Road Atlanta is the actual birthplace of Formula Drift, holding the first ever event back in May 2004. Since then, the track is known as being one of the rowdiest on the circuit, with fans who stake out their area with E-Z Ups and lawn chairs several hours before the track goes hot. Drifting into the night, the event heats up as the temperatures cool, and often produces some of the most memorable tandem battles.
This year’s Road Atlanta track layout mimics the layout that has been used for the last few years. Drivers pilot their cars down the hill ending the back straight into turn 10A, often hitting speeds close to 100mph before pitching their cars sideways. An inner clip on the inside of 10A is the first of the clipping points, and drivers will transition their cars from right to left as they round turn 10B and head back up the hill. At the top of the hill, an outside clipping zone lines the rumble strips, while a second outside zone lines the top part of the paved horseshoe that was added specifically for Formula Drift back in 2004. After sliding the rear bumper through the outer clipping zone under the judges stand, there’s an inner clipping point midway through the horse shoe, before the cars transition back again to the right to head back down the hill and through turns 10B and 10A in reverse order of the traditional course direction. After sliding through 10A and nearing the same inner clip that they started with, drivers are asked to finish their drift through the corner of 10A before shutting it down and heading back up the hill to the start line.
In case you missed the actual event, either in person or via the Driftstream, here’s a play-by-play of how the Top 32 tandem battles shook out.
Pawlak Lead: Chelsea Denofa was borrowing a Mk3 Supra from Pro 2 driver Tommy Van Cleef for the weekend due to an engine failure in his BMW, but Denofa ran into transmission gremlins in his loaner car and was unable to make the call for tandems. Pawlak gets a bye run and makes a clean pass, stamping his ticket into the Top 16.
Tyler McQuarrie Vs. Pat Goodin
McQuarrie Lead: McQuarrie has a good clean pass, Goodin keeps close proximity up the hill and through the key hole. McQuarrie starts to pull away from Goodin after the second inside clip and cruising down the hill, pulling a few car lengths away over the last portion of the course.
Goodin Lead: Goodin initiates a bit wider on the course, but gets in close to the first clip as requested by the judges. McQuarrie has good pressure up the hill on Goodin, Goodin opens up a similar gap after inside clip 2 and heading down the hill, but McQuarrie closes the gap before the final clipping point. Judges are split all three ways (one votes Goodin, one votes McQuarrie, and one votes OMT).
McQuarrie Lead: McQuarrie with a good smokey lead run, pushing pretty far out on the outside clipping zone in front of the judges without dropping a tire. Goodin has a good follow, staying only a car length or so away through most of the run. McQuarrie taps the inner clipping point in the keyhole, that will likely be a deduction. Overall, that’s the only noticeable mistake from either driver.
Goodin Lead: Goodin has a good lead run himself, running a similar line as McQuarrie did on his lead. McQuarrie takes a slightly shallower line during the key hole to gain proximity, then transitions aggressively near inner clip 2 but has to slow substantially to prevent from hitting Goodin. Goodin uses that slow-up to open up a gap down the hill which McQuarrie can’t make up. All three judges vote for Goodin to move on.
Mad Mike Whiddett Vs. Rapper Dan Savage
Whiddett Lead: Mad Mike has a manji-style initiation that looks a bit slow, but pulls it together and looks good. Savage straightens out big heading up the hill, but gets the car sideways again before the key hole. Whiddett gains big angle exiting the key hole and slows as Savage closes the gap, but Whiddett opens up the gap a bit as he finishes the rest of the course. Savage’s straightening-out appears to give a big advantage to Whiddett.
Between runs, Whiddett calls his lone competition timeout of the weekend, apparently he’s having starter issues.
Savage Lead: Savage has a good initiation and line up the hill, Whiddett drops a tire on initiation and again at the bottom of the hill. Savage has a pretty major correction that appears to be a substantial loss of angle and possibly a straightening out transitioning out of the key hole. Whiddett never gains proximity, and the question turns to whether Whiddett dropped one tire or two at the bottom of the hill (a two-tire drop would be a zero, where a single tire drop would be a major deduction). Judges give the win to Whiddett, determining that both drivers earned a 0 on the second run and Whiddett had the advantage after the first run.
Forrest Wang Vs. Marc Landreville
Wang Lead: Wang has a fast, smokey lead run with tons of steering angle through the entire course. Landreville has decent proximity at a few points during the run, but with noticeably less angle.
Landreville Lead: Landreville has a good initiation and line coming up the hill, but drops at least one tire around the entry to the key hole in front of the judges stand. Wang stays one to two car lengths behind Landreville through most of the course, but with good angle and smoke. Judges vote unanimously for Wang.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. Vs. Jeff Jones
Gittin Jr. Lead: Gittin runs a qualifying-style line, opening up a fairly big gap as the cars head up the hill. Jones takes a shallower line through the key hole and closes the gap a bit, but Gittin opens it back up as they exit the key hole and head back down the hill. Gittin looks to have the advantage due to opening up the gap on two different occasions through the course.
Jones Lead: Gittin leaves some space between him and Jones on initiation and slowly closes the gap up the hill and into the keyhole. Jones has a smokey run, but clearly is running much slower coming down the hill than Gittin is expecting. Gittin slows substantially and keeps the car sideways through the rest of the course, with a slight love tap from Gittin Jr. near the finish line. Jones clearly doesn’t have the same level of grip as Gittin Jr., despite having a similar level of horsepower. Gittin Jr. gets the unanimous decision.
Kenneth Moen Vs. Michael Essa
Moen Lead: Moen runs a good qualifying line, while Essa shows big nearly-backwards angle coming down the hill from the start line. The big angle causes Essa to lose ground, and Essa over-rotates through the key hole, losing too much speed to continue and straightens out. Essa re-initiates and re-joins the chase, but the mistake is likely to result in a major deduction or possibly a 0 for him.
Essa Lead: Essa shows big angle again on initiation, but shallow angle coming up the hill. Moen shallows his angle coming up the hill to catch up to Essa, then stays relatively close to Essa through the rest of the run. Moen’s deduction is likely a smaller mistake than Essa’s from the first run. Moen gets the win unanimously from the judges.
Odi Bakchis Vs. Jhonnattan Castro
Bakchis Lead: Castro is unable to make the call for tandem due to an expired engine, Bakchis makes a bye run and moves uncontested into the Top 16.
Masahi Yokoi Vs. Matt Coffman
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi uses more of the track than any driver to this point of the competition, pushing his rear tires all the way to the outside of the track on both outside zones. Coffman takes a shallower line into and through the key hole to gain proximity, but Yokoi opens up the gap coming back down the hill. Overall, Yokoi has big angle and tons of smoke, and clearly has the faster car.
Coffman Lead: Coffman runs a smooth, clean run, but Yokoi closes proximity shortly after the first clip and stays close to Coffman through the rest of the run. Yokoi leaves just enough room for Coffman to transition, then sucks right back into Coffman’s rear quarter panel after every transition. Judges vote unanimously for Yokoi.
Fredric Aasbo Vs. Daigo Saito
Aasbo Lead: Aasbo runs a good outside line through the course with tons of smoke. Saito takes a shortcut through the grass after the first clipping point while heading up the hill, putting both a front and rear tire off and earning a 0. Saito’s run looks shaky overall, while Aasbo’s run looks pretty flawless.
Saito Lead: Saito has a much better run on his lead, having some shakey angle adjustments coming up the hill but overall a good line. Aasbo leaves some space at times during the run in case Saito makes any mistakes, but closes the gap almost on demand when Saito’s car looks more stable. Saito makes another mistake exiting the key hole, overall the run just doesn’t look smoth. Judges vote unanimously for Aasbo.
Tanner Foust Vs. Geoff Stoneback
Foust Lead: Foust runs a fairly wide Nitto rear tire, and uses that advantage to push out tons of smoke through the course. Foust’s run is very smooth, and Stoneback doesn’t make any major mistakes but isn’t as close to Foust as we’ve seen from other drivers so far. Overall, Foust may have a slight advantage due to having better angle at times than Stoneback.
Stoneback Lead: Stoneback has a good initiation and opens up a bit of a gap heading up the hill and into the keyhole. Foust washes out at the top of the hill into the keyhole, losing momentum and straightening out in front of the judges. Stoneback continues his run flawlessly and with good angle, Foust’s advantage is likely too much to move on. Stoneback gets the unanimous decision.
Chris Forsberg Vs. Kyle Mohan
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg has a clean initiation and runs a good line through the course. Mohan drops a front tire transitioning between the first inner clip before heading up the hill, and takes an inside line trying to close the gap to Forsberg but still can’t close the gap. Forsberg has great smoke through the course, and is consistently four to six car lengths ahead of Mohan.
Mohan Lead: Mohan hits a chicane cone on the first start, which requires a restart. Mohan’s second start is clean, but has a bit of a steering adjustment heading up the hill towards the key hole. Forsberg closes the gap up to around one car length entering the key hole, then backs off to allow Mohan to transition and keeps the gap around two car lengths for the rest of the run. Judges vote unanimously for Forsberg.
Ryan Tuerck Vs. Pat Mordaunt
Tuerck Lead: Mordaunt doesn’t make the call for tandem competition, Tuerck makes a bye run to meet his Drift Alliance buddy Chris Forsberg in the Top 16.
Conrad Grunewald Vs. Dean Kearney
Grunewald Lead: Grunewald has always qualified well in Atlanta, and this year is no different as he qualified third. Grunewald has a good lead run with good tire smoke. Kearney closes the gap to around a car length coming up the hill. Grunewald dumps some big angle right in front of the judges stand entering the key hole, and Kearney has to slow substantially to avoid hitting Grunewald which causes him to straighten out. Grunewald finishes the run in drift, Kearney has a major deduction and likely a zero entering his lead run.
Kearney Lead: Kearney has a good lead run, billowing plenty of smoke, especially through the key hole and heading down the hill. Grunewald’s car is a bit off line near inside clip two, and Kearney opens up a gap heading down the hill, but it’s unlikely enough to make up for his mistake on his chase run. Judges agree, unanimous decision for Grunewald.
Charles Ng Vs. Matt Field
Ng Lead: Field is aggressive on his follow, diving right on Ng’s door shortly after initiation. Ng drives off-course in front of the judges stand, replay shows that Field initiated the contact and was at-fault for Ng’s off. Field is at a major disadvantage for the second run.
Field Lead: Field has a good lead run and hits the clips well, but unlikely to overcome his zero from the lead. Ng drops a tire after the first clipping point, and closes the gap on Field through the key hole, but Field pulls away in the latter portion of the course. Judges feel that Field’s mistake on his chase was too much to overcome, unanimous decision for Ng.
Ken Gushi Vs. Mats Baribeau
Baribeau calls his competition timeout prior to the first run.
Gushi Lead: Baribeau broke an axle and was unable to replace it in time. Gushi takes a bye run and moves on into the Top 16.
Alec Hohnadell Vs. Nate Hamilton
Hohnadell Lead: A battle of Pro 2 graduates from last season, neither driver has won a tandem battle in the Pro class. Hohnadell has a good lead run, while Hamilton slides off course after initiation and is sitting on a 0. Hohnadell finishes the run cleanly with good tire smoke.
Hamilton Lead: Hamilton actually makes it past the first corner and looks to be making a full pull. Hamilton has a shallow line through the keyhole, but Hohnadell drops at least one and possibly two tires entering the key hole. Judges have to determine if the dirt drop was one tire or two – one tire is a deduction and likely a win for Hohnadell, two tires would be a zero and a mandatory one-more-time. There doesn’t appear to be a definitive angle which shows Hohnadell dropping a second tire, so Hohnadell gets the win.
Ford TOP 16
Justin Pawlak Vs. Pat Goodin
Pawlak Lead: Top qualifier Pawlak has a less-than-stellar run, sliding onto the grass after initiation and straightening out again after getting back on the pavement. Goodin loses drift behind Pawlak, but will likely be given a pass since he had to change his line substantially while following Pawlak. Pawlak has won at this track before, but this isn’t his best pass of the weekend
Goodin Lead: As Goodin initiates, Pawlak is right on his door! Up the hill, Pawlak is about a car length away, but closes the gap substantially at the top of the key hole. Pawlak is very tight on Goodin’s door through the key hole, and there’s contact between the cars that spins Goodin. Judges must determine if Pawlak tapped Goodin, or if Goodin spun first and Pawlak tapped him after. It appears that the judges sided with Goodin as Pawlak is eliminated by a unanimous decision.
Mad Mike Whiddett Vs. Forrest Wang
Whiddett Lead: Both drivers have used a feint initiation all weekend, and running against each other, they both initiate almost synchronously. Whiddett’s 4-rotor is billowing tire smoke up the hill! Wang loses a little angle coming up the hill, then sucks in around the key hole and through inner clip 2. Whiddett is putting big smoke out down the hill, Wang gives him some room and Whiddett opens up a small gap heading down the hill, Wang closes it again towards the final turn. It’s tough to call a definitive advantage after that run.
Wang Lead: Wang has a bigger feint entry on his lead run, and continues with big angle through the keyhole. Whiddett closes the gap, both cars are have plumes of tire smoke coming off the rear tires. Wang pulls away again around the final two turns of the track. It’s hard to see across the entire track due to the tire smoke. Fans cheer loudly and chant for one more time. The announcer asks the crowd who they think won. More cheers for Whiddett than Wang, but One More Time gets the loudest cheer. One judge sides with Wang but two judges vote OMT, we’re going One More Time!
Whiddett Lead: Another mirrored feint entry, Whiddett’s car starts putting out tire smoke much earlier than Wang’s. Wang is two to three car lengths behind Whiddett up the hill, partially due to Whiddett running slightly shallower angle. Wang is unable to close the gap substantially over the course of the run.
Wang Lead: Big feint entry from Wang, much smokier than on his follow run. Whiddett appears to get lost in Wang’s tire smoke coming up the hill and is off line through the first outer clipping zone. Whiddett gets lost again through the key hole and washes out a bit, causing a major correction and loss in speed. Wang pulls away through the rest of the course and wins the hearts of the judges unanimously, earning the pass into the Great 8. Whiddett definitely impressed the fans with this run and looks to be a serious competitor this season at future rounds!
Vaughn Gittin Jr. Vs. Kenneth Moen
Gittin Jr Lead: Moen closes gap coming up the hill and stays very close through the key hole. Gittin Jr pulls away a bit after inner clip two and back down the hill, but Moen closes again around the final turn. Gittin Jr’s run wasn’t bad, but Moen’s chase looked nearly textbook! Between runs, FD officials check under the hood as it appears Moen lost the dump tube to his wastegate during the run. This doesn’t count as a competition time out as it was initiated by FD, just to ensure that the car was safe to continue.
Moen Lead: Moen has a smooth clean line, Gittin Jr looks to be a car length or so further back behind Moen than on the previous run. As the cars pull out of the key hole and transition past inner clip two, Gittin Jr spins out. Moen finishes the run cleanly and earns the win to advance to the Great 8 for the first time this season.
Odi Bakchis Vs. Masashi Yokoi
Bakchis Lead: Bakchis has a good initiation, Yokoi seems to be leaving some room strategically as they drive up the hill. Bakchis drops a tire at the rear clipping zone at the top of the hill, Yokoi closes the gap due to the dirt drop and stays close through the rest of the run. Bakchis takes a wide line down the hill and shows big steering angle, but is unable to open up a big gap on Yokoi.
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi uses a lot of e-brake on initiation and even drops a tire. Bakchis closes the gap coming up the hill and stays within one car length of Yokoi through the second half of the course. Bakchis uses his foot brake to slow the car and prevent a collision while still maintaining close proximity, showing excellent car control! Bakchis gets the unanimous decision.
Fredric Aasbo Vs. Geoff Stoneback
Aasbo Lead: Aasbo has a qualifying-like lead run with plenty of tire smoke. Stoneback had a small tire drop from the front wheel around the first inner clip. Aasbo has big angle especially through the outside clipping zone at the top of the hill, Stoneback has a shallower angle but closes proximity through key hole. Aasbo pulls away from Stoneback after inner clip two, Stoneback loses ground over the final portion of the course.
Stoneback Lead: Stoneback initiates and Aasbo is several car lengths behind him, but closes the gap as they come up the hill. Aasbo is close on Stoneback around the keyhole, but washes out and has to re-initiate before inner clip 2. Stoneback pulls a big four to five car gap around the rest of the course, this is Aasbo’s first major mistake of the season! Stoneback unanimously wins over all three judges, eliminating the current points leader. What a huge shake-up in the points!
Chris Forsberg Vs. Ryan Tuerck
Fosberg Lead: Forsberg is taking the wider outside line through the outer clipping zone at the top of the hill and into the key hole, which is what the judges have asked for. Tuerck takes a shallower line, but closes some ground before they get to the key hole. Forsberg has some impressive angle coming out of the key hole and down the hill, Tuerck loses ground over the latter part of the course and is five or six car lengths behind Forsberg at the finish.
Tuerck Lead: Forsberg is pushing hard on his chase, no less than a car length behind Tuerck through nearly the entire course! Forsberg taps Tuerck coming up the hill, dropping a tire near the outer clipping zone at the top of the hill. Tuerck loses some angle after the collision, but gains the angle and both drivers continue the course as if nothing happened. Forsberg maintained proximity through the rest of the course, one of the best follow runs we’ve seen so far! The replay shows that Tuerck was headed off the line, and the contact from Forsberg may have been due to Tuerck’s line being incorrect. Judges all side with Forsberg, giving him the win. Apparently, this was discussed in the drivers meeting, and if a driver is headed off line, the chase driver doesn’t need to follow off line.
Conrad Grunewald Vs. Charles Ng
Grunewald Lead: Grunewald always has big angle on initiation. Ng has shallow angle after initiation and through the first part of the course, but closes the gap. Grunewald’s run definitely has more angle, but if proximity is more important, then Ng might not be in a bad position. This is tough to call without knowing the specifics from the drivers meeting (which media isn’t allowed to attend).
Ng Lead: Ng taps the first clipping point on initiation, Grunewald gains good proximity through most of the course. Ng dumps major tire smoke exiting the key hole, Grunewald has very shallow angle in the same area. Ng drops a front tire again at the final clip. Announcers believe that both drivers may have dropped a single tire at various times across the course, but Grunewald’s loss of angle may have been more substantial. Ng gets the majority decision, but one judge voted for a OMT.
Ken Gushi Vs. Alec Hohnadell
Gushi Lead: Gushi has a solid lead run, no major mistakes but nothing particularly impressive. Hohnadell slides off the course at the top of the hill past the first outer clipping zone, it appears he over-estimated the grip level. Gushi finishes the run cleanly and will have a major advantage.
Hohnadell Lead: Hohnadell has big angle on initiation and a good gap on Gushi, this looks like a calculated move by Gushi as he slowly closes the gap coming up the hill. Hohnadell loses drift and appears to shut the car down while exiting the key hole, Gushi slides past Hohnadell in full drift and earns the win into the Great 8. Hohnadell had some fuel pump issues in Long Beach, hopefully this isn’t related. There’s a brief fire under Hohnadell’s car, but that clears itself and we’re on to the Great 8!
Nitto Great 8
Pat Goodin Vs. Forrest Wang
Wang Lead: Wang starts with a good initiation, but is shallow on his line through both outer clipping zones. Goodin has shallow angle through the first portion of the course. Wang slows a bit through the key hole which allows Goodin to gain proximity. Wang pulls big angle near inner clip two, then accelerates down the hill and opens up the gap again on Goodin. Goodin mentioned in an interview between Top 16 and Top 8 that he was down on power, he looks to be driving a conservative line due to the drop in power.
Goodin Lead: Goodin has a shallow line on the first few corners, and drops at least a front tire and possibly two tires after the first transition. Wang closes proximity coming up the hill and stays pretty close through the key hole. Goodin pulls away again exiting the key hole, perhaps Wang knew Goodin dropped both tires and gave some room to be safe. Replay confirms that Goodin dropped both tires, earning him a zero. Wang gets the unanimous decision from the judges.
Kenneth Moen Vs. Odi Bakchis
Bakchis Lead: Odi initiates cleanly, Moen initiates later and narrowly touches Bakchis’ rear bumper but doesn’t affect Bakchis’ line at all. Bakchis increases the distance between both drivers through the key hole, but extends the distance to nearly five car lengths after the key hole and through the final portion of the course. Bakchis’ car clearly has massive grip, and he’s able to walk away from Moen despite having less horsepower.
Moen Lead: Moen has a smooth line and looks much faster on this lead run, Bakchis is a bit further behind than Moen was on the previous run. Bakchis loses angle through the second outside clipping zone at the start of the keyhole, then loses angle again exiting the key hole. These look like major mistakes, while Moen’s run looks smooth. All three judges vote One More Time, it seems as though the mistakes are equal.
Bakchis Lead: Moen looks to have fallen asleep at the start line as Bakchis leaves the line. Moen initiates several seconds after Bakchis, and has a consistent seven to ten car gap through the entire course. Moen definitely has more smoke through the track, but this looks to be counted as an inactive chase, which is rare in the first run of a battle.
Moen Lead: Both drivers leave at the same time and run a fairly calm, conservative line. Moen has great tire smoke and good angle through the course, and had we seen this type of run on the first run, Moen may have had a chance. As it stands, Moen's lackluster chase run is his downfall. Bakchis earns all votes from the judges.
Geoff Stoneback Vs. Chris Forsberg
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg continues to look flawless, with a solid lead run that would likely have scored well in qualifying. Stoneback makes several mistakes including shallow angle heading up the hill and a loss of angle again exiting the key hole. Stoneback’s chase run is confirmed to be scored as a zero due to the quantity of mistakes.
Stoneback Lead: Stoneback has a good clean lead run, as if nothing happened in the first run. Forsberg’s follow isn’t overly aggressive, but is definitely not inactive. Stoneback runs his line, Forsberg starts to close the gap through the key hole, but Stoneback pulls away from Forsberg after the key hole and is spitting out tons of smoke. Forsberg appears to be lost in the smoke and goes completely off course in his chase. This appears to be an easy One More Time vote. Judges unanimously vote for Forsberg. Explanation is that both drivers earned a 0 on their chase run, so they compare the lead runs and Forsberg’s lead run was better. Therefore, Forsberg moves into the Final Four.
Charles Ng Vs. Ken Gushi
Gushi Lead: Ng is parallel to Gushi near the initiation zone, which nullifies the run. Ng needed to fall into line behind Gushi by a set point on the track, and didn’t. On the re-run, Gushi has a good initiation while Ng is shaky on his angle, then falls back coming up the hill. Gushi has good smoke and line through the course, Ng isn’t aggressive enough on his chase. Advantage is likely to go to Gushi.
Ng lead: Ng has a much smoother initiation on this run, but Gushi is close behind him. Ng runs a good run, but Gushi is hot on his tail through most of the course. Gushi earns the vote from all three judges, which pushes him to his first Final 4 in quite some time.
Nitto Final 4
Odi Bakchis Vs. Forrest Wang
Bakchis Lead: Odi runs his line, consistent and hitting the clips. Wang initiates very close to Bakchis, but slows due to his angle after the first clip. Bakchis pulls away by several car lengths, Wang loses drift completely at outer zone two entering the key hole. Bakchis finishes the run cleanly, Wang is at a major disadvantage going into the second run.
Wang Lead: Wang uses the same feint entry he has used on all his lead runs, Bakchis leaves some room but closes it coming up the hill. Wang shows impressive angle entering the key hole and again exiting the key hole, Bakchis stays one to two car lengths through most of the smoke. Wang undeniably had more angle and tire smoke, but Bakchis maintained pretty good proximity through the entire course. Bakchis earns the win, guaranteeing his second consecutive podium. Unfortunately, since there is no longer a consolation round, Wang takes fourth place due to a lower qualifying position from all other drivers remaining in the competition. This gives Bakchis back-to-back podiums for the first time in his career, and his fourth total podium.
Gushi and Forsberg are now guaranteed on the podium, which marks Forsberg’s 25th career podium and Gushi’s first podium since Sonoma 2009.
Ken Gushi Vs. Chris Forsberg
Gushi Lead: Great initiation by Gushi right on the rumble strips. Forsberg loses some proximity up the hill, but closes it again entering the key hole. Something ignites under Forsberg’s car midway through the key hole, but it doesn’t affect either driver, and Forsberg maintains only one to two car length of proximity through the entire second half of the course. This gives us a flashback to 2005, when Forsberg’s Falken Tire S15 caught fire in the final round on the way to Forsberg’s first career win. Is this a foreshadowing moment?
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg initiates in nearly the identical location as Gushi on his lead run. Gushi keeps even proximity through the course, almost a mirror image to Forsberg’s chase run minus the pyrotechnics. These runs look too close to call, and have been the best pair of runs all weekend by far! One judge votes for Forsberg, two others vote for One More Time, so we go One More Time!
The loser of this battle is guaranteed to earn the final podium position due to their qualifying efforts.
Gushi Lead: Good early initiation from Gushi, but not as deep of a line as his previous initiation. Forsberg is just inches away from Gushi through almost the entire key hole. Gushi isn’t able to increase the gap between the cars exiting the key hole like most drivers have been doing. On the replay, one small steering correction is identified on Forsberg’s chase heading up the hill, but otherwise, this looks to be one of Forsberg’s best chase runs of the night.
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg’s line coming up the hill is one of the best we’ve seen all night! Forsberg pulls away about one car length up the hill, Gushi closes the gap a bit around the key hole, but Forsberg pulls another one to two car lengths away from Gushi exiting the key hole. Gushi looks to drop a tire around the final turn of the track. Judges take a bit of time to make a decision, all three judges vote for another One More Time round.
Gushi Lead: Another consistent lead run for Gushi, both drivers are burning tires like they’re kindling. Forsberg has around one car length gap through most of the track with almost identical angle. Against any other driver, this would be a pretty distinct advantage, but the way these battles have gone, it’s likely to be even.
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg initiates and puts on a great run. Gushi gets aggressive coming up the hill and looks to be closer to Forsberg. Forsberg opens up the gap a bit exiting the key hole. This is probably the closest pair of runs we’ve seen so far, and judges MUST make a decision. We get a side-by-side replay of both runs, and they are nearly impossible to decipher. Gushi clearly has better proximity as the chase car coming up the hill, but Forsberg has better proximity on the latter half of the course as a chase car. Judges have to be splitting hairs… Gushi is the unanimous winner. Had judges been forced to analyze the previous runs this closely, this likely would have tilted the other way.
Go Pro Finals
Odi Bakchis Vs. Ken Gushi
Bakchis is going for his first career event win, Gushi is going for only his second career win and his first since Houston 2005.
Bakchis Lead: Gushi initiates within one car length of Bakchis and holds it through the first corner, but Bakchis opens up a gap heading up the hill. Bakchis has a steering adjustment at the top of the hill, but paints his rear tire on the edge of the pavement around the key hole. Gushi bumps one of the clipping points on his chase, but overall has a solid chase run.
Gushi Lead: Gushi has a good initiation and opens up a small gap heading up the hill, then dumps big angle at the top of the hill entering the key hole. Bakchis closes the gap a bit heading through the key hole. Gushi appears to have some sort of rear suspension damage as his rear wheel has some odd geometry going on, appears to be damaged rear control arm of some sort. He maintains drift through the rest of the course, and has great tire smoke. Overall, a great battle from both drivers. Drivers are brought in front of the fans and Gushi is announced in second place, meaning Odi Bakchis earns his first career win!
Photos by Nelson Ayra and Alex Wong