I just returned home to the blazing hot confines of California, and now it's time to dig in and take a closer look at the action from the weekend's Formula D event in Seattle. With big crashes, close calls, and many upsets – it was one of the year's more exciting FD rounds for sure. While we media guys are working hard on our Seattle coverage, the FD teams and drivers are working even harder to get prepped for FD Sonoma, which will start only 10 days from now.
Oh what a crazy month this will be.
You've got to expect big crashes on a concrete-lined course like the one in Seattle. Tommy Suell was one of the drivers who encountered the wall, but his hit was not nearly as bad as Dai Yoshihara's. From what I've heard, the Falken Lexus is done and Dai will likely be in a backup car at Sonoma later this month.
Rhys Millen continues to struggle in Formula D this year. The Red Bull Genesis had lots of speed, but couldn't match the angle that many of the other cars were capable of. Rhys would end up being eliminated by Ken Gushi in the Top 32.
The Pro Am guys entertained throughout the event. There's the Skyline Shop R32 sedan sporting a whole weekend's worth of battle scars. Since the car is sponsored by the Skyline Shop, I can't imagine replacement parts will be too hard to source.
Roland Gallagher tearing up the banking in his nicely stanced (is that a word?) S13.
While walking through the pits, I snapped this picture of Joon Maeng's car loaded up with camera equipment. I agree with what Rod said about all the cameras diluting the lines of the cars, though I'm sure they produce some nice footage.
The new R-Magic exterior on Ryuji Miki's FD took a beating over the course of the weekend.
This is what the rear end looked like after some quick repairs on Friday. By Saturday night, the once expensive JDM rear bumper would be nothing more than a shredded piece of fiberglass.
The title "Sleepless in Seattle" could easily be used to describe the adventures of Ross Petty and his crew over the weekend. More on this later.
Stephan Verdier's Subaru shining nicely on Friday morning before things got under way.
I thought this rear shot of Ken Gushi's monkey bars came out kind of cool. Both his and Tanner Foust's Scion's are genuine marvels of drift car engineering.
Yep, it's the U.P. Garage RB-powered S13 that was the talk of the weekend. This thing could easily pass as a show car, but fortunately it does a lot more than just sit around looking pretty.
Ron Ewerth giving it a go in his Titan-powered G35 Coupe. You can hear the Drift Emporium cars coming a mile away with their whining supercharged V8's.
One of the highlights of the tandem competition was the all-86 Top 32 battle between Yasu Kondo and Taka Aono. Surprisingly, Kondo was able to defeat Taka the Hachiroku master and move on to the Top 16.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. simply had Evergreen Speedway on lock the entire weekend.
Tanner Foust is a tough opponent, but JR displayed lightning fast transitions and unmatched angle around the banking. Because of this, he advanced from what in my view was the day's most exciting battle.
In the end the competition came down to four drivers – Vaughn Gittin Jr., Eric O' Sullivan, Tyler McQuarrie, and Chris Forsberg.
During JR and O'Sullivans second run, there was accidental contact between the two cars on the bank, causing both of them to spin. I didn't have a good vantage point from where I was standing, but it was decided that JR was the first to make contact, thus handing the win to O'Sullivan. His WRX was heavily damaged though, and because he wouldn't be to drive in the final he'd finish by default in second place. Vaughn Gittin Jr. would face the loser of the next match for third place. Got it?
Now this meant that the semi-final match between Tyler McQuarrie and Chris Forsberg would actually determine the winner. Their first run was incredibly close, but on the second run Tyler came in too aggressive and ended up spinning on the exit to the bank. In a unique turn of events, Chris Forsberg and the NOS Energry Drink Z had clinched victory at Formula D Seattle.
There was still one more battle though, the third place match between the two Falken V8's of Gittin Jr. and McQuarrie. Both drove as hard as ever, but in the end judges decided that McQuarrie had earned the third spot on the podium.
After Chris Forsberg made a solo victory lap, the three drivers headed to the podium for the celebration where they doused each other (and a bunch of onlookers) in champagne. It was a great end to another exciting chapter of the 2009 Formula D season.
I'll be back soon with more from Formula D Seattle!