2016 Formula Drift Montreal Top 32 Play-by-Play
Formula Drift ventures north of the US/Canada border for the third consecutive year, but this time, the stop at Autodrome Saint Eustache will count towards the Formula Drift Pro Championship for the first time. In 2014, the first visit to the track was a demo round, with a handful of FD drivers competing against the Canadian driver roster. In 2015, the event counted towards the Formula Drift World Championship, and 10 drivers ventured North to compete, but Fredric Aasbo walked away with the event win on the way to claiming the first ever Formula Drift World Championship. For 2016, twenty eight of the thirty five drivers on the Formula Drift Pro roster made the trip, with notable absences from Kristaps Bluss, Alex Heilbrunn, Pat Mordaunt, Jeff Jones and Kenny Moen.
Autodrome Saint Eustache has become the iconic track in Canadian drifting lore, hosting events for both the former Drift Mania series as well as the current Formula Drift Canada series over the years. The four-tenths mile oval is run in counterclockwise rotation for drifting and has a layout very similar to Irwindale Speedway. Drivers enter the first turn after driving down the back straight at around 80 mph, riding the first turn sweeper as close to the wall as possible. Although the first turn looks like a perfect radius turn, the turn is oblong shaped and has a sharp point mid-turn due to a track entrance, which came out to bite a few drivers in practice and qualifying. After completing the first turn, drivers hit an inside clipping point along the traditional start-finish line, then briefly brush the outside wall again in a touch-and-go area before hitting the second turn sweeper in counter-clockwise orientation. After the second sweeper, drivers transition one last time and hit a final turn to end the track.
Leading up to qualifying, several drivers had incidents with the wall. Both fan favorite “Mad” Mike Whiddett and Tyler McQuarrie had crashes in practice that caused major damage. Dean Kearney also had several mechanical issues in practice, and his participation in qualifying was questionable at one point. Thankfully, all the drivers would make it to the qualifying line, although McQuarrie suffered a broken differential that ended his weekend.
With only 27 drivers earning a qualifying score, each of the top five qualifiers would have a bye run in the Top 32. Forrest Wang came back from a brief retirement to earn the top qualifying position with a score of 92 points out of 100, the only score in the 90’s. Ryan Tuerck and Justin Pawlak took second a third position, both scoring 89 points but Tuerck earning the higher mark by means of a tiebreaker. Fourth, fifth and sixth place were filled by Chelsea Denofa, Fredric Aasbo and Dai Yoshihara respectively, each of them earning 88 points on their best qualifying run, but Denofa earning the higher position again by means of tiebreaker.
While weather reports early in the week warned of rain all weekend, only a late afternoon shower in Thursday and Friday would damper the spirits of the fans. Saturday’s weather report is looking perfect for drifting with some early cloud cover that should clear up by mid-afternoon.
Fast forward to the Ford Top 16 or the Blackvue Final 4.
AIR FORCE TOP 32
Forrest Wang – Bye Run
WANG LEAD – Wang had a brief retirement after the last round, but returned after discussing the decision with Formula Drift officials. This marks his second consecutive top qualifier award, and he has looked much quicker this time round than in previous rounds. Wang makes a solid pass with plenty of style, but possibly a little less than 100%. Wang has been to all three events at this track in the past, so his experience at this track may give him an advantage in the competition.
Andrew Gray vs. Geoff Stoneback
GRAY LEAD – Stoneback gets aggressive right on entry, possibly touching Gray before backing off and ending up around three car lengths behind Gray. Good smoke and steering angle from Gray, Stoneback slowly closes the gap down to around two car lengths for the second half of the course. Replay shows that Stoneback had a pretty big steering correction just before the contact and again just after the contact and will likely be at a slight disadvantage.
STONEBACK LEAD – Both drivers are pretty fast on entry, Gray is around two car lengths behind Stoneback through the inside clip. Gray transitions early after the first inner clip across the start-finish line, and is way off line for the second sweeper. Gray also knocks over the final clipping point, but very lightly. All three judges vote "One More Time."
ONE MORE TIME
GRAY LEAD – Stoneback again looks a little shaky after initiation, with a few steering corrections, that will likely be a deduction. Gray has a good lead with a good line around the angle, Gray transitioned late through the switchback and doesn’t fill the touch and go. Gray has made a mistake on almost every run in the switchback, and is off the line around the final inside clip. Both drivers made mistake; it’s unclear who’s mistakes were bigger.
STONEBACK LEAD – Stoneback looks much smoother on his initiation this time around and has a good line and angle on the sweeper. Gray again transitions a bit late on the switchback and can’t fill the touch and go, but keeps around two car lengths of proximity through most of the course. Stoneback lightly nudges the final inside clipping point, but doesn’t knock if over. All three judges vote for a “One More Time” again.
ONE MORE TIME x2
GRAY LEAD – Stoneback again shaky on the initiation, big angle from Gray exiting the sweeper and through the switchback with a much smoother line overall. Stoneback keeps around two car lengths of proximity around most of the course, closing it down to around a single car length midway through the second sweeper. Gray takes out the final clipping point.
STONEBACK LEAD – Stoneback looks a little slow to angle on initiation, but much smoother overall. Gray was shaky on initiation, but closes the gap to Stoneback midway through the sweeper. Stoneback opens up the gap across the switchback and through the second sweeper, Gray takes out the switchback cone, and can’t make up much ground on Stoneback over the second portion of the course. Gray slides off course around the final corner and takes out the outside cone on an inside clip; that seems like a major mistake. All three judges vote for Stoneback.
Odi Bakchis vs. Mad Mike Whiddett
BAKCHIS LEAD – Bakchis is close to the wall through the first sweeper, Whiddett loses proximity and ends up on a shallow through most of the sweeper. Whiddett closes the gap and gets back on the proper line, closing gap around one car length behind Bakchis. Bakchis taps the final clipping point, but the major mistakes from Whiddett will leave him at a fairly large disadvantage.
WHIDDETT LEAD – Whiddett much closer to the wall after initiation, Whiddett taps the rear of the wall about one third of the way through the sweeper and loses drift. Bakchis maintains drift and gets around Whiddett and finishes the run as the lead car. Whiddett gets the car sideways again and falls in line behind Bakchis, giving the fans a show for the second half of the course, but Bakchis will earn the unanimous decision.
Matt Field vs. Cameron Moore
FIELD LEAD – Moore around three car lengths back on initiation, but closes it down to around two car lengths by midway through the sweeper. Field has much better angle on the switchback, Moore on the shallower line to try and close the proximity to Field again. Field finishes around four car lengths ahead of Moore with much more angle.
MOORE LEAD – Moore with a few steering corrections shortly after initiation, Field looks much smoother, As the drivers exit the first sweeper, Moore straightens out and loses drift, there may have been contact between him and Field. Both drivers cruise the back straight off throttle, judges will need to identify fault. After a few replays, it appears that Field just misjudged the speed from Moore and hit him from behind. Moore will be moving on to his first Top 16 appearance of his rookie season!
Chelsea DeNofa – Bye Run
DENOFA LEAD – DeNofa takes a parade lap around the course at around 15 miles per hour, waving at the crowd. We’d like to see a full pull from him, but understand that he’s saving the car for competition.
Matt Coffman vs. Charles Ng
COFFMAN LEAD – Coffman has an early initiation, while Ng is much later to getting his car sideways. Coffman has good angle through the first sweeper while Ng is much shallower on his steering angle. Coffman dumps huge angle at the switchback in front of the fans, but doesn’t get out to the touch-and-go section before the second sweeper. Coffman throws big angle again around the final turn, while Ng takes out the final inner clip. Likely an advantage to Coffman entering the second run.
NG LEAD – Ng has a shaky initiation, Coffman closes the gap quickly after initiation and adjusts nicely to Ng’s adjustments. Ng accelerates across the switchback and opens up a three car gap, Coffman takes the inside line through the sweeper to suck in tight to Ng again. Ng opens up the gap again through the second sweeper, but Coffman sucks in tight around the final turn. One vote for a “One More Time,” two votes for Coffman. Coffman earns the win!
Fredric Aasbo – Bye Run
AASBO LEAD – Aasbo makes a full pass around the course, giving the fans some tire smoke. Aasbo won the World Championship round here last year and definitely has a lot of fans here in Canada!
Pat Goodin vs. Robbie Nishida
GOODIN LEAD – Goodin pulls to the line, but Nishida is nowhere to be found. Goodin has a bye run and makes a full pass to get used to the course, he will face the defending event champion as well as the defending series champion in the Top 16.
Ryan Tuerck – Bye Run
TUERCK LEAD – Tuerck makes a full pass, his car constantly sounds like it’s backfiring due to the anti-lag system. His Scion FR-S definitely looks dialed in this weekend, and as a previous DMCC champion, he has much more experience at this track than many other drivers.
Kyle Mohan vs. Ken Gushi
MOHAN LEAD – Mohan with a great line through the sweeper, high along the wall, while Gushi remains just a car length or two behind him. Gushi stays close through the switchback, both of these cars look very dialed in. Mohan is pumping out more tire smoke from his MX-5 than we’ve seen at some of the previous rounds, but Gushi is handling it well. Gushi dives in around the final turn and keeps the proximity close, but takes out the final clipping point. Great run from both drivers!
GUSHI LEAD – Gushi with an early initiation, Mohan is around three car lengths back through the sweeper and can’t make up much of the gap through the rest of the course. Gushi has a bit of a conservative line around the track, but the gap in proximity will likely sway the judges towards Gushi. Mohan’s car looked great in the lead, but looked to have lacked grip in chase. Gushi earns the win.
Alec Hohnadell vs. Faruk Kugay
HOHNADELL LEAD – Hohnadell initiates around four car lengths ahead of Kugay, but Kugay slowly closes the gap down to around two car lengths by the exit of the sweeper due in most part to a shallower line. Hohnadell had great line and angle through the rest of the course, Kugay doesn’t get too aggressive until the final corner, but doesn’t make many major mistakes. Hohnadell’s lead run looks very solid and he likely has an advantage.
KUGAY LEAD – Kugay isn’t as high on the bank as Hohnadell was, but has some good steering angle through the sweeper. Hohnadell maintains good proximity despite Kugay’s corrections, Kugay has huge steering angle after the switchback, Hohnadell adjusts well given the conditions. Kugay’s line looks very difficult to follow, and he misses the outer clip after the second sweeper entirely. Hohnadell takes out the final inner clip, but that doesn’t appear to be as much of a mistake as Kugay’s corrections. All three judges give the win to Hohnadell.
Chris Forsberg vs. Jhonnattan Castro
FORSBERG LEAD – These two drivers used to be teammates last season, but Castro is now driving with Papadakis Racing for this season. Forsberg has won both of the previous matchups between these drivers in the past. Forsberg with a great line high on the wall, Castro has good proximity through the sweeper. Castro takes out the inner clip on the switchback due to transitioning too early, but maintains good proximity through the rest of the course. Forsberg finishes the course smoothly, although he taps the final clipping point. Overall, this looks like a fairly even run, possibly a slight advantage to Forsberg.
CASTRO LEAD – Castro jumped the start line, which counts as a strike against him and we have a restart. Forsberg initiates just inches from Castro, then backs off to give some room. Forsberg stays tight on Castro through the switchback, and stays tight on Castro through the second sweeper. At one point, it looks like there might have been contact between the cars because they were slow close, but neither car seems affected. Castro transitions a little early around the final turn and takes out the final inner clip, that might be the mistake that Forsberg needed to earn the win. All three judges vote for Forsberg; overall this was probably the tightest battle between these two drivers that we’ve seen to date.
Justin Pawlak – Bye Run
PAWLAK LEAD – Pawlak doesn’t know how to take a parade lap and throws down a huge run with tons of steering angle and tire smoke. His initiation into the first corner is one of the best we’ve seen all weekend; it will be exciting to see him battle against another driver in the Top 16!
Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. Michael Essa
GITTIN JR. LEAD – Gittin Jr. initiates around two car lengths ahead of Essa, but that gap quickly closes down to around a single car length. Gittin Jr. taps the rear end on the wall, but powers through the contact. Essa taps the wall shortly behind him, then taps Gittin Jr, then taps the wall with the front end of the car. Essa’s BMW comes to a halt midway through the sweeper, but Gittin Jr. is able to continue through the rest of the course.
Essa’s car will need a tow off the course. It would be tough to see him come back from this damage, but crazier things have happened.
ESSA LEAD – Essa is unable to fix his car, so Gittin Jr. will earn the Top 16 appearance.
Dai Yoshihara vs. Juha Rintanen
YOSHIHARA LEAD – Yoshihara has a good initiation, Rintanen sucks in close to him on initiation but loses proximity quickly and takes the low line through most of the sweeper. Yoshihara extends his lead through the switchback, Rintanen stays around four car lengths behind Yoshihara through the second half of the course. Yoshihara doesn’t have the best line, but is much smoother in his steering inputs through the course.
RINTANEN LEAD – Rintanen has a much better line through the sweeper, Yoshihara is on the shallower line, this looks like a bit of a conservative run from Yoshihara. Rintanen has a good run overall, Yoshihara over-rotates on the switchback and has to make a correction to maintain drift. Rintanen stays smooth through the final two turns. Both drivers had pretty big mistakes in chase, it will be interesting to see how the judges decipher a winner. All three judges vote for “One More Time”, likely due to the overall sloppiness from the drivers.
ONE MORE TIME
YOSHIHARA LEAD – Rintanen surges forward shortly after initiation and closes the gap a little too aggressively, having to slam on the brakes to avoid the collision. Rintanen recovers with very shallow angle and continues through the sweeper. Yoshihara is a bit off the optimal line on a few of the clips, but has a much smoother run overall than the previous set of battles. Rintanen drops a tire off course near the finish line, which is another deduction.
Rintanen calls a competition timeout to look over his car.
RINTANEN LEAD – Rintanen taps the rear of the car against the wall midway through the sweeper, Yoshihara adjusts nicely and takes the lower line to get around Rintanen in full drift. Rintanen recovers well and finishes the course in drift, but as the chase car instead of the lead. Yoshihara finishes the run smoothly and earns the unanimous decision.
Marc Landerville vs. Dean Kearney
LANDREVILLE LEAD – Landreville is the lone Canadian competing this weekend. Landeville has a pair of false starts due to jumping the starting lights, a third one would net him a zero for the run. There we have it! A third red flag in a row. This is the first time this has ever happened in Formula Drift competition. Landreville will get a zero for the run, and will have to become the chase driver. Not sure what happened here, but rules are rules.
KEARNEY LEAD – Kearney had a clean run in lead, perhaps a little off a few of the clipping points but overall a clean run. Landreville has a good chase run, but since he earned a zero on the first run, it won’t be enough to earn the victory. All three judges vote for Kearney.
FORD TOP 16
Prior to drivers introductions, we hear the Canadian National Anthem, known as “Oh Canada”. For those who have been to a professional hockey game, you’ve probably heard the song before. Each of the top 16 drivers is introduced, then we have burnouts and donuts to get the crowd hyped up. The Montreal crowd is known for being rowdy, and their cheers during top 16 introductions are pretty loud! We’re excited to see how this all goes down.
Wang vs. Stoneback
WANG LEAD – Wang’s car is a bit slower to angle than Stoneback, but both drivers enter the first turn around a single car length away from each other. Wang is on the high line along the wall, while Stoneback is on a slightly shallower line. Midway through the sweeper, Stoneback has extremely shallow steering angle and might have completely lost drift. Wang brushes his back bumper at the exit of the sweeper, drags it along the switchback, then sheds it before the second sweeper. Stoneback has a very shallow line into the second touch-and-go while Wang is on a banger of a lap. Wang finishes the course strong, while Stoneback loses drift again around the final turn.
STONEBACK LEAD – Stoneback has a much smoother lead run, with a good initiation and on a much higher line. Wang is about a car length or two back through the entire sweeper, both drivers transition smoothly across the switchback, and enter the second turn with around two car lengths between them. Stoneback has good line and angle around the final two turns, but his lackluster chase run was his undoing. Wang moves on to the Top 8.
Bakchis vs. Moore
BAKCHIS LEAD – Bakchis enters the first corner smoothly, Moore gets his car sideways briefly, then has a major adjustment to keep the car sideways through the first part of the sweeper. Bakchis is very close to the wall while Moore is much shallower on his line. Moore has good angle through the switchback, but is down on speed and has to make another major steering correction entering the second sweeper. Bakchis is running away with a good clean lead run, although he tapped the final clipping point, likely a major advantage to Bakchis.
MOORE LEAD – Moore has a much smoother entry on his lead, Bakchis is about two car lengths back, likely leaving some space due to how uncertain Moore looked on his chase. Moore again throws big angle on the switchback, Bakchis adjusts well, then there’s big contact between the drivers midway through the second sweeper and Bakchis spins out. Going back to the acceleration / deceleration map that was presented in the drivers meeting, Moore was off throttle in an acceleration zone, and is considered at-fault for the contact. Bakchis moves on to the Great 8.
DeNofa vs. Coffman
DENOFA LEAD – DeNofa is said to be having car issues, which perhaps explains why he took it easy on his bye run in Top 32. Coffman takes a bye run into the Top 8, a career best finish for Coffman. It sucks to see a driver like DeNofa win the first event of the season, then have car issues the rest of the season and not really able to compete for a championship.
Aasbo vs. Goodin
AASBO LEAD – Aasbo gets the car sideways quickly entering the first turn while Goodin is still straight well past the initiation point. Goodin finally gets the car sideways, but is around four car lengths back from Aasbo. Both drivers look smooth across the switchback, then take the second sweeper nicely. Goodin goes wide around the final turn, and is likely at a big disadvantage for the second run.
GOODIN LEAD – Goodin has a much smoother lead run, but Aasbo doesn’t make any major mistakes. Goodin’s fate has been sealed by his lackluster chase run. All three judges vote for Aasbo to move into the Top 8.
Tuerck vs. Gushi
TUERCK LEAD – Both of these drivers have looked great this year, and over the years, Tuerck has beat Gushi in four of seven battles. This should be good! Tuerck rubs the wall shortly after initiation, Gushi is hot on his door and controls the proximity well. Gushi takes a slightly shallower line and keeps close proximity to Tuerck, both drivers transition to the switchback at almost the exact same time, Tuerck has much more angle at the touch-and-go and goes hard into the second sweeper. Gushi loses drift and cruises through the second sweeper, it looks like there’s likely a mechanical issue preventing him from continuing. Tuerck finishes the run strong.
Gushi calls his competition timeout to try and fix the car.
GUSHI LEAD – Gushi can’t fix the car in time; Tuerck will move on to the Great 8.
Hohnadell vs. Forsberg
HOHNADELL LEAD – Hohnadell has a smooth entry, Forsberg is a bit later to initiate but gets to angle very quickly and sucks in very tight to Honadell less than a car length away! Hohnadell dumps big angle near the end of the sweeper, Forsberg doesn’t have a shallow angle but looks much shallower next to Hohnadell. Both drivers hit the switchback smoothly and get deep into the touch-and-go, great proximity from Forsberg near the end of the sweeper. Hohnadell takes out the inside clip at the end of the second sweeper, Forsberg takes out the final inside clip. Wow, great chase run from Forsberg!
FORSBERG LEAD – Hohnadell jumps the light to keep up with Forsberg, which is allowed. Hohnadell has huge angle on initiation and gets very close to Forsberg, then has to back off slightly to avoid contact. Both drivers hit the switchback smoothly, Hohnadell is a bit off the clipping point, but his proximity is impressive. The second sweeper looks almost ideal to the first run, only with Hohnadell in chase. Forsberg again taps the final clipping point. Great run from both drivers, judges vote for a “One More Time”, and we completely agree! This has been the best tandem battle of the day so far!
ONE MORE TIME
HOHNADELL LEAD – Hohnadell with a manji entry, Forsberg knows what to expect and is less than a car length behind him. Both drivers mirror each other almost perfectly through the sweeper, with each making a minor steering correction, but very impressive. Hohnadell finishes the sweeper with slightly more angle, but Forsberg has impressive proximity. Hohnadell taps the clip on the switchback, the inner clip at the end of the second sweeper, and the final inner clip at the final turn, while Forsberg mimics the line almost perfectly through the entirety of the track.
FORSBERG LEAD – Forsberg is a bit slow to angle, Hohnadell’s car rotates much faster and he has to use left foot brake to keep the proximity appropriately. Forsberg hits the switchback almost perfectly and fills the outer touch and go after the switchback, which Hohnadell doesn’t fulfill. Hohnadell is definitely on an inside line to close the proximity, but controls his angle well to keep proximity. Forsberg’s line is much smoother and more of what the judges are asking for, but Hohnadell’s adjustments to account for Forsberg’s line was impressive. All three judges voted for Forsberg to move on.
Pawlak vs. Gittin Jr.
PAWLAK LEAD – Pawlak’s car is a bit slower to get to angle into the first corner than what we’ve seen the rest of the day, but both drivers have a smooth run of the big sweeper. Gittin Jr. is about two car lengths back through most of the sweeper, and uses a slightly shallower steering angle at the end of the sweeper to reduce the proximity. Both drivers have good runs in front of the crowd at the switchback clipping point. Pawlak opens up the gap by a car length or two in the second sweeper. Gittin Jr. doesn’t have any major mistakes, this seems like an even run or possibly a slight advantage to Pawlak due to having smoother steering inputs around the entirety of the course.
GITTIN JR. LEAD – Gittin Jr. has a fairly calm run-up into the first corner and initiates cleanly, Pawlak initiates his drift about fifty feet earlier than we’ve seen anyone else initiate today, gets to a very extreme angle, but then has to make a big adjustment to keep the car sideways. Gittin Jr. is around four car lengths ahead of Pawlak at the exit of the sweeper. Pawlak closes the gap down to a single car length through the switchback, but takes out the switchback clipping point in the process. Pawlak then hits Gittin Jr. midway through the second sweeper, Gittin Jr. spins out, and Pawlak gets back on throttle and finishes the course. Pawlak was definitely gaining ground quickly, and was likely at fault for the contact. All three judges agree and send Gittin Jr. to the Top 8.
Yoshihara vs. Kearney
YOSHIHARA LEAD – Kearney jumps the light a bit, probably the first time you’ve heard of a Viper needing to get an advantage on a BR-Z. Kearney had a slight steering adjustment shortly after initiation, but kept a fairly even two car gap behind Yoshihara through most of the run. Kearney has a brief steering adjustment after the switchback in front of the crowd, but otherwise had a very smooth run. Yoshihara’s car looks much more settled this round and is inches close to nearly every clipping point.
KEARNEY LEAD – Kearney had a good initiation, Yoshihara is shortly behind him. Both drivers have smooth runs, Kearney’s angle is much better through the entirety of the course, but Yoshihara’s proximity is much better and much more consistent than Kearney’s proximity was in chase. Overall, it looks like Yoshihara is making compromises to keep up with Kearney’s Viper, but definitely is pressuring Kearney pretty hard. All three judges vote for Yoshihara.
NITTO GREAT 8
Wang vs. Bakchis
WANG LEAD – Wang with a slow initiation to angle, Odi handles it well, Wang dumps angle at the exit of the sweeper and Bakchis adjusts well. Smooth transition across the switchback, Wang hits the touch-and-go almost perfectly. Bakchis keeps proximity fairly consistently through the first half of the course, Bakchis takes the inside line between the second sweeper and the final turn and finds himself hitting the final turn too soon and has to straight out. Huge mistake from Bakchis, Wang finishes the run smoothly and will likely carry a big advantage into the next run.
BAKCHIS LEAD – Bakchis is almost equally slow to angle, both drivers finish the sweeper smoothly. Both drivers hit the switchback almost identically, Wang nearly over-rotates and washes out at the end of the second sweeper and nearly spins out. Bakchis finishes the run strongly although he takes out the final inner clip, the mistake from Wang is likely too much. The replay shows that Bakchis slowed down substantially, but in a deceleration zone and unlikely to affect the decision. All three judges vote for a “One More Time” as the mistakes are offsetting.
ONE MORE TIME
WANG LEAD – Wang with more angle on entry, Bakchis is aggressive on the brake light mid-sweeper to control his proximity. Wang smashes his wing on the rear wall at the end of the sweeper and it shatters all over Bakchis’s car, but both drivers maintain full throttle through the switchback and into the second sweeper. Wang goes deeper into the touch-and-go at the exit of the switchback and entering the sweeper, both drivers have good line and angle around the final two corners. Wang’s run was impressive, but Bakchis’s car was effectively a shadow of Wang’s car through the fastest part of the track. No major corrections from either driver.
BAKCHIS LEAD – Bakchis with a much smoother initiation, Wang isn’t as close to Bakchis in chase as the previous run. Exiting the sweeper, Wang’s car doesn’t rotate as quickly as he expected and Wang takes out the switchback cone. Bakchis has great angle through the switchback and into the second sweeper, Bakchis opens up the gap by three or four car lengths around the final two corners. Wang finishes the second half of the course smoothly, but Wang’s mistake is the only mistake we’ve seen in both runs. Bakchis will move on to the Final 4.
Aasbo vs. Coffman
AASBO LEAD – Aasbo is definitely on the higher line, Coffman keeps the proximity close but is on a lower line. Aasbo accelerates out of the first sweeper to open up a four or five car gap, Coffman has good angle but has to take the inside line to try and close the gap. Aasbo maintains a strong gap around the final two turns, Coffman is on a shallower line and takes out the final inner clip. Likely an advantage to Aasbo.
COFFMAN LEAD – Coffman has a slow initiation, good angle at the exit of the sweeper, Aasbo is keeping good proximity through the switchback and into the second sweeper. Coffman’s car is rotating much slower than Aasbo, Coffman opens up an additional car or two of proximity around the final two turns, but Aasbo really kept good proximity in the faster, more skilled parts of the track. All three judges vote for Aasbo to move on to the Final 4.
Tuerck vs. Forsberg
TUERCK LEAD – Tuerck is applying a lot of brake shortly after initiation, but Forsberg is controlling his proximity well. Tuerck has a good line, but not as close to the wall as we have seen in other runs. Tuerck has a very smooth run, Forsberg uses a slightly shallower line in the second sweeper to keep the gap to Tuerck, and transitions slightly earlier going into the final turn to keep the proximity close. Definitely a high level of skill from both drivers, it will be interesting to see how these small adjustments are weighted by the judges.
FORSBERG LEAD – Forsberg is much better than Tuerck’s, Forsberg briefly taps the rear into the wall but holds angle and powers through it. Forsberg is razor close to the inside clip on the switchback, Tuerck is close behind him, both drivers enter the second sweeper smoothly. Forsberg likely has a bit more angle than Tuerck into the second turn, the only differentiation is that Forsberg is much tighter to the final clip than Tuerck is. No major mistakes from Tuerck, but the line from Forsberg is almost perfect. We see a side-by-side replay, and it’s clear that Forsberg’s follow run was much closer through the fastest part of the sweeper in chase. Tuerck’s washout around the final corner is also much more noticeable in the side-by-side than initially witnessed by the naked eye. All three judges vote for Forsberg to make the Final 4.
Gittin Jr. vs. Yoshihara
YOSHIHARA LEAD – Yoshihara with a good entry, Gittin Jr. is a bit slower to angle but closes the gap quickly. Gittin Jr. is offline on the switchback and takes out the switchback clipping point, but stays on throttle. Yoshihara looks smooth heading into the second sweeper, but is straight heading into the second sweeper and pulls off course. Gittin Jr. maintains drift through the second sweeper, Yoshihara can’t finish the run. This is likely a deduction for Gittin Jr., but a zero run from Yoshihara which will likely lead to Gittin Jr. getting an advantage. This looks like a mechanical issue for Yoshihara, we expect to see a competition timeout called between runs.
GITTIN JR. LEAD – Gitin Jr. has a fast start and is quick into the first corner, Yoshihara is about three or four car lengths back, but his car looks to be functioning properly. Gittin Jr. has a great line, Yoshihara finishes the run smoothly around four car lengths back, but no major corrections from Gittin Jr. will surely send him into the Final Four. All three judges agree, Gittin Jr. moves on.
BLACKVUE FINAL 4
Aasbo vs. Bakchis
AASBO LEAD – These drivers have battled five previous times, and Aasbo has won every matchup to date. Aasbo has several left brake taps through the sweeper, Bakchis mirrors it perfectly and keeps a consistent one car gap through the entirety of the sweeper. Aasbo is on the higher line as required by the judges, both drivers hit the switchback almost perfectly and continue through the second sweeper smoothly and finish the course well. Aasbo’s lead was great, Bakchis’s follow was almost equally great. Perhaps a small steering correction from either driver in one or two spots, but overall this was an impressive run.
BAKCHIS LEAD – Both drivers have great runs through the big sweeper, both cars almost perfectly mirror the switchback, Aasbo is very close to Bakchis at the entering the second sweeper. Bakchis dumps big angle transitioning out of the second sweeper into the final turn, Aasbo still maintains close proximity but with slightly less angle. With a side-by-side comparison, Aasbo seems to have better angle at times in lead, proximity looks almost identical in both runs with each driver having moments of better proximity. One judge votes for “One More Time,” but the other two judges side with Aasbo. As the highest qualifying driver remaining, Bakchis is guaranteed a third place finish.
Forsberg vs. Gittin Jr.
FORSBERG LEAD – This is a rematch from the New Jersey finals where Gittin Jr. came out with the event win, both drivers will be gunning for the podium spot as they know the loser will be left off the podium. Forsberg has been deeper on the big sweeper than any other driver all day. Gittin Jr. has a tap of the brakes mid-sweeper, but overall has great proximity. Forsberg had more angle at several times through the course, Gittin Jr. was off the line in the switchback after the big sweeper, but Gittin Jr. had great proximity through the course. If there’s an advantage, then it’s possibly in Forsberg’s favor, but neither driver deserves to lose this battle!
GITTNIN JR. LEAD – Gittin Jr. has a very fast initiation and drags the bumper on the wall, Gittin Jr. taps the wall towards the end of the sweeper and has to make an adjustment. Forsberg has a fantastic chase run and doesn’t have to make an adjustment in chase. Gittin Jr. doesn’t get as much angle on the switchback as we’ve seen before, both drivers hit the outer touch-and-go as requested and finish the final two turns smoothly. The mistake from Gittin Jr. wasn’t major, but was too much to overcome. All three judges vote for Forsberg to move on to the finals.
Aasbo vs. Forsberg
AASBO LEAD – This is a battle of the defending champion vs. two-time champion, both drivers looking to make history. If Aasbo wins, he will join Yoshihara and Forsberg with eight overall wins. If Forsberg wins, he will join Gittin Jr. and Hubinette with nine overall wins. Aasbo with a big initiation, Forsberg with an unbelievable chase through the big sweeper, but a mistake exiting the big sweeper and he transitions too early, possibly completely losing drift as he passes the switchback clipping point. Forsberg gets back into drift and has good proximity through the second half of the course, Aasbo has a great line and looks almost mechanical in how consistent his line and angle has been through each pass he makes on course.
FORSBERG LEAD – Great initiation and much smoother run through the sweeper, Forsberg has a deeper line and bigger angle through the entirety of the sweeper, but Aasbo has fantastic proximity. Exiting the big sweeper, Forsberg hits the line properly unlike his chase run and has a great line through the final two turns. The mistake on his lead run is likely the deciding factor.
All three drivers are brought in front of the grandstands, entering donuts together to hype up the crowd.
WE HAVE A WINNER...
Fredric Aasbo! Forsberg claims second place, and Bakchis is third. This is Aasbo’s eighth career event win, tying Dai Yoshihara and Forsberg for third all-time behind Gittin Jr. and Hubinette who both have nine event wins. The podium is Forsberg’s thirty-first, which extends the Formula Drift record as no other driver has more than twenty three podium finishes. For Bakchis, this is his fifth career podium, and his first of the season.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. has a narrow three point lead entering the sixth round of competition, which will take place in two weeks in Seattle. Aasbo sits in second behind Gittin Jr., and is the defending event winner in Seattle. Gittin Jr. and Aasbo have traded event wins over the last four events; it will definitely be a contentious final three events of the season!