it took.”

The vehicles made contact and both cars spun. The judges deemed the contact unavoidable for Wang and awarded fault to Aasbo. The decision was controversial, splitting fans in the packed house. “We’ve had a great outpouring of support, which has been really nice,” said Aasbo. “But we accept the judges’ decision.”

The team called for a competition time-out and made an impressive effort to return their damaged vehicle to competition within the allotted five minutes. Despite an aggressive chase drive, however, Aasbo couldn’t overcome the incomplete first run.

“Fredric was driving hard and the car was competitive,” said Stephan Papadakis, owner of Papadakis Racing. “Mistakes at Wall are amplified by the steep banking and this wasn’t our weekend. Overall, we’ve had a strong year and this is just a little setback. We’re looking ahead and feeling positive.”

Aasbo has achieved a podium result at each of the three previous rounds this season, with a win at the season opener this April in California, third in Florida two weeks later, and a second-place result in mid-May at Road Atlanta.

The team now returns to Papadakis Racing headquarters, in Hawthorne, California, where the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla Hatchback will receive a mid-season rebuild. The Formula Drift season resumes in Monroe, Washington, July 20-21, for the fifth stop in the eight-round series.

Aasbo now returns to a series of Gatebil events in Europe to keep his skills sharp before returning to the USA.

Formula Drift enjoys a dedicated and engaged audience with sell-out crowds all season long. This season, each livestream broadcast is averaging ore than two million viewers, while Facebook impressions for the previous competition at Road Atlanta numbered 16 million.

Drifting is a high-skill, high-powered motorsport with an emphasis on car control. In the Formula Drift series, drivers compete in knockout heats on a closed course, sliding sideways in trials judged on speed and style. With origins in Japan, it is one of the fastest growing forms of motorsport in the world.

Fredric Aasbo battles for the 2018 Formula Drift Championship title with four events
remaining on the calendar. (Photo: Larry Chen / Toyota Racing)

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/fredric-aasbo-fights-hard-in-new-jersey/



International Formula Drift Pro Driver Alex Heilbrunn signs with Racer Development & Management

(Charlotte, NC) – Racer Development and Management is pleased to announce that Formula Drift competitor Alex Heilbrunn has signed with the company for the 2018 season.

Heilbrunn grew up racing mountain bikes, but after numerous injuries he was on the hunt for a new adrenaline rush. Originally purchasing a 240sx, he was hooked at the idea of pushing a car to the limit but still have complete control.

“Formula Drift is a very appealing market for potential sponsors of racers in the series and I am very excited to work with Alex Heilbrunn from Peru,” stated Zack Skolnick CEO of Racer Development and Management. “He brings a unique driving style to the series and we look forward to the remaining of the 2018 Formula Drift Pro Championship together.”

Alex Heilbrunn is no stranger to being a champion. He is the 2015 Formula Drift Pro2 Champion and 2016 Formula Drift Rookie of the year. He has countless championships in his home country of Peru. Look for Alex to be a threat for the podium in the remaining of the 2018 Formula D Pro Championship events.

“I’m excited to have Zack and Racer Development Manage my US racing efforts in Formula Drift,” stated Heilbrunn when asked about the partnership. “He will elevate my personal brand as a driver and take our team to the next level.”

The next Formula Drift event is ‘”The Gauntlet “in Wall, New Jersey June 1st-2nd.

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/international-formula-drift-pro-driver-alex-heilbrunn-signs-with-racer-development-management/


Fredric Aasbo in title hunt heading into mid-season

 
Driver leads championship as series heads for Wall, NJ

WALL, New Jersey (May 30, 2018) – Formula Drift championship leader Fredric Aasbo is in the hunt for a second win of the season in the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla Hatchback as the series heads to New Jersey this weekend for Round 4.

“The last time I won at Wall Speedway was in 2015, on the way to winning the Formula Drift championship title,” said Aasbo. “It’s an unforgiving track that is really tough on the cars, but we’ve figured out a setup that has worked really well in the past. I’m looking forward to unleashing the new car there.”

Aasbo has won twice at Wall Speedway, bringing home the victory in 2014 and 2015. He enters the event this year as the only driver to finish on the podium at every stop so far.

The compact nature of the Wall track focuses the competition into close quarters, where mistakes can be costly. Drivers are rewarded for staying close to the guardrail on the steeply banked track, known as “The Gauntlet.” Maintaining drift from the backing through the transition to the tight-radius finishing corner requires a perfect blend of speed and control.

The forecast this weekend shows a mix of sun and rain, playing to the driver’s strengths in all conditions. “Growing up in Norway, I learned how to drive in any kind of weather,” said Aasbo. “Wet weather certainly adds to the challenge, but if it comes, I hope it might also give us an edge.”

Focusing on fundamentals has proven an effective strategy for the Papadakis Racing team.
“Wall is one of those tracks where there are as many as 10 drivers in the field who could win, so we’ll keep doing what works,” said team owner Stephan Papadakis. “We’ll be looking for a strong qualifying performance and to carry the momentum throughout the competition.”

Competition starts this Friday with qualifying at 3:15 p.m. and runs through Saturday, with Top 32 tandem at 1 p.m. Fans of Formula Drift can watch live stream coverage of the series online, or catch the broadcast coverage on the CBS Sports Network.

Drifting is a high-skill, high-powered motorsport with an emphasis on car control. In the Formula Drift series, drivers compete in knockout heats on a closed course, sliding sideways in trials judged on speed and style. With origins in Japan, it is one of the fastest growing forms of motorsport in the world.

Fredric Aasbo sets his sights on another 2018 win at Wall, NJ, June 1-2.
(Photo: Larry Chen / Toyota Racing)

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/fredric-aasbo-in-title-hunt-heading-into-mid-season/


10 Things Learned From Formula Drift Atlanta

 
Written by Joey Redmond of Wrecked Magazine
 

10. Is James Deane’s Kryptonite a BMW?

While James Deane is quickly becoming a staple in the Formula Drift history books, he cannot seem to buy a win against his fellow European Kristaps Bluss. A record of 0-2 against Bluss is the only driver in Formula Drift who hasn’t lost to Deane after meeting him more than once. In fact, only two drivers in Formula Drift history have beaten him more than once at this point in time. That would be Kristaps Bluss (2-0) against Deane and Chris Forsberg (2-3) against Deane. Those are some pretty wild statistics and I am personally finding Deane’s tandem much more enjoyable this season compared to last. Kristaps Bluss and his HGK Eurofighter BMW might be the only thing to just stop this championship repeat from James Deane.
 
 
 

9. Matt Coffman Jumps the Light

This was a pretty wild turn of events for the weekend. Matt Coffman jumps the light and leaves Ken Gushi in his dust during Top 32. Matt Coffman is given the win and after Top 32 a protest is reviewed and the first run (leading to the protest) must be re-run just before Top 16 starts. The new runs result in Ken Gushi advancing to the Top 16. I think the judges and staff made the right call to rectify a bad situation. I do think this should have this of been caught in the first place (I’m sure Ken Gushi agrees!). Who is monitoring the light at the start line? This should be monitored more carefully in the future. It’s probably not a crisis since this really hasn’t happened before but I have to wonder how much more trouble this would have caused if it was done in a faster moving part of the event like the Great 8.
 
 
 

8. Ryan Tuerck Looked Really Good

One driver who hadn’t caught my eye yet this season was Ryan Tuerck! His Toyota 86 looked really dialed and if he had avoided James Deane that early in the event I think a podium was an easy score for him. His battle against Vaughn Gittin Jr. in Top 32 was one of the best tandem runs of the weekend and likely overlooked since it was so early on. I even would make the argument on his first group of runs against James Deane he had perhaps slightly the better runs. I hope this is a sign the team is gearing up for a strong second half of the season. Tuerck hasn’t landed an event victory since Orlando Speed World in 2015 so he does feel really overdue for his fourth career victory.
 
 
 

7. Pro 2 Was the Best of Times and Worst of Times

Some of the Pro 2 battles were ugly and some were really really fun. I want to put a little focus on the positive and say I think the top 5 guys in Pro 2 that drove in Atlanta could likely beat the bottom 5 drifters in the Pro ranks right now. The Riley Sexsmith and Ryan Litteral battle was quite a highlight of the weekend with Sexsmith constantly smashing into the KORU Works 350z in the tandem runs but Litteral held his line and finished the lap. Ola Jaeger looked like a younger Fredric Aasbo (in his old MKIV Supra) as he went on to victory against Dylan Hughes whom also really looks like a future top drifting Pro as well. Pro 2 after some rough teething years is starting to look like a great success story.
 
 
 

6. The Livestream Dual Run Replay is so Key

I really found these to be one of my main highlights from Road Atlanta. Some of the battles really needed these to help you realize where each driver made different mistakes. I think split view drifting in this manner will really help the general fan understand how a call was made. The icing on the Livestream cake will be when they get more camera angels live (especially for car to car contact) or just let us view that drone they are always flying around for the CBS broadcast please!
 
 
 

5. The Rookie Race is Tighter than Ever

Just 36 championship points split the top five drivers competing for the Rookie of the Year crown. Dirk Stratton in fact, only holds the lead over Matt VanKirk by just 1 championship point right now. This has to be the most exciting and close rookie races in recent memory. I don’t really see a clear ROTY winner this season yet, so this is a competition I’m going to keep a close eye on for the Top 10 through the rest of the season. That is, until one driver rises to the occasion and starts dominating the Rookie Championship standings.
 
 
 

4. Jhonnattan Castro DNF Raises An Interesting Question

After thinking about this incident between Castro and Rad Dan, I realize you have to call it a racing incident, but man it hurts for Jhonnattan Castro. You can almost attribute his mechanical failure to the fact that Rad Dan slammed his Supra into his Toyota 86 in that same spot earlier. However, Formula Drift staff cannot really make that kind of retroactive call so it’s a tough spot for everyone. This should be a stark reminder for teams to really check over their suspension when given the free pass to inspect the car after racing contact. I do have to wonder under what conditions it would have been possible to catch this.
 
 
 

3. Justin Pawlak’s Second Qualifying Run was Incredible

Everyone has stepped up their qualifying game this season and you have to imagine the free gift of 16 championship points by drawing “bye run” has to be a factor the top teams are considering. Scores are edging closer and closer to a perfect 100, event after event which means the driving level is at an all time high. If you need any evidence, just look at Justin Pawlak’s insane second qualifying run he put down a strong 97. That run came after his first pass scored him a respectable 95. I really think the 100 score run is coming this season sooner or later. Network A was kind enough to make a video of the top 5 qualifying runs in case you don’t want to spend hours watching the Livestream digging for the gems.
 
 
 

2. The Crashes and Car-to-Car Hits Really Piled Up this Season

Matt Field and Pro 2 driver Jonathan Burnstad took some hard hits into the uphill wall at Road Atlanta. Both incidents were Thursday crashes so the footage was limited but it caught my attention, as I don’t consider Road Atlanta to be a car-destroying track. The amount of car-to-car contact in Pro was also increased this weekend to a very high percentage over the past few years. What caused these supposed increases? Was it increased speeds or were these mistakes part of the progression of drifting increasing from year to year? I’m not quite sure yet but these mishaps pave the way for a potentially dangerous Wall Speedway round next which tends to claim a couple cars into the banked wall on any given drift weekend.
 
 
 

1. Kristaps Bluss Gets his Revenge

I am sure Kristaps Bluss envisioned his first Formula Drift victory over and over again in his head. He would finally become the 27th drifter in history to win a Formula Drift event. It just happened to be a rematch of the last time he made the finals against Fredric Aasbo at Orlando Speed World. From my perspective that battle was Kristaps to lose. So I am sure it felt rather poetic that he managed to beat the same driver to take home his first ever event victory! With the way his car looked at Road Atlanta, I can see him winning his second event this season. His BMW also becomes just the third one to ever win a Formula Drift event.

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/10-things-learned-from-formula-drift-atlanta/


KRISTAPS BLUSS SCORES FIRST FORMULA DRIFT VICTORY AT ROAD ATLANTA

 

Formula DRIFT arrived at Road Atlanta this weekend for the NAPA Auto Parts: Road to the Championship presented by Rain X. Round Three would be the first time in 2018 that the Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship would run alongside the Formula DRIFT Linked ECU Pro2 Championship. The series was also joined by Global Time Attack and the US F4 championship to give fans an action-packed weekend.

That action leapt into overdrive during Friday qualifying for the Pro category when two familiar faces rose to the top. This included Justin “JTP” Pawlak (USA) qualifying first in his Roush Performance / Falken Tires 2018 Ford Mustang. With 13 years drifting experience, he scored 97 points in qualifying, narrowly beating Daijiro Yoshihara (Japan) in second place. Dai scored 96 points in his Turn 14 Distribution / Falken Tire Subaru BRZ and is one of a handful of drivers who have been with Formula DRIFT since the series was founded in 2004. The 2011 FD champion held off Fredric Aasbo (Norway), himself the 2015 FD champion, in his Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla. Aasbo recorded a best score of 95 points to put him third. He was placed ahead of James Deane (Ireland), the 2017 FD champion, who also scored 95 points in his Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15. However, James was awarded fourth by virtue of a lower score on his second run.

To give an indication of the competitive nature of the 2018 Formula DRIFT season, positions five through eight all scored and identical 94 points. In fact, the top 12 drivers were only separated by seven points on their best scoring runs. They were placed according to the combined score from the two permissible qualifying runs, with very little to choose between these top drivers.

Qualifying fifth with two very consistent runs – scoring an identical 94 points each time – was Kristaps Blušs (Latvia) in his HGK Racing Team / Achilles Radial / MAST Motorsports BMW E92 “Eurofighter”. He’s been a professional drifter since 2010 and completed his first full Formula DRIFT season in 2015 when he finished 28th overall. The following year Blušs finished 12th and stepped up to fifth overall in 2017. And with such steady progression through the ranks, it should come as no surprise to students of Formula DRIFT that he won his first event at Road Atlanta in 2018.

The maiden victory for Blušs didn’t come easy. With the field separated by the smallest margin, the competition was among the toughest of any Formula DRIFT event. In fact, there was a record number of “One More Time” runs with 11 called throughout the competition. For those who don’t know, “One More Time” is requested when the judges call for the drivers to repeat their runs because it was impossible to pick a winner from the first runs.

The climb to the top for Blušs began in the Top 32 against Kevin Lawrence (USA) driving his Enjuku Racing / BC Racing Nissan S14.3. Following that victory, his path was blocked by Forrest Wang in his Vapetasia / Achilles Radial / NRG Innovations Nissan S15. Wang is back from a one-year sabbatical and finished second at the opening round before standing on the podium twice at the 2018 Motegi Super DRIFT Challenge. The on-form Wang didn’t make things easy for Blušs. In fact, the judges called for “One More Time” an unprecedented two times.

The Latvian would move on to the Top 8, where he met 2017 Formula DRIFT champ James Deane in yet another Nissan. It was a similarly titanic struggle against Deane that must have had Blušs seeing double because once he’d vanquished the Irishman, Kristaps lined up against Deane’s teammate, Piotr Wiecek (Poland) in an identical Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15. The intensity continued to mount as Wiecek – currently sitting fourth in the championship – piled on the pressure, determined to reach the final himself. However, the Pole was on the Blušs hitlist and would fall like the drivers before him.

In the Final, Blušs met 2015 FD champion, Fredric Aasbo. The Norwegian drifter is top of the 2018 championship standings thanks to a win and third place in the previous rounds. Driving his brand new Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla, Aasbo had a slightly easier path to the Final thanks to a bye round in the Top 32. He then brushed aside Dan Burkett (USA) in his RAD Industries / Nexen Tire / Toyota Supra in the Top 16, and Chelsea Denofa (USA) in his BC Racing / Nitto Tire / Ford Performance Mustang RTR in the Top 8. The semi-final was against multiple Formula DRIFT champion Chris Forsberg driving his NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z on Nexen Tires. Forsberg put up a valiant fight but couldn’t resist Aasbo, who proved to be unstoppable until the final.

When Blušs met Aasbo it was a meteoric contest. Both drivers committed everything to the struggle and the judges once again requested “One More Time.” It would take one tiny mistake to separate them and eventually the decision went to Blušs.

“I’m exhausted but happy to be covered in champagne,” said Aasbo immediately after stepping from the podium. “This is exactly how I want to be after a night like this. I’m ecstatic that we broke our Atlanta curse – we haven’t done well here since 2012 but today we got on the podium and lost against the guy to beat. Kristaps (Blušs) totally deserved the win. He’s been at it for many years and his car was a rocketship. I’m super-relieved to be on the podium and stoked to extend my lead in the championship.”

For Kristaps Blušs it was an emotional moment to finally claim a Formula DRIFT Pro category win. “It feels really great to have achieved this. I had two One More Times against Wang before battling both Worthouse guys, who are crazy good. Fortunately, my Achilles tires performed well and I got to the Final with Fredric Aasbo. I’d battled with him five times before and always lost but finally I beat him. It feels crazy to be standing here and I’m going to try to maintain the momentum for the rest of the season.”

The excitement of Formula DRIFT Atlanta was summed up by FD president, Jim Liaw. “Road Atlanta never fails to excite. The fans are amazing and contribute so much to the energy of the event. What they bring is contagious and the drivers feel it – you see it on-track with amazing competition, which gave the judges a really hard time to pick a winner from some of the battles. This is why Road Atlanta has been on our calendar for the last 15 years. It’s a great place and the fans are awesome.”

Round Four: The Gauntlet takes place in Wall, NJ on June 1-2. Visit formulad.com for event details, ticket purchases, driver profiles and Livestream information.

PRO2 CHAMPIONSHIP
Road Atlanta hosted the opening round of the 2018 Link ECU Formula DRIFT Pro2 Championship. A full field battled for the top step of the podium and Travis Reeder (USA) put everybody on notice by qualifying first in his Achilles Radial Nissan 240SX. He would defeat Crick Filippi (USA) in his Fitzgerald Glider Kits / Nexen Tire USA Nissan S13 in the Top 16 run-off, and then Kelsey Rowlings in his Top 1 Oil / Achilles Radial Nissan S14 in the Top 8. Travis’ run would eventually be halted by second place qualifier, Dylan Hughes (USA) in his Advanced Auto Parts / Nexen Tire Nissan S13.

For his part, Hughes had to overcome Adam Knapik (Poland) in the Knapik Racing / Achilles Radial Nissan S14 in the Top 16 before meeting Kenric Meyer (USA) in his BC Racing / Achilles Radial BMW M3 in the Top 8.

Hughes would eventually lose the final to Ola Jaeger (Norway) who was driving his Team Japan Auto / Nexen Tire Toyota Supra. Having qualified fourth, Ola first met Trenton Beechum (USA) in the Roush Performance / Nexen Tire Ford Mustang. Trenton had finished third in the 2018 Motegi Super DRIFT Challenge in Long Beach last month but couldn’t hold off Jaeger, who would subsequently beat Andy Hately (USA) in the Hateley Motorsports / Achilles Radial / BMW E30 before reaching and defeating Dylan Hughes in the Final.

“It’s been a long day,” said a relieved Ola Jaeger after the Link ECU Pro2 podium celebrations. “I had been a little concerned coming into the weekend but my confidence increased battle by battle. I’m delighted to have beaten Dylan (Hughes), who is among the best in the Pro2. To win each of those battles felt unreal, and I’m delighted to be standing here after the team worked so hard all winter. We’re really looking forward to the remainder of the season and hope for continued success.”

Jim Liaw, Formula DRIFT president, was also extremely happy with the outcome: “After developing the Pro2 category for so many seasons, it’s really hitting its stride now. Last season ended well with tough, close competition, and today’s Top 16 was super-exciting and competitive, which is a great sign for the future of the Link ECU Pro2 Championship. We’re definitely looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Round Two of the Link ECU Pro2 Championship takes place at Round Six of the Formula DRIFT series in St Louis, MO on August 10-11. Pro2 then moves on to Dallas, TX on September 14-15 and culminates at the series Finals in Irwindale, CA on October 12-13.

Visit formulad.com for event details, ticket purchases, driver profiles and Livestream information.

2018 FORMULA DRIFT CHAMPIONSHIP

Top 16 finishing places from FD Atlanta

To view the Top 32 finishers, click here:
formulad.com/results/2018/road-atlanta/pro
Top FivePro Championship standings after three rounds

To view the 2018 Pro Championship standings, click here:
formulad.com/standings/2018/pro

Top Five Pro2Championship standings after one round

To view the 2018 Pro2 Championship standings, click here:
formulad.com/results/2018/road-atlanta/pro2

Top FiveAuto Cup standings after three rounds

To view the 2018 Auto Cup standings, click here:
formulad.com/standings/2018/pro
Tire Cup standings after three rounds

To view the 2018 Tire Cup standings, click here:
formulad.com/standings/2018/pro

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/kristaps-bluss-scores-first-formula-drift-victory-at-road-atlanta/


KRISTAPS BLUŠS SCORES FIRST FORMULA DRIFT VICTORY AT ROAD ATLANTA

 

Formula DRIFT arrived at Road Atlanta this weekend for the NAPA Auto Parts: Road to the Championship presented by Rain X. Round Three would be the first time in 2018 that the Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship would run alongside the Formula DRIFT Linked ECU Pro2 Championship. The series was also joined by Global Time Attack and the US F4 championship to give fans an action-packed weekend.

That action leapt into overdrive during Friday qualifying for the Pro category when two familiar faces rose to the top. This included Justin “JTP” Pawlak (USA) qualifying first in his Roush Performance / Falken Tires 2018 Ford Mustang. With 13 years drifting experience, he scored 97 points in qualifying, narrowly beating Daijiro Yoshihara (Japan) in second place. Dai scored 96 points in his Turn 14 Distribution / Falken Tire Subaru BRZ and is one of a handful of drivers who have been with Formula DRIFT since the series was founded in 2004. The 2011 FD champion held off Fredric Aasbo (Norway), himself the 2015 FD champion, in his Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla. Aasbo recorded a best score of 95 points to put him third. He was placed ahead of James Deane (Ireland), the 2017 FD champion, who also scored 95 points in his Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15. However, James was awarded fourth by virtue of a lower score on his second run.

To give an indication of the competitive nature of the 2018 Formula DRIFT season, positions five through eight all scored and identical 94 points. In fact, the top 12 drivers were only separated by seven points on their best scoring runs. They were placed according to the combined score from the two permissible qualifying runs, with very little to choose between these top drivers.

Qualifying fifth with two very consistent runs – scoring an identical 94 points each time – was Kristaps Blušs (Latvia) in his HGK Racing Team / Achilles Radial / MAST Motorsports BMW E92 “Eurofighter”. He’s been a professional drifter since 2010 and completed his first full Formula DRIFT season in 2015 when he finished 28th overall. The following year Blušs finished 12th and stepped up to fifth overall in 2017. And with such steady progression through the ranks, it should come as no surprise to students of Formula DRIFT that he won his first event at Road Atlanta in 2018.

The maiden victory for Blušs didn’t come easy. With the field separated by the smallest margin, the competition was among the toughest of any Formula DRIFT event. In fact, there was a record number of “One More Time” runs with 11 called throughout the competition. For those who don’t know, “One More Time” is requested when the judges call for the drivers to repeat their runs because it was impossible to pick a winner from the first runs.

The climb to the top for Blušs began in the Top 32 against Kevin Lawrence (USA) driving his Enjuku Racing / BC Racing Nissan S14.3. Following that victory, his path was blocked by Forrest Wang in his Vapetasia / Achilles Radial / NRG Innovations Nissan S15. Wang is back from a one-year sabbatical and finished second at the opening round before standing on the podium twice at the 2018 Motegi Super DRIFT Challenge. The on-form Wang didn’t make things easy for Blušs. In fact, the judges called for “One More Time” an unprecedented two times.

The Latvian would move on to the Top 8, where he met 2017 Formula DRIFT champ James Deane in yet another Nissan. It was a similarly titanic struggle against Deane that must have had Blušs seeing double because once he’d vanquished the Irishman, Kristaps lined up against Deane’s teammate, Piotr Wiecek (Poland) in an identical Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15. The intensity continued to mount as Wiecek – currently sitting fourth in the championship – piled on the pressure, determined to reach the final himself. However, the Pole was on the Blušs hitlist and would fall like the drivers before him.

In the Final, Blušs met 2015 FD champion, Fredric Aasbo. The Norwegian drifter is top of the 2018 championship standings thanks to a win and third place in the previous rounds. Driving his brand new Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla, Aasbo had a slightly easier path to the Final thanks to a bye round in the Top 32. He then brushed aside Dan Burkett (USA) in his RAD Industries / Nexen Tire / Toyota Supra in the Top 16, and Chelsea Denofa (USA) in his BC Racing / Nitto Tire / Ford Performance Mustang RTR in the Top 8. The semi-final was against multiple Formula DRIFT champion Chris Forsberg driving his NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z on Nexen Tires. Forsberg put up a valiant fight but couldn’t resist Aasbo, who proved to be unstoppable until the final.

When Blušs met Aasbo it was a meteoric contest. Both drivers committed everything to the struggle and the judges once again requested “One More Time.” It would take one tiny mistake to separate them and eventually the decision went to Blušs.

“I’m exhausted but happy to be covered in champagne,” said Aasbo immediately after stepping from the podium. “This is exactly how I want to be after a night like this. I’m ecstatic that we broke our Atlanta curse – we haven’t done well here since 2012 but today we got on the podium and lost against the guy to beat. Kristaps (Blušs) totally deserved the win. He’s been at it for many years and his car was a rocketship. I’m super-relieved to be on the podium and stoked to extend my lead in the championship.”

For Kristaps Blušs it was an emotional moment to finally claim a Formula DRIFT Pro category win. “It feels really great to have achieved this. I had two One More Times against Wang before battling both Worthouse guys, who are crazy good. Fortunately, my Achilles tires performed well and I got to the Final with Fredric Aasbo. I’d battled with him five times before and always lost but finally I beat him. It feels crazy to be standing here and I’m going to try to maintain the momentum for the rest of the season.”

The excitement of Formula DRIFT Atlanta was summed up by FD president, Jim Liaw. “Road Atlanta never fails to excite. The fans are amazing and contribute so much to the energy of the event. What they bring is contagious and the drivers feel it – you see it on-track with amazing competition, which gave the judges a really hard time to pick a winner from some of the battles. This is why Road Atlanta has been on our calendar for the last 15 years. It’s a great place and the fans are awesome.”

Round Four: The Gauntlet takes place in Wall, NJ on June 1-2. Visit formulad.com for event details, ticket purchases, driver profiles and Livestream information.

PRO2 CHAMPIONSHIP
Road Atlanta hosted the opening round of the 2018 Link ECU Formula DRIFT Pro2 Championship. A full field battled for the top step of the podium and Travis Reeder (USA) put everybody on notice by qualifying first in his Achilles Radial Nissan 240SX. He would defeat Crick Filippi (USA) in his Fitzgerald Glider Kits / Nexen Tire USA Nissan S13 in the Top 16 run-off, and then Kelsey Rowlings in his Top 1 Oil / Achilles Radial Nissan S14 in the Top 8. Travis’ run would eventually be halted by second place qualifier, Dylan Hughes (USA) in his Advanced Auto Parts / Nexen Tire Nissan S13.

For his part, Hughes had to overcome Adam Knapik (Poland) in the Knapik Racing / Achilles Radial Nissan S14 in the Top 16 before meeting Kenric Meyer (USA) in his BC Racing / Achilles Radial BMW M3 in the Top 8.

Hughes would eventually lose the final to Ola Jaeger (Norway) who was driving his Team Japan Auto / Nexen Tire Toyota Supra. Having qualified fourth, Ola first met Trenton Beechum (USA) in the Roush Performance / Nexen Tire Ford Mustang. Trenton had finished third in the 2018 Motegi Super DRIFT Challenge in Long Beach last month but couldn’t hold off Jaeger, who would subsequently beat Andy Hately (USA) in the Hateley Motorsports / Achilles Radial / BMW E30 before reaching and defeating Dylan Hughes in the Final.

“It’s been a long day,” said a relieved Ola Jaeger after the Link ECU Pro2 podium celebrations. “I had been a little concerned coming into the weekend but my confidence increased battle by battle. I’m delighted to have beaten Dylan (Hughes), who is among the best in the Pro2. To win each of those battles felt unreal, and I’m delighted to be standing here after the team worked so hard all winter. We’re really looking forward to the remainder of the season and hope for continued success.”

Jim Liaw, Formula DRIFT president, was also extremely happy with the outcome: “After developing the Pro2 category for so many seasons, it’s really hitting its stride now. Last season ended well with tough, close competition, and today’s Top 16 was super-exciting and competitive, which is a great sign for the future of the Link ECU Pro2 Championship. We’re definitely looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Round Two of the Link ECU Pro2 Championship takes place at Round Six of the Formula DRIFT series in St Louis, MO on August 10-11. Pro2 then moves on to Dallas, TX on September 14-15 and culminates at the series Finals in Irwindale, CA on October 12-13.

Visit formulad.com for event details, ticket purchases, driver profiles and Livestream information.

2018 FORMULA DRIFT CHAMPIONSHIP

Top 16 finishing places from FD Atlanta

To view the Top 32 finishers, click here:
formulad.com/results/2018/road-atlanta/pro
Top FivePro Championship standings after three rounds

To view the 2018 Pro Championship standings, click here:
formulad.com/standings/2018/pro

Top Five Pro2Championship standings after one round

To view the 2018 Pro2 Championship standings, click here:
formulad.com/results/2018/road-atlanta/pro2

Top FiveAuto Cup standings after three rounds

To view the 2018 Auto Cup standings, click here:
formulad.com/standings/2018/pro
Tire Cup standings after three rounds

To view the 2018 Tire Cup standings, click here:
formulad.com/standings/2018/pro

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/kristaps-bluss-scores-first-formula-drift-victory-at-road-atlanta/


Third-straight Formula Drift podium for Fredric Aasbo


From Papadakis Racing

Driver leads points after Road Atlanta as series approaches mid-season

BRASELTON, Georgia (May 13, 2018) – Fredric Aasbo earned another podium at Road Atlanta this weekend, facing down fierce rivals to reach the final round. Aasbo has now stood on every step of the podium this year and leads the championship points as the 2018 season approaches its mid-point.

“I am ecstatic to break the curse here at Road Atlanta and beat some heavy hitters,” said Aasbo, who has earned mixed results on the challenging road course over the past several years. “I feel great and I am absolutely worn out.”

Aasbo landed in second after the final head-to-head battle of the night against rival Kristaps Bluss went to a One More Time round.

“Kristaps and I have a history of going all out against each other. We end up with pushed in doors and scarred race cars,” said Aasbo. “When you get a One More Time against the fastest car and most hungry driver in the sport, you know it’s going to be an amazing battle.”

The fans who packed into Road Atlanta were thrilled to see the competition come down to a no-holds-barred rematch between the two drivers. In the end, Aasbo would record a second-place result and extend his lead in the championship points.

Aasbo is the most-winning driver in Formula Drift history, but he has never earned victory at Road Atlanta. Balancing blistering performance against the risk of error paved his way to the podium this year.

Earlier, Aasbo locked in the No. 3 qualifying position to earn a bye past the opening bracket. In the Top 16, he received a unanimous decision to advance past Dan Burkett and then faced down Chelsea Denofa in the Great 8. He battled past champion Chris Forsberg to reach the final.

“It was great to see Fredric have a redemption at this track to extend our points lead,” said team owner Stephan Papadakis. “The top-three drivers in the standings are all champions and we have to bring our A-game to every round.”

The Atlanta event saw a typically packed house, and a lively online audience tuned in worldwide to enjoy the action. Recently released attendance numbers from last month’s opener showed 20,000 fans filled the seats of Long Beach, with 1.7 million tune-ins to the series’ popular livestream. Packaged content picked up another three million views across social channels including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.

Next, the series celebrates its 100th event in Wall, New Jersey (June 1-2). Aasbo has won twice in New Jersey, scoring his first career victory there in 2014 and following it up with another win in 2015, en route to the championship title that year.

Drifting is a high-skill, high-powered motorsport with an emphasis on car control. In the Formula Drift series, drivers compete in knockout heats on a closed course, sliding sideways in trials judged on speed and style. With origins in Japan, it is one of the fastest growing forms of motorsport in the world. Fans of Formula Drift can watch live stream coverage of the series online, or catch the broadcast coverage on the CBS Sports Network.


Third podium in three rounds for Fredric Aasbo at Road Atlanta this weekend.
(Photo: Larry Chen / Toyota Racing)

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/third-straight-formula-drift-podium-for-fredric-aasbo/


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