Rain, hail and shine. The opening day of FD Long Beach quite literally had it all.
Look one way and you had the picturesque backdrop that you'd expect at Long Beach, with blue skies and the sun shining down…
…But look the other way and you had the dark, ominous clouds that threatened to unleash a load of rain.
And unleash they did.
Uh oh. The first signs of rain started to drop during the morning practice session, with the startline drenched in a matter of minutes. There were small pellets of hail too, which was quite surreal considering the sun was still shining.
The number of cars out on-track dropped significantly when the rain came down. One driver who didn't seem to mind was D-Mac.
The track temperature dropped with the downpour, so drivers were using every inch of the hot zone to warm up their tyres.
Not only was I soaking wet, but I was also deaf after getting a bit too close to Ross Petty's rasta Silvia.
Dai was one of the drivers to continually try his hand at the wet track, which many reported was like an ice rink.
The rain didn't last long however, and the Californian sun soon dried the track so normal service could resume.
Matt Powers has been working around the clock on the TNFS S14. Besides the media day, Matt hasn't driven it since the engine swap and new suspension. Here his team are doing some adjustments to the wheel alignment.
In spite of the bags under his eyes and the lack of testing, Matt threw the S14 up into 4th position for tomorrow's Top 32 battles.
Ken Gushi took tyre warming to a whole new level.
Chris Forsberg's 370Z grabbed a lot of attention…
…And it performed well on the track, with Chris securing 16th spot.
TNFS driver Fredric Aasbo also had very limited seat time in the Scion tC, so the morning rain during practice didn't help his cause.
Fredric qualified for tomorrow, and the Scion was certainly potent in the late afternoon practice session.
Quite possibly my favourite pic from today was this gem by Linhbergh.
Dai was in unbelievable form and was putting in impressive lap after impressive lap.
He was the quickest car through the first speed trap, and narrowly missed the top qualifying spot by 0.1 of a point.
Essa's Z4 is the last remaining roofless car in FD.
Rhys Millen's Hyundai smoke machine. After every lap, a huge wave of smoke – along with a nice spray of Korean rubber – would engulf the media photographers.
Jeff Abbott flying the flag for the Miata fans.
Matt Field's blinding S14 was certainly a crowd favourite.
Perhaps it has something to do with his proximity to the wall.
Justin Pawlak was another driver who wasn't afraid to swing his car within millimetres of the concrete.
Alex Pfeiffer misjudged the corner ever so slightly, taking out his Z33's bumper.
Joon Maeng clipped the tires on the exit of the first turn, but comfortably made it into Top 32 having qualified 23rd.
Conrad Grunewald claimed a much deserved top qualifying spot. You can see in this pic just how much angle he was getting!
Walker Wilkerson put in strong performances throughout practice and qualifying.
Case in point.
Sorry, I couldn't resist. I just had to follow up on Mike's post with another photo of Mike Skudlarek's 180SX!
The big surprise involved the reigning Formula D champion.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. made a couple of mistakes during his qualifying runs, which meant he didn't proceed to the Top 32. That said, he put down some formidable passes during practice, so I'm confident he'll be back in the mix at Road Atlanta.
28 year old Luke Lonberger went nose first into the barriers…
…But fortunately it looked like the 'Vette only suffered superficial damage, however it meant he didn't qualify for tomorrow's battles.
Anyway, I think that's enough from Day One of FD. I have six hours to grab some sleep before I'll be at the track again, squeezing my camera through one of the holes in the fence!
- Charles Kha
Photos by Linhbergh Nguyen and Charles Kha
Full Qualifying Drivers – Top 32:
1. Conrad Grunewald
2. Daijiro Yoshihara
3. Kyle Mohan
4. Matt Powers
5. Rhys Millen
6. Darren McNamara
7. Walker Wilkerson
8. Tyler McQuarrie
9. John Russakoff
10. Ryan Tuerck
11. Justin Pawlak
12. Matt Field
13. Matt Waldin
14. Jeff Abbott
15. Ross Petty
16. Chris Forsberg
17. Michael Essa
18. Ken Gushi
19. Dennis Mertz
20. Charles Ng
21. Alex Pfeiffer
22. Cyrus Martinez
23. Joon Maeng
24. Fredric Aasbo
25. Taka Aono
26. Otto Graven
27. Mike Feiock
28. Dean Kearney
29. Jeff Jones
30. Patrick Mordaunt
31. Odi Bakchus
32. Toshiki Yoshioka