SWD Blog

It’s Two Wins in a Row for Team FALKEN’s James Deane as He Dominates Formula Drift’s Evergreen Speedway

Teammates Piotr Wiecek takes 3rd place; Justin Pawlak, 4th

MONROE, WA (July 21, 2018) – Team Falken’s James Deane continued his winning ways by earning his second victory in a row in the 2018 Black Magic Formula Drift Pro Championship at Evergreen Speedway, increasing his lead in the Driver’s Championship with three events remaining. Teammate Piotr Wiecek took third place, solidifying his position at third overall, while Justin Pawlak placed fourth at Evergreen, putting him fifth in the tight overall points battle.

“After what seemed like our ‘summer break,’ Team Falken came back roaring, with James Deane repeating at Evergreen and taking his second win this season,” said Steve Wong, Falken’s Supervisor, Passenger Car Motorsports Events. “James continues to run strong, scoring points in his defense of the Formula Drift Driver’s Championship.”

It was Falken’s fourth series of podium finishes this season out of five rounds. “Falken’s AZENIS RT615K+ tires are performing well,” added Wong, “and our team of drivers are more determined than ever to run to the finals.”

Thirty-two drivers entered Evergreen Speedway, known as the “House of Drift of the North,” with 30 qualifying. Wiecek qualified first, followed by Pawlak in 3rd, Deane in 4th and additional Falken teammates Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis in 6th; Daijiro “Dai” Yoshihara in 10th; Matt Field, 12th; Ken Gushi, 13th; and Jeff Jones in 17th.

All eight Team Falken drivers advanced to the Top 16, with four continuing on to the Top 8. From there, teammates Deane and Field faced off, with Deane taking the win, while both Wiecek and Pawlak advanced.

Before a capacity crowd, Deane squared off against teammate Wiecek, while Ryan Tuerck eliminated Pawlak. Deane returned the favor by beating Tuerck in the Final.

“Seattle [Evergreen] was another tough round,” Deane noted, adding “the level is for sure stepping up this year.”

Describing his move through the rounds, Deane stated, “my absolute favorite battle this weekend was with teammate Matt Field. He’s very aggressive and I knew he was on my door throughout the bank, but I took a huge chance and it paid off and we ended up where we needed to be and pulled off a sweet run.”

Deane continued: “Wiecek was crazy fast; always a fun time with him. He dropped a couple of wheels and gave me an advantage, and so then I led, but he was pushing me around the whole bank. It was crazy as a driver to feel like I had extra power with him pushing me through the corner. Crazy driving, but I managed to get the win. And then into the final with Tuerck, it came down to technicalities. It was a really close battle. We pushed as hard as we could; didn’t make so many mistakes and I think that’s what got it for us.

“At the end, we’ve managed to extend our lead in the championship and it feels great,” Deane finished. “We had a little bit of luck, but we’ll take it where we can get it, because in the sport of drifting, you never know when it may turn.”

“James is now 85 points ahead of second place” Wong enthused, “and Wiecek is now 120 points behind. It’s still a close race. “We’ll continue this strong momentum as we head to St. Louis for Round 6. For now, Falken has a solid lead in the Tire Cup championship.”

The Top 10 standings for Formula Drift include Pawlak, 5th; Field, 8th; Bakchis, 9th; and Yoshihara, 10th, for a total of six Team Falken drivers.

Team Falken will travel south to St. Louis, MO for Round 6 when Formula D visits Gateway Motorsports Park, located across the state line in Madison, IL, August 10-11.

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/its-two-wins-in-a-row-for-team-falkens-james-deane-as-he-dominates-formula-drifts-evergreen-speedway/

Evergreen Speedway Top 10 Moments

Written by Joey Redmond of Wrecked Magazine

10. Can St. Louis Save the 2018 Championship Chase?

One of the most exciting things to happen in Formula Drift is when the whole series descends onto a new racetrack for the weekend. Coming up next is Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, Missouri. New tracks tend to do really well for specific drivers (Fredric Aasbo and Chris Forsberg comes to mind as drivers who tend to podium at new events) and other drivers need that build up of experience to perform. The two drivers that are on my mind are sitting behind James Deane and really need to podium and see Deane take an early exit to prevent the Deane repeat at this point.

9. Has Justin Pawlak Become the New King of the Ford Mustang?

Justin Pawlak finds himself comfortably in 5th place in the Formula Drift championship putting him 125 points ahead of the next Mustang driver in the field (Chelsea DeNofa in 14th with 159). While Justin isn’t likely the first driver you think of in the Formula Drift paddock when you hear Ford Mustang driver,, he is the one who of this group that is really performing on the track. He could easily land a top 3 championship spot this season depending on how he finishes up.

8. Cameron Moore Pulls Out a Hometown Edge

The Cameron Moore versus Jhonnattan Castro battle was actually one of my favorites of the weekend. It was a very well balanced battle between two guys in the same chassis with different motor setups. While it wasn’t the blockbuster battle of the season, it was nice watching two guys really duke it out in what ended up as a 2 OMT battle. The second OMT was crazy because both drivers spun as they were pushing so hard to win. I think at any other track Castro might have edged out Moore. Cameron Moore ended up looking much more comfortable at his local track of Evergreen Speedway than we have seen him at other venues around the country giving him a small edged that pushed him into Top 16.

7. Chris Forsberg’s Throttle Body Makes Championship Slip Away

Racing is something that always comes down to the smallest of margins and this one really hurts the Chris Forsberg Racing team. A Top 32 exit in a battle versus Matt Coffman slung Chris Forsberg 124 points behind James Deane. After a season with mechanical issues plaguing the team,, this one must really hurt deep. You would think after winning his first event in 1,485 days in Orlando he was going to push his momentum to challenge Deane but that has stalled out. Forsberg and team will need a really good St. Louis performance to get back in the championship chase.

6. Jeff Jones is Growing in Confidence with his 370z

Jeff Jones was in rare form this weekend at Seattle. He was feeling good and you could just see it and hear it in his voice. From doing Fortnite dances in the back of Matt Field’s interview, to his pure gold interview with Laurette Nicoll, he was having a great time. He even backed that confidence up on the track in his Nissan 370z by defeating former champion Michael Essa in the Top 32 and giving Piotr Wiecek a decent run for his money in Top 16. He got a big monkey off his back by making it to the Top 16 at Evergreen Speedway for the first time. His team had serious subframe cracking issues all weekend making his accomplishments even more impressive.

5. The Revenge of Ryan Tuerck

Ryan Tuerck, Gumout / Nexen Tire Toyota GT86

Ryan Tuerck tends to have these unique moments when his car is working right and he looks like the drifting destroyer we all remember him to be from his Nissan 240sx days. You tend to see it early in the event when all is going right for him and coming together. His last podium was last season in Long Beach and that was another time when everything was plugging away for him and his Toyota 86. He couldn’t manage to take it all the way and lost to James Deane for the fourth time in a row (0-4 all time record) and will clearly be looking for revenge against Deane before this season is over.

4. Do car issues come from midseason wear or rough New Jersey conditions?

So many teams struggled with serious vehicle malfunctions this weekend it made me wonder is Wall Speedway in New Jersey that rough of a track or is the mid-season taking its toll on teams and vehicles? Forrest Wang suffered an engine failure that prevented him from even qualifying over the weekend and he is a driver who always seems to make it into the big show no matter what. Forsberg and his throttle bodies, Jones and his subframe, and the list could go on and on. I think the fault lies in both issues, but I am going to pay more attention to events post Wall in the future season to see if the aftermath is teams having more car issues.

3. Chelsea DeNofa Steals the Show with his Chase Run

That chase run against Alex Heilbrunn is the Top 16 (roughly 4 hour 50 minute mark on the Main Event live video) was the chase battle of the weekend. Chelsea DeNofa is likely the best chase driver in the Formula Drift series at this point. He just needs to partner his wild and aggressive chase style with some better lead runs and qualifying pulls and he could be the Championship contender everyone has always felt he could be. It’s a bummer he blew his lead run against Heilbrunn because I would have loved to see that chase against Wiecek in the Great 8.

2. Daigo Hints at a US Return on Facebook?

Just after the event on Monday, Daigo Saito took to his Facebook fan page and posted this “またアメリカ走りたいな。懐かしい!” which Facebook roughly translated to “I’d like to run in America again. I miss it!” His post even included the “Call Me Maybe” video made by 1Kind back a few seasons ago. Daigo already made a huge arrival seasons ago with his SC430 and started the Horsepower Wars of Formula Drift that are still going on today. Perhaps, a 2019 return is in order and we could see him battle it out with the newly arrived Worthouse team for Drifting world supremacy and bragging rights.

1. James Deane Goes Back to Back

James Deane is already the ninth most winning driver in Formula Drift history after only competing in 17 Formula Drift events. He just finished a back-to-back victory session with New Jersey and Seattle putting him firmly 85 points ahead of Fredric Aasbo in the Championship Chase. If James Deane can keep this level of performance up he will be just the second driver in history to win back to back championships following in the footsteps of drifting icon Tanner Foust who accomplished this feat in the 2007-2008 season.

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/evergreen-speedway-top-10-moments/


Returning from the summer break, the 2018 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship headed to Seattle, WA for Round Five: Autozone Throwdown presented by Rain-X. With the first half of the season over, and one of the most competitive driver line ups ever seen in the sport, it is time for teams to make a push to the Finals at Irwindale Speedway in October. And with only 39 points separating the top three places, there is still everything to play for.

As the event got underway, Formula DRIFT was delighted to announce it had signed a new three-year deal with the operators of Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. This has secured the future of FD Seattle at the venue it has used successfully since 2005. “We’re so excited to have signed this three-year deal,” said Jim Liaw, Formula DRIFT president. “Our entire organization, the teams and fans love coming here. There’s always tremendous energy in the grandstands and the paddock, which gives the event its own special personality.”

Warm sunshine greeted the teams for Friday qualifying, but dark clouds could be seen over two areas in the pits. One of these was because Forrest Wang (USA) had to watch helplessly while his team raced to swap the engine on his Vapetasia / Achilles Radial / NRG Innovations Nissan S15. Miraculously, they completed the task in time but the engine failed to start, meaning Wang, who finished second at the opening round in Long Beach, CA would fail to qualify.

Similarly, Austin Meeks (USA) didn’t qualify his Committed Service Brand / Achilles Radial Nissan S14.5. This would give the top two qualifiers bye rounds in the Top 32 heats on Saturday.

That advantage fell to Piotr Wiecek (Poland) in the Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15, who qualified first, and Kristaps Blušs, who qualified his HGK / Achilles Radial / MAST Motorsports / BMW E92 “Eurofighter” in second place.

As in previous rounds, qualifying was incredibly tight. On this occasion, Piotr scored two points more than Kristaps over his two runs to take first place. In turn, Kristaps had an identical score to third placed Justin “JTP” Pawlak (USA) driving the Roush Performance / Falken Tires 2018 Ford Mustang. The drivers were only separated by a single style point in the end.

Qualifying fourth was Piotr’s teammate, James Deane in his identical Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15. He placed in front of fifth place Fredric Aasbo (Norway) in the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla, who matched the Irishman’s first run points tally but withdrew from the second run with head gasket problems. Having led the FD Pro standings for the first three rounds, Aasbo’s recent inconsistency is understandably concerning for him but you can never count out the Norwegian nor Papadakis Racing.

Saturday would see the first repeat winner crowned in the 2018 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship. Such has been the ferocity of the competition that different drivers have stood on the top step in every previous round until now. However, the early interest in Seattle was focused on two local drivers who had the Washington crowd on the edge of their seats. Star of the show was Matt Coffman from Central Point, OR driving the Coffman Racing / Thunderbolt Racing Fuel / Achilles Radial Nissan 240SX S13. He was intent on improving his previous best finishing position for 2018, which saw him reach the Top 16 at the opening round in Long Beach.

Coffman’s first match-up was against 2009, 2014 and 2016 FD Champion Chris Forsberg (USA) in the NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z on Nexen Tires. Forsberg had plenty of momentum following a win in Orlando and a podium in Atlanta. The smart money was on the NOS Energy Drink driver but Forsberg encountered problems with a loss of power during the run. This caused Coffman to collide with the stricken Nissan 370Z on the banking during the first run. Both drivers took a five-minute technical timeout to make repairs, but a repeat of the problem in the second run handed Coffman the win.

Heading into the Top 16, Coffman faced off against Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis (Lithuania) in the Falken Tires / Maxxoil / Drifz Wheels Nissan S14. With Odi recording consistent results all season, including fourth place in New Jersey, Coffman was again the underdog but overcame the Lithuanian to advance again.

Reaching the Great 8, Coffman’s phenomenal performance would be halted by Justin Pawlak, who’s had a solidly season in the Roush Performance / Falken Tires 2018 Ford Mustang. Justin would eliminate the hometown favorite and finish fourth overall after losing in the Final 4 to eventual second-place finisher Ryan Tuerck.

Pawlak was fortunate to reach the Final 4 following an exciting encounter in the Top 16 with 2010 FD Champion Vaughn Gittin Jr in the Monster Energy / Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR. During the first run, Gittin Jr would collide with Pawlak at the final clipping point. It was a tight turn that caught out drivers all weekend. The impact was hard enough to break Gittin Jr’s tie-rod arm and cause him to collide with the wall after crossing the finish line. Unable to repair the Mustang RTR in time, Gittin Jr handed the win to Pawlak whose car was undamaged.

With intense battles going on throughout the heats, another local boy in the points hunt at FD Seattle was Cameron Moore from Battle Ground, WA driving the Cameron Moore Drift / Falken Tire Toyota GT86. He vanquished Jhonnattan Castro (Dominican Republic) in the GPP / Toyota Racing Falken 86 in the Top 32 heat after an epic battle. With nothing to choose between the two drivers, the judges would call for “One More Time” not once but twice. This meant they ran a total of six times and the crowd was ecstatic when the decision went to Moore. Sadly, he would succumb to Kristaps Blušs in the Top 16, but the spectators were whipped into a frenzy as Moore and Coffman performed at the highest level.

Away from the local heroes, FD Seattle belonged to the Worthouse Team of James Deane (Ireland) and Piotr Wiecek (Poland). Their identical Worthouse / Falken Tire Nissan Silvia S15s would finish first and third, respectively.

Deane’s route to the top step saw him meet Kyle Mohan (USA) in the KMR / American Ethanol / Mazdatrix 2016 Mazda MX-5 in the Top 32, and then Kenshiro Gushi (Japan) in his GPP Toyota Racing / Falken Tire Toyota 86 in the Top 16.

For the Great 8, Deane would encounter Matt Field (USA) in the Wish / Borla / Falken Tire Chevrolet Corvette. Field was lucky to reach this stage after a collision with 2015 FD Champion Fredric Aasbo in the Top 16. Driving the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla, Aasbo had slowed into one of the clipping zones, causing Field to make contact. This put Aasbo down on points, which he was unable to overcome on the second run.

Field would fall to Deane in the Great 8, and the 2017 FD Champion faced his teammate, Piotr Wiecek, in the Final 4. With two on-form drivers in identical cars, the competition was nail-bitingly close but the decision went to Deane.

The Irishman moved onto the final against Tuerck and again both drivers were almost inseparable. With the crowd calling for “One More Time” the judges narrowly ruled in favor of Deane, who would climb to the top step of the podium and extend his lead over Aasbo in the 2018 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship by 85 points.

“This win was no easy task,” said a typically understated James Deane after the podium celebrations. “There were some incredibly close battles this weekend. Everybody was fighting extremely hard but we had some luck with our toughest opponents making small mistakes. This helped us to the win but I kept it consistent, and it’s a great feeling to be increasing my advantage in the championship. The pressure is on us to continue the progress but it’s all good.”

Ryan Tuerck was delighted with his second place after an extended absence from the podium. “It feels like a long time since I was last here so we’re all very excited. This really boosts morale and confidence after the team worked so hard during the break to resolve all the small problems we had with the car. We got the car dialed-in early this weekend and I just tried to be consistent. The only mistakes I made were against James (Deane), which I’m really bummed about because he doesn’t leave any room for error. So we’re happy with the podium and looking forward to St Louis.”

We also caught up with Formula DRIFT president, Jim Liaw to get his views on the event: “We love the fans in the Pacific Northwest. They’re awesome and it’s what brought us here in 2005 and why we’ve stayed ever since. This is such a great venue and every year has been a capacity crowd. The operators have worked to improve the venue over the years and that’s why we signed a three-year extension to remain here until 2021 at least. We love it at Evergreen Speedway and we’re looking forward to coming back.”

Round Six of the 2018 Formula DRIFT Black Magic Pro Championship takes place in St Louis, MO on August 10-11. Visit formulad.com for event details, ticket purchases, driver profiles and Livestream information.


Top 16 finishing places from FD Seattle

To view the Top 32 finishers, click here:

Top Five Pro Championship standings after five rounds

To view the 2018 Pro Championship standings, click here:

Top five Auto Cup standings after five rounds

To view the 2018 Auto Cup standings, click here:

Tire Cup standings after five rounds

To view the 2018 Tire Cup standings, click here:

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/formula-drift-returns-to-the-west-coast-for-round-five-in-monroe-wa/

Fredric Aasbo holds second in Formula Drift standings

Next, team heads to new St. Louis venue.

MONROE, Washington (July 23, 2018) – Fredric Aasbo is holding on to second place in the battle for the 2018 Formula Drift title, chasing defending champion James Deane into the final three rounds of the series. Aasbo is 85 points back from his rival after a challenging event this weekend in the Pacific Northwest.

After sailing into a Top 5 qualifying spot, Aasbo advanced past series newcomer Federico Sceriffo to meet Matt Field in the Top 16. “We had a strong start to the weekend,” said Stephan Papadakis, owner of Papadakis Racing. “The car was performing well and Fredric made a great first qualifying run.”

But the team’s luck turned in the Round of 16 competition. As Aasbo squinted into the setting sun, he misjudged a turn and put two wheels off the course, then made contact with his rival during an attempt to get back on line. He wasn’t the only driver to struggle with the same issue and there were several upsets in early rounds.

“I lost my reference point to initiate the next corner,” said Aasbo. “Part of the challenge in this sport is trying to foresee the unknown. Even though others made the same mistake, it’s still a tough pill to swallow.”

Aasbo started the season with a victory at the opening round in Long Beach, California. He then went on to finish third in Florida for the second round, and second place at Road Atlanta, Georgia, setting up a strong position in the championship hunt.

Only a few short weeks remain before the sixth event of the calendar, in St. Louis, Missouri, August 10-11. The venue is a new one for the series, which Aasbo hopes will play to his advantage. The experienced driver spends his winters finding lines on frozen lakes and typically performs well on a new track.

Next, Aasbo is heading to Japan to the homeland of Toyota to take part in celebrations of the iconic AE86 Corolla before returning to the USA for the next round in the series.

Formula Drift enjoys a dedicated and engaged audience with sell-out crowds all season long. This season, each livestream broadcast is averaging more 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. An average of 2 million fans from around the world watched the popular live stream coverage from each round of the 2018 season. Broadcast coverage on the CBS Sports Network headlines packaged content that includes social channels Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

Fredric Aasbo holds second in Formula Drift standings after challenging weekend in Washington State (PHOTO: Toyota Racing)

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/fredric-aasbo-holds-second-in-formula-drift-standings/

Fredric Aasbo on the attack in Washington State

MONROE, Washington (July 19, 2018) – Formula Drift star Fredric Aasbo is in the Pacific Northwest this weekend ready to start the second half of the 2018 Formula Drift season with a performance that he hopes will vault him into the championship lead.

“We’ve had a great start to the season: maybe our best,” said Aasbo, who landed three podiums, including a victory, in the first half of the season. “At the same time, our competitors have really stepped it up. It’s going to be a wild showdown.”

Aasbo is looking forward to another weekend of close matches on the Evergreen Speedway oval. He considers the Seattle track one of his favourites and finished second here last year after a tight final battle with rival James Deane.

And as he and the Papadakis Racing team start their battle at Evergreen Speedway, they are sharing an inside look at the engine that powers the 1,000 horsepower Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla Hatchback that brought them their first victory of the season at Round 1.

Aasbo dominated the first half of the 2018 season until an error at the Wall, New Jersey, event knocked him out of the championship lead to a close second in the point standings. During the six-week midseason break, he returned overseas to battle it out on the European drift circuit and won four major events. He said he is ready to bring the momentum to this weekend’s contest, where precision will be paramount.

“Timing in the transitions at this event is really difficult,” said Aasbo. “The long right-hand corner to start can make the transition into the second and third corners a real challenge. Our new Corolla has proven really competitive, so I am confident we can really perform.”

Weather often plays a role at this round, with traction challenges posed by rain characteristic of the region. The forecast shows cool temperatures and a mix of sun and cloud but in the tight quarters between the Pacific and the mountains, conditions can change quickly.

Papadakis Racing enters this round after a mid-season vehicle refresh. The Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla Hatchback returned to the team’s Southern California home for upgrades to incorporate into the new car the lessons learned in the first half of the season.

“We know we have a car that can win events,” said team owner Stephan Papadakis. “Our focus is on staying consistent with the performance of the car. We need to do everything we can to help Fredric be even more comfortable with the way the car drives.”

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. An average of 2 million fans from around the world watched the popular live stream coverage from each round of the 2018 season. Broadcast coverage on the CBS Sports Network headlines packaged content that includes social channels Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/fredric-aasbo-on-the-attack-in-washington-state/


At the start of the year, Formula DRIFT was delighted to confirm its return to The House of Drift at Irwindale Speedway in Southern California for the Final Round on October 12/13, 2018. And today we’re happy to announce that tickets for the event go on sale Saturday 6/30/18 at 9:00AM PST / 12:00PM EST on formulad.com/schedule

The O’Reilly Auto Parts Title Fight presented by Rain X is guaranteed to be the best yet in the series’ 15-year history thanks to the incredibly close competition this season. The first four FD events have produced four different winners and the drivers know they have to perform at the highest level at every round and on every run. The close competition also means the title race is wide open, with five drivers within 100 points (or one win) of each other.

The entire Formula DRIFT organization is delighted to be returning to Irwindale because of its wonderful atmosphere thanks to the amphitheater created by the half-mile banked oval and the stadium seating. The popularity of the Final Round means tickets always sell-out in advance. Therefore, we recommend that Formula DRIFT fans purchase their tickets early to avoid disappointment.

As always, the Final Round takes place on Saturday night under the Irwindale spotlights. Tickets are available for Thursday and Friday practice as well. Fans additionally get to enjoy the on-site car show, vendor area, team paddock and more.

Jim Liaw, President of Formula DRIFT, is very excited to be returning to Irwindale: “Keeping track of the status of Irwindale Speedway over the past few years has been a rollercoaster ride as a change of ownership and redevelopment was threatened. But with the current management saving the track at the eleventh hour and securing a long-term agreement with the property owners, it gave us the opportunity to sign a three- year deal. We are delighted to continue ending our championship at the House of Drift, and this season is looking like it will be as exciting as ever.”

In the meantime, the 2018 Formula DRIFT season continues with Round Five: Autozone Throwdown presented by Rain-X takes place in Monroe, WA on July 20-21. Visit formulad.comfor event details, ticket purchases, driver profiles and Livestream information.

Article source: http://news.formulad.com/2018/fd-news/tickets-go-on-sale-for-2018-formula-drift-final-round-at-irwindale-speedway/


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/

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