Alright then, let’s jump straight into the next part of our coverage of the tandem competition at Formula D Long Beach – the Top 16. After a quick lunch break after Top 32 wrapped up, the next part of the event started off with introductions for the 16 remaining drivers who’d be competing against each other in the afternoon.
The Top 16 kicked off with Chris Forsberg going against Stephan Verdier, who had the awesome victory over Rhys Millen during the Top 32. This was another crazy battle that took a One More Time to finish. Neither of these two were holding anything back.
One of the things the judges were looking for was for the drivers to stay wide and retain speed through the last hairpin. As you can see from Linh’s shot here – both Forsberg and Verdier kept on it the whole way through. After two runs, the underdog Verdier was declared the winner. Regardless of how the rest his day would go, Verdier had to have been happy with his results – first beating Millen and then Forsberg who was the #1 qualifier and a favorite to win the event.
The next match was between Quoc Ly and Robbie Nishida, another driver who was on top of his game in Long Beach. Quoc put up a good fight, but it was Robbie who would advance to the Great Eight.
Next was a rather mismatched battle (from a machine standpoint) as Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s Mustang was matched up Yasu Kondo’s AE86.
Kondo was certainly the David in this David v. Goliath match, but sometimes Goliath wins. JR advances to the Great Eight.
The next fight would be one of the day’s biggest – Justin Pawlak vs Sam Hubinette. It was obvious whose side the crowd was on for this one…
Despite the obvious difference in cars, JTP and Sam were door-to-door throughout their battle. A One More Time was called when the judges couldn’t determine a winner after one match. The crowd was VERY into this fight.
During the second run, JTP was caught up by Sam’s braking in the transition to the hairpin. I wasn’t able to see from my viewpoint, but this was one of the most talked about parts of the event. The judges ruled in Sam’s favor and the Viper would go on to the Great Eight. As you’d expect, the crowd was not happy with this ruling.
Next was an all-V8 battle as Darren McNamara faced Tony Brakohiapa.
D-Mac ended up spinning, and Tony and the Mustang slid into the Great Eight. It was a great day for him!
Next, we saw a pair of vastly different GM sports cars facing each other during the battle between Conrad Grunewald and Ryan Tuerck. This was another one of the many matches on Saturday that required a One More Time.
Here’s where things get interesting. Ryan leads Conrad into main corner, as seen here from Linh’s perspective.
Ryan comes in aggressively as he’d been doing all weekend. Conrad doesn’t back down as he keeps the ‘Vette close to the Solstice…
Tuerck puts the Solstice right up to the tire wall. Will Conrad follow?
The heavier Corvette just wasn’t able to come in as precise as the more nimble Solstice. Conrad clipped the tire wall and spun – bringing moderate damage to the ‘Vette’s body.
It seems like all the crashes at Long Beach happened right in front of me. The Tanaka Racing team has a lot of work to do before Atlanta next month! Ryan Tuerck would obviously advance to the Great Eight.
Next up was in my view was one of the day’s best matches – Tanner Faust vs. Katsuhiro Ueo.
Look at how close these two are! It’s just what you’d expect from the match between a former D1 champ and a two-time FD champ. Tanner would be declared the victor here, but it was a fine showing for Ueo’s first round of Formula D competition – especially considering the crash he had on Friday morning. I can’t wait to see him in action next time.
Finishing up the Top 16 was a match between Taka Aono and privateer Jeff Jones.
This was another fight that required a second round before the winner could be determined. In the end it was Taka that came out on top, but Jeff must be thrilled with the outcome of his first-ever Formula D event.
And with that, the remaining 16 drivers had been reduced to eight.
To be continued…