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.