I'm still in a "Long Beach State of Mind" as I prepare for tomorrow morning's trip back down to SoCal for the ALMS race at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Before I do that though, I'd like to finish our look at the competition from last weekend's Formula D Long Beach event. This time we'll start at the Great Eight, and move all the way to the final.
As you'll see above, the first match of the Great Eight was Stephan Verdier's Impreza mixing it up with the 350Z of Robbie Nishida. Verdier had already beaten Rhys Millen and Chris Forsberg, but his day would come to an end here at the hands of Robbie, who advanced to the semi-finals. Although his run ended here, Verdier had an incredible start to his season.
Next up was some classic Mopar on Ford action when Sam Hubinette went against Vaughn Gittin Jr. How would this one turn out?
Not surprsingly, a One More Time was called in this clash of the titans. Again, when Sam was leading he slowed up significantly at the hairpin. As you read in the Falken Report, instead of backing off JR put the front end of the Mustang into the Viper, which caused Sam to spin. The Mustang escaped with cosmetic damage, but the five minute rule had to be called for repairs to Sam's car.
The two battle-scarred machines finished their fight, but the judges ruled in Hubinette's favor after the contact. Another one of the day's controversial calls, and something that just can't be avoided in judged drift events.
The third match of the Great Eight was Tony Brakohiapa vs Ryan Tuerck. Compared to JR and Sam's battle, this one went quick. Tuerck moved on to the semi-final as Tony B's successful day finally came to an end following a spin.
Rounding out the Great Eight was Tanner Faust v. Taka Aono. After an incredible day, Taka sadly hit the tire wall near the first corner and Tanner sailed through to the Final Four.
With the Great Eight in the books, the field was narrowed down to Nishida, Hubinette, Tuerck, and Faust.
The Final Four started with Hubinette facing Robbie Nishida.
Robbie was driving as hard as ever, but a spin would give the match to Hubinette. Judging by the crowd's reaction, they were sad to see Robbie and the Z eliminated after coming this far. Who would Sam face in the final, Faust or Tuerck?
Next, Tanner Faust went against Ryan Tuerck in a hard-fought match that required TWO OMT's to finish.
During the second OMT, Ryan was able to open up a lead and he was declared winner.The final would be Ryan Tuerck vs. Sam Hubinette, but before that Robbie Nishida and Tanner would go at it for the remaining spot on the podium.
The fight for third was another marathon duel. The way Robbie and Tanner were driving, you'd think they were battling for the season championship!
After two OMT's, Robbie ended up grazing the wall. This threw off his drift and Tanner was finally awarded the third spot on the podium. In a way, this drawn-out fight almost overshadowed the final match between Tuerck and Hubinette, who were waiting patiently in the staging area.
Finally, the final battle of FD Long Beach began. Both Sam and Ryan drove well, but it only took one run for the judges to declare a winner…
Ryan Tuerck in the Gardella Racing Pontiac Solstice was named Formula D Long Beach winner after his battle with Hubinette. This was Ryan's first Formula D victory, but not a surprising one given how great he's been driving lately.
Again, congrats to Ryan and the Gardella Racing crew for their victory in the first round of the 2009 Formula D season.
OK, time for me to pack up for the Long Beach Grand Prix!