Formula D Long Beach 2016: Top 16
[dropcap style=”style1″]I[/dropcap]t’s been nothing but show at the series kickoff for the 2016 Formula Drift season at Round One: Streets of Long Beach. Weather conditions have ranged from dry to wet to even more wet resulting in some surprises, crashes, excitement, and fierce competition from every corner as the competition has been narrowed down from 32 drivers to 16.
Our first run of the day was between former champion Fredric Aasbo and Shengjun Zhang. Despite some light contact, Aasbo left too much of a lead and into victory.
Keeping aggression in the second battle, Patrick Mordaunt put pressure on “Mad” Mike Whiddett, who wowed fans with his near spin recovery, resulting in the win.
Third run between Alec Hohnadell and Kristaps Bluss was a fast and smoky one! Hohnadell hits the final clip and hands the victory over.
Ryan Tuerk, slated for the fourth battle, lost oil pressure during practice but his team managed to reconstruct a bare long block just in time to race to victory after Juha Rintanen crashed into the tire wall on the first run of the battle.
Tyler Mcquarrie and Dai Yoshihara made for a fierce fifth battle. The new GT86 proved unwary for Yoshihara however, as he managed to drift inside the clip in the final corner in round one and lost his victory in the second session with a spin in the first corner.
The sixth run showcased Odi Bakchis and Alex Heilbrunn. After a false start and hitting the starting cones, newcomer Heilbrunn fought for the win as he and Bakchis showed off wide angles and close tandems. Heilbrunn was a little shallow and gave the victory to Bakchis, who drove just a little harder.
Dean Kearney and Jhonnattan Castro made up the seventh battle and filled fans with excitement as Kearney never fails to impress with his Viper. He drove fierce, keeping close and aggressive. Castro spun on the last corner and the Viper moves on.
The eighth run only upped the ante as rain poured down. Ken Gushi and Faruk Kugay fought conditions as much as each other. Gushi impressed with near wall clipping while Kugay hit the wall on the second run of the battle, causing him to spin.
The 10th run, featuring Patrick Goodin and Charles Ng, was clean despite a wall tap from Goodin. Charles Ng took the victory after a harder run.
Thunder sang while fan favorite Forrest Wang and Matt Coffman clashed in the 11th round. Both runs had fans on the edge of their seat while Wang clipped walls, cones, and had near spin recoveries. Coffman, unable to recover from a spin in turn 2, lost the battle.
Round 12 was a delayed before Kenny Moen and Michael Essa took to the track and fought worsening conditions. A spin and crash on the first practice run threw Moen’s chance of victory out of the window. Essa took the win by default.
Chris Forsberg and Cameron Moore made up the 13th battle. Moore fought impressive and hard against Forsberg, mirroring his every move following him in the first session of the battle. An impressive two wall-clips in the second session led to a climatic spin and near-miss accident between the two drivers. Victory went to Forsberg.
Geoff Stoneback crashed in practice but was able to get the car back and running for the 14th run against Chelsea DeNofa, but a spin in the first round caused Stoneback the victory.
Run 15 between Justin Pawlak and Jeff Jones remained steady. Pawlak ran shallow lined on the second run and hit the last clip almost hitting Jones. Jones finished with very strong angles and display.
The last run making up the top 16 featured Vaughn Gitten Jr. and Robbie Nishida. Gitten Jr. placed his mark gracefully clipping walls with the tail of his Mustang in practice and competition. Easily one of the best runs of the day, the RTR preformed well. Nishida fought hard, but not hard enough, losing shape in the second round and caused him the victory.
Going into the Great Eight are the following drivers:
Vaughn Gitten Jr.