Event>>red Bull Top 32 Report

Ok let’s jump straight in and look at each Red Bull drift battle from the “Dirty 32“, as Formula Drift announcer J-Rod called the Top 32.

In some ways the Top 32 was the most fascinating part of the competition, as it featured the widest variety of cars from the corners of the globe. It felt for a moment that most of the world’s international drifting communities had come together to create one of the biggest, most ambitious drift events ever. Hats off to every one who participated.

Let’s look at how the first set of tandem rounds went down:

The day started out with Millen doing a free bye run as his opponent Ken Gushi was unable to get his car to the line. I’m not sure what the exact problem was with the Scion, but it never seemed like Gushi’s team was going to have the car fixed. Must have been a very serious issue.

Next out of the gate was Irish drifter Eric O’Sullivan, up against Stephan Verdier in his drifting Subaru. The run turned into a bit of a non-event though, as O’Sullivan overcooked his entry…..

…. and went into the wall, ending his dreams and hope of a good showing. Exit O’Sullivan.

Up next was Takatori vs. Sherman: two Nissan proponents. The first run, with Takatori leading was very close….

…but during the second battle, Sherman was able to open up a big gap, thus taking the round win over his opponent.

Canadian Marco Santos had to deal with the might of Falken Tire drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr for his opening tandem battle. Talk about an Intimidating opponent! JR simply drove away from him and opened up a huge gap into the first initiation. He then proceeded to slide the tail of his car along the entirety of the first turn wall, wowing the crowd. Crazy man!

By the time they were mid-course, Gittin had opened up a huge gap to the G35.

Compare to the second run and you can see the speed differential. Gittin is right there up close and personal with Santos.

Exit one Canadian.

Darren McNamara and Ben “Bon Bon” Broke-Smith are two drifters who had previously competed against each other in the UK, well before Darren made a career for himself in the States. I’m not sure how much of a rematch this was though, as their equipment is not on the same level.

On the first run Darren in his Saturn Sky simply drove away from Bon Bon in his Toyota Chaser. It was a bit of a no contest.

The second leg was rather dramatic as Bon bon lost his drift in the opening corner. Behind him, Darren was 100% committed and coming it at a high rate of knots. It looks like they lightly touched, but both managed to stay off the walls.

Darren moved on.

Another case of the fast vs the slow. I was curious how Tanner was going to cope with following a car much slower than his; the Remmo Nielzen BMW E30 V8.

The BMW’s lack of pace didn’t seem to be any trouble at all for Tanner and he cleanly planted his car on the tail of the E30 and executed perfect clipping points behind his opponent.

Remmo wasn’t too far behind Tanner for the second run, but he was not able to out perfect the ultimate perfectionist. Exit another European drifter.

Unfortunately for Luke Fink, his day was over before Sunday’s
proceeding’s kicked off. The engine on his car gave up the ghost and
there was nothing he could do. Without a spare engine he had to watch Kiwi drifter Carl Ruiterman do a bye run from the Red Bull VIP area.

A lot of people at the event were quite interested in this pairing: the wild wide body RX7 of Kiwi Mike Whiddet vs the BMW E36 of Dutchman Paul Vlasblom. Although Paul displayed some great lines, Mike easily had the legs on him and seemed able to pull along side the BMW at will.

For the second run, Paul lost his drift mid-corner and it was game over for him. The Red Bull RX7 advanced to the top 16.

Hubinette vs Miki was a little bit of a no-contest. The Bergenholtz Racing RX7 driver was never able to mount a serious challenge to the NuFormz Racing Viper and was eliminated from the competition.

The battle of the S15 faces. Malaysia’s Tengku Djan vs Ireland’s James Deane proved to be a close battle and required a second run to determine a winner.

Unfortunately for James he came into the first corner way too hot.

He ended up mashing into the rear of Djan’s S13 and both cars bounced off the wall.

Somehow the Malaysian driver managed to maintain his drift but it was the end of the line for the ProDrift Champion. A hose ruptured on his car from the collision and his day was over.

I was quite unhappy with the judging call on the next round: Forsberg vs D1NZ Champion Garry Whiter.

Look at this image. Whiter is clearly keeping Forsberg honest.

Next run… No contest. Forsberg is miles behind Whiter and completely failed to close the gap for the entirety of the run. FD Judge Andy Yen gave the win to Whiter but the other two judges called for a one more time. Why, I don’t know. Ok Forsberg was closer to the wall, but still IMO he was completely shown up by the NZ drifter.

After the second run, Forsberg went through and Whiter was sent home.

To my eyes this judging call seemed very wrong. I felt bad for Whiter.

The Drift Alliance friends and family seemed very happy about the result though! Settle down there Abigail….

The on-track dramas continued as Grunewald out-psyched himself…

…and stuffed his Corvette into the barriers.

Ouch…. The car and driver were relatively unscathed though.

Daijiro Yoshihara vs Robbie Bolger was always going to be a bit of a non-contest.

The Irish Australian never looked particularly comfortable in his borrowed 350Z and was easily out shown by the GTO Driver. It must have been painful for the 2007 Drift Australia champion to have been beaten by a car of similar spec to his own regular machine.

2008 Drift Australia Champion Leighton Fine really seemed to come alive for the tandem battles and he was all over Kyle Mohan’s FC RX7. The end of this run was very strange though, as Kyle crashed his car well after the finish line, into a concrete barrier. I don’t know what happened there… did his throttle stick? Did he misjudge the end of the course?

The second run started after repairs were done on the Mazda, but Fine easily drove his borrowed S15 away from the damaged RX7.

The next pairing was interesting: Norwegian Frederic Aasabo against British drifter Tim Marshall. Both of these cars produce heaps of smoke, but looked a little slow during practice and qualifying. The Supra looked a lot faster today though and easily had the legs on the V8 powered R33 Skline.

For the second run Aasabo had easily outshown the EDC runner-up and advanced to the Top 16.

Justin Pawlak did manage to pull a one more time against Katsuhiro Ueo, but ultimatley lost out to the Japanese 2002 D1GP Champion.

Ueo’s incredible and somewhat scary drift entries were a small indication of what this event could have been if D1 had come to the table to play. Let’s hope the two organizations will be able to work out an arrangement for next year.

So the pairings for the Top 16 looked like so:

Millen Vs. Verdier

Sherman Vs. Gittin

McNamara Vs. Foust

Ruiterman Vs. Whiddet

Hubinette Vs. Djan

Forsburg Vs. Nishida

Yoshihara Vs. Fine

Asabo Vs Ueo

We’ll look at these battles in detail in my next post.


Red Bull Drifting World Championship coverage on Speedhunters



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Whoa! Great post – Thups up!

BTW: The Norwegian drift star is Fredric Aasbø (not Frederic Aasabo).

Cheers, Domo-kun


thats such bull-sh*t about making Whiter have another run


From video I have seen and stuff i have read the judges really did favour the Americans, why have a world comp when it's clear Formula D want one of their own to win.

ps. i feel sorry for Luke Fink and the Holdfords crew, they put so much into getting over there and to not be able to compete must have really killed them.


A couple of "One more times" should not have happened. There was a clear winner, but I guess the crowds weren't happy with it, so it changed judges views.


The judges didn't favor the americans, at least andy yen didn't anyway.

If they did, Ueo would have lost too JTP. (which was a awesome battle imo)

The judges helped Fors over whiter, but screwed him over during his match against sam

Went both ways....


I wish more guys could have driven from around the world.

I think the judging was MOSTLY fair. There were a few things that were totally wrong, but most of it was spot-on

As much as I HATE to say it, Rhys,Tanner, Sam are really good drivers.

I don't think I got to see BonBon do a full run! What a bummer!!!


Can the fans judge the judges? lol


It wasn't a real world championship, more of a world exhibition match.

As a platform to show the worldwide growth of the sport it was a fantastic event and probably much better organised than anything D1 could have pulled off. It was also an ideal demonstration to the USA drivers that there is some amazing talent and even more amazing machines around. If you come to Europe and drift with 600Hp and fat tyres you will not do well. The cars reflected the local drift styles of the various countries quite well I think. The downtown excursion was something else and many of our drivers and crew are going to sleep with a big smile for the next few weeks.

Thank you FORMULA D and REDBULL for such an opportunity and great event.

Thanks to all the media and websites for such great coverage. Too bad we could not watch a live stream in Europe.


I agree about the OMT Whiter vs Forsberg. I've read other peoples comments on the runs (who were at the event) and all were confused with the results from their battle. Sucks more as Whiter (IMO) has had a few bad calls against him in his home championship too... hopefully his luck will change soon!

Cheers for the detailed posts and great pics as always :)


Ernie Fixmer asked for quite a few one more times. It made me scratch my head.


Graham: Out of curiosity, why would you not do well with 600HP and large tyres on the European drift scene? Verging on making excuses me thinks! If you are going to pull out the generally slower tracks argument, surely big sticky tyres and big horsepower would mean you could walk away from anyone out of tight corners?


Bring back ALEX P!! way betttttttttttttttttttttttttttter judge!


ohh I really enjoyed this read.. kant wait for part 2..... BTW anyone kno what Luke Fink's motor that blew was?


I agree with a few needlss OMT's. The runs were close but a winner could have been called. I'm in favor of as few OMT's as possible. Jared had to say "You just want to see them run again" a couple of times.

Other than that I thought the majority opinion judging was solid even if Ernie did get flustered at one point and mixed up the drivers that had just run and sounded like he had no idea what just happened in the prior runs when Jared stuffed the mic into his face. The judges booth is a busy place and he seemed caught off guard.

In the case of Forsberg vs Garry Whiter I called it for Forsberg as well. Yes Whiter pulled away on the 2nd run because his line was way shallow and missed the outer clip while Forsberg was taking the line the judges required on the outside starting in the middle of the plastic barriers. Forsberg did not lose any ground but was unable to make up for his longer line.

Keep in mind they were strictly judging on line in the first corner and gave more points to those close to the wall and docked anyone who was far from the wall. That was the MO all weekend and the drivers knew it. It seems that FD would rather see a tailing driver take the qualifying line than go with the D1 standard of disregarding line and focusing on how close the chaser is able to mirror the lead. Not as exciting but as long as it is consistent it works.

The deck was stacked in FD's favor but the unpredictability of drifting saw Gushi and Takatori fail to start in the Dirty 32 and Grenwald, JR, and Pawlak all crash out.

The competition would have been very different with more D1 drivers, that is for sure.

For all the judging arguments I fear the only thing that will settle them is when the RBDWC episode airs on SPEED.


i have to agree with umai "most" the decisions where solid. and i did like how they had the new rules for judging, altough i thought there where more one more times then i liked. anyway thanks for this coverage i missed a lot of the top 32, good to be caught up.


Great website thanks. I thought however that this event was monitored by GPS on the cars. If so how come Gaz Whiter didn't get through? Maybe he didn't have Red Bull on his car???????


Look at the last two pics of Whiter vs Forsberg when Forsberg and Whiter are pretty much in the exact same position on the track in their lead runs but Whiter on the chase is hard up the inside of Forsberg where he should be but Forsberg on his chase is way behind and out wide... the chase driver should be getting his nose in on the lead driver in this case he completely failed and trailed behind as do I think the judges did to make the right call


i am also shocked at the call given in the whiter vs forsberg battle whiter completely outdrove forsberg the cliping points were at the last half of the first turn and whiter hit all points perfect in his lead run with forsberg nowhere to b seen . whats the point in battling if your way behind i feel for whiter going all that way and getting delt the call .not good at all .whiter had never used the tires he was using b4 and had only driven the car twice b4 heading to the states


Whiter for the win without a doubt! All that way for a call like that! Ohh poor gaz ha ha


Sorry, I flagged comment from Chris above as inappropriate in error - all he stated is true!