With Daijiro Yoshihara knocked out early in the competition, Justin Pawlak took the chance to increase his lead in the Formula Drift Championship. At this point it is still too early to tell who will take the top honor in the drifting world, but nothing will stop Justin if he keeps driving the way he did this past weekend.
It was great to see Vaughn Gittin Jr back in the groove – he qualified second with a 97.5 out of 100. I think his Mustang is the best-looking car on the grid this year.
The car is pretty much identical to Justin Pawlak’s Mustang, which means Vaughn had a huge power boost this year.
I had the chance to check out where this car was born earlier in the week – if you guys have not already seen it, check it out here.
We’ve been waiting a long time for the battle between Vaughn Gittin Jr and Daigo Saito. They met once before in China, but Daigo brought his A-game this time. Vaughn was super aggressive as usual and it looked like he was going to move on, but one mistake cost him the win.
Every now and then a lower-qualifying driver knocks out a much higher-qualifying driver in the Top 32 bracket. Ryan Tuerck did just that when he qualified 24th and knocked out Daijiro Yoshihara, who had qualified ninth.
Our very own Matt Powers qualified a very solid seventh place with only three practice runs under his belt. He got knocked out by Odi Bakchis in the Top 16, so ended up watching the rest of the event from the sidelines. Stay tuned for an event overview from Matt’s perspective.
Matt’s team-mate Fredric Aasbo had a breakout performance this past weekend, the like I have never seen. It was almost as if he was back in his Toyota Supra, the way he whipped that Scion tC2 around. He qualified third with a 96.5, which is a personal best.
It’s pretty rare to see a non-V8 battle in Formula Drift nowadays, so I was ecstatic to see Fredric go up against Daigo Saito. When it came to the finals he pulled a Matt Powers and turned it up to 11 – and went off course. He was still happy to get second place.
Chelsa Denofa made the second most smoke behind Daigo Saito. It is just so fun to watch him drive. In fact when he went up against Daigo in the Top 32 bracket it was nearly impossible to see or breath if you were track-side.
Joon Maeng served up a come-back special after pulling off run after awesome run all weekend. In the Top 8 bracket he gave Walker Wilkerson a love-tap that caused him to spin. Joon has become such an entertaining driver to watch, plus his car sounds like firecrackers at a Chinese wedding.
The Atlanta native, Dennis Mertzanis, also had a breakout performance that suprised everybody. It seems like he is finally getting his new ride dialed in. He qualified in 14th place, which was a personal best.
It appears that the Road Atlanta course is the best place to practice reverse entries. Many people tried it, but few succeeded.
Mike Essa pretty much perfected the reverse entry in his BMW Z4. He mentioned to me that he never had a problem in his E46 M3, but the Z4 has always been too twitchy. He got it dialed in just right and ended up with one of the highest qualifying scores in recent Formula Drift history with a 98, just two points away from a perfect run.
Road Atlanta is one of the most beautiful tracks in North America, from its red, clay-like dirt to its rolling grass hills. What’s not to like?
Make sure you click on the thumbnails to download a boatload of these desktops!