Gallery>>fd Long Beach Top 16 Highlights

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…

-Mike Garrett

Speedhunters Formula D Long Beach Coverage



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

man it seems FD judges always ruin the good times for the crowd.


i really hope Hubinette puts those stupid roller-blade wheels to use with the Challenger instead of brake-checking everyone


Go Jeff Jones!!! =D


@ BlueSlug: I HEARD THAT!


...boring. Can't believe a tC beat an S15 piloted by a former D1 champ.


Tanner derserved the win, simply brilliant in the new car. Wait till they get it sorted!!


there alot of good cars in FD this year
LOVING ross petty's S15 & Tanner's TC V8
we need some more cars like this in the UK


we are going to need to see some wallpapers !!


Sam brake checking? Come on... that's like saying he's not good enough to just out drift the other guy, and has to throw in a brake check to make sure they'll spin out.

What a wuss.

Lost all respect for him.


thanks for the in-depth coverage mike! this is awesome getting to see highlights and the outcome of each and every match-up!


Oh how the mighty are falling.


Part of the judging issue is that the judges have to stick to the official standards while the crowd will go off of excitement, feeling, and driver biases.

If judging was based on the crowd there would be no consistent standards for the drivers to base their runs off of. It would be whoever looked better on that particular run and not who fulfilled all the judging categories the best.

In FD the rules are the following driver has to mirror the lead driver regardless of what the lead driver does (with some exceptions for blatant issues caused by the lead).

If said driver is consistently left foot braking for the last slow hairpin and ends up taking that corner slower than many of the other drivers are used to it is the following driver's fault if they spin or hit the lead for not adapting. Their spotter should have warned them and the judges have to follow the established guidelines regardless of crowd reaction.

JR took matters into his own hands and told Sam he better not lift when he's following at the expense of advancing.

So think of what the actual rules are to better understand the Judges decisions. If the judges are not sticking to the rules then you have an issue. If you can't handle subjective judging then go pay attention to road racing or something. There are plenty of competitions and sports that rely on judging and they are no less legitimate for it.

I don't like OMT's and think from a competition standpoint they should be used very sparingly but the judges do seem to use them a bit too much to hype up the crowd.


I agree this whole break checking bs should be an automatic points deduction, it's the kind of thing best saved for street battles not for the professional scene, I would like to believe that as professionals in their own regard they wouldn't need to resort to such tactics to stay competitive. I have been thinking about Sam's brake checking ever since Josh Herron's video and all I can think of as to why he does it is a dirty tactic for the hairpin which he cannot find a way to properly maneuver with his car without the hard check. It is a good strategy from a tactics standpoint but it only works as long as the judges go along with it because there is no doubt in anyone's mind that such tactics show a lack of true skill in certain situations i.e. sharp hairpin. I have to say I have lost a bit of respect for Mr. Hubinette, he needs to have modesty and humbleness with his skill realizing that yes, someday a tiny 86 or 180 or w/e may beat you; just another one to throw in the many books of handling overcoming raw power.


i thought JTP retired that car a few months back?? or something like that"""""Justin's FC is now officially retired from competitive professional drifting""


I was at the event and the judges used the OMT when they felt the drivers were pussy footing around and not going all out, not just to hype the crowd.