Formula Drift Finals: How It All Went Down
Final fight

The tire smoke has settled, and Michael Essa in the GSR Autosport BMW E46 has come out on top as the 2013 Formula Drift Champion. I wanted to give you guys a little insight on how it went down. This Formula Drift championship was unlike any other as there’s still lots of controversy surrounding the events that happened that fateful night at Irwindale Speedway. I pick up where I left off in my qualifying post with Michael Essa qualifying on top and Chris Forsberg in eighth. The two titans are just 24.5 points apart going into main competition.


After qualifying, Mike was glowing as he told me that he was not going to hold back, and the key to winning the championship will be a great qualifying run. Without a doubt he threw down an amazing run.


Aside from Essa earning his first championship there were many other firsts that night, including privateer Forrest Wang getting on the podium for the very first time. What a great way to finish off the year for this young driver with one of the best drifting styles around. In the beginning of this year we featured his car, and he told me that hopefully if he did well enough he could pick up some more sponsors. I know for a fact that he will be back next year with a bigger and better program.


Tyler Mcquarrie ended up getting second place after losing to Daigo Saito in the finals, but before the weekend started, that podium finish was quite a distance away for Tyler – he’s had one of the toughest years so far. It seems that nothing has gone right with his program. Although, what better way to end the year than with a podium finish.


Two drivers who have really garnered quite a bit of attention recently had to battle against each other in the top 32. Robbie Nishida has been competing in professional drifting for as long as I can remember, and after years of struggling it seems he has finally found his groove. This was such a breakout year for him and I am sure we will see him again on the podium next year.


Danny George ended up getting two top 16 finishes this year – not bad considering it was only his second year competing in Formula Drift. On top of that, his entire program is crowd funded, aside from help with a few things like tires etc. He even won favorite car of the year as voted on by the Formula Drift fans.

Ready for war

Chris Forsberg went into qualifying as always shooting for first place, but ended up in eighth. It was not ideal for the championship chase, but it would land him in a very interesting bracket.


Many other teams coming into Irwindale, including Mike Essa, added more power with nitrous kits etc. Chris and the rest of the team decided that they got this far running a reliable program all year, so they should just stick to what has worked for them.


There was no point in adding more power just to pop the motor early in competition.


The GSR Autosports team had a different strategy altogether. They were going to go all in and push super hard all weekend. It showed right off the bat as they qualified in first, almost three points ahead of second place qualifier Vaughn Gittin, Jr.


The GSR Autosport team was tiny, with most people doing two or three jobs. As a privateer you have to cut costs and work with what you have.


I’ve been following Mike for years now and I watched him start from pro-am to where he is now. He is also very lucky that he has a family that fully supports his efforts as a professional drifter.


Even Essa’s newest member of the family was out to cheer him on. His Daughter was born just this year.


With the addition of nitrous, the BMW was putting out more power than it was all year. There was no way he could tell what was going to happen next.


During practice everything seemed alright. All Mike had to do was get into the top 16 and it would be much harder for Chris Forsberg to nab his second championship.


In the top 32 bracket Mike was going against his buddy Luke Pakula, whom he started drifting with years ago. Luke just earned his FD license last year and this year was his rookie year in FD. They are both part of the drift crew Slide Assassins, in fact Luke was wearing Michael’s old race suit from when he started in FD.


However, if Mike did not make it to the top 16 bracket, then Chris Forsberg just needed to beat Daijiro Yoshihara to earn his second championship. At this point, everyone figured it would be easy for Essa to win it considering his lead.

Going to battle

Come top 32 Mike went out guns blazing. He went all out, just like during his qualifying run. His opponent was nowhere to be found. It was not looking good for Forsberg at this point, because Essa would just have to do one more run and he would be in the top 16. Which of course means there would be a great chance that Essa could meet Forsberg in the top 8.


But then something went wrong, and Essa could barely stay in drift to finish the run. I was not sure what happened at first, but I heard moans in the crowd. I looked over and I saw everybody rushing towards a smoking BMW drift car.


Was it on fire? Just to be sure the safety crew went to check it out. It was not on fire, but the motor was not running. This was not looking good at all.


Mike had no idea what happened. He just told me that he had to clutch kick many times just to stay in drift at the end of the course.


The team was frantic; they were running out of time. Since Luke got a zero on the first run, Essa had to at least pull to the line for their second run if they wanted to move on to the top 16 bracket.


His crew checked out the motor but it was not looking good.


The engine had seized and it would not start. The starter just clicked, but it could not turn the motor over.


The guys tried to push start it, but it just would not turn over at all. So they called for a competition time out.


Luke sat on the line waiting for his friend. Now this is when it gets interesting. Luke pulled off the line because he said his car was not working properly and he forfeited the run, which effectively gave him double zeros.


Mike was absolutely crushed. This was pretty much the worst thing that could happen to end a dream season.


He tried turning over the motor just one last time to make sure that it was over and he gave up.


The crew pushed the car away. Little did they know Formula Drift was in debate on whether or not to award the win to Essa or not because Luke forfeited.


The team just sat and waited for the result.


This must have been the longest few minutes of Mike’s life. Just sitting in his broken car, wondering what will happen. The championship was out of his hands at this point.


Chris Forsberg watched all of that commotion unfold, but he had no time to think as he was up against 2011 champion, Daijiro Yoshihara, in the top 32.


At this point Chris had no idea that Essa’s battle was still up in the air. Mathematically, if Essa was knocked out of the top 32, it meant that Forsberg had to beat Dai to win the Championship.


I am sure Daijiro had that in the back of his mind as well going into this epic battle. Even though he was not having such a stellar year, he was still going to charge super hard.


Dai let it all hang out, scraping the wall on the inner bank all the way.


However he could not shake Forsberg. It was up to the judges at this point.


The call came in that Forsberg would take the win, but he did not celebrate, as word came in that Essa would move on to the top 16 despite his broken car.


Chris was not happy at all. He felt that he should have won his second championship right then and there.


To top it all off, his VK56-powered 370z was overheating badly. He would have to win the championship the hard way. Now he would have to earn second place or better in order to take the lead from Essa.


His crew helped him push the Z-car back to the pits, so they could regroup and move on to battle for the championship.

A new champion

The top 16 introduction was bitter sweet as Essa’s BMW could not make it. Over the course of the half-time break, Chris Forsberg’s team filed two protests with Formula Drift hoping to overturn Micheal Essa’s win against Luke Pakula. Formula Drift rejected both protests.


With Essa out of the picture, all he could do was watch as Forsberg battled his way through the ranks. It started with Odi Bakchis in the top 16 bracket.


After an intense battle the judges called for a ‘One More Time,’ but both cars were having trouble. The 370z was still overheating.


Essa even helped Odi’s team push the car back to the hot pits.


When it came time to battle again, Chris laid down an amazing lead run and ended up moving on to the top 8 bracket.


Essa was not very pleased. He just wanted it to be over already, win or lose; it was such an emotional rollercoaster. He just hated that he was on the sidelines watching as a spectator and that he could not change the outcome of the night.


Surprisingly, as I predicted in my earlier post, Daigo Saito would be the deciding factor for the 2013 championship.


Drifting history was unfolding as they took off for Forsberg’s lead run. Daigo was very close and he was following Chris’s every move.


The two FD Champions battled super hard, but Forsberg could not keep up with Daigo. It was up to the judges at this point, but it was not looking good for Forsberg.


All eyes were on Micheal Essa as we all waited for the judges’ verdict. It took much longer than anticipated. The first judge voted for a ‘One More time.’  Essa did not move a muscle. The second judge voted for Daigo. Everyone gasped.


When the third and final judge revealed his vote for Daigo Saito, the crowd erupted. Privateer Micheal Essa was the 2013 Formula Drift Champion.


However, it was a bitter sweet victory. I am not sure if it was his soft-spoken nature, but he did not celebrate like past champions, jumping on cars, climbing on fences, and getting thrown in the air by his peers. There was still a tension in the air.


Either way I could tell that he was very relieved. An entire season’s work led up to this one moment. All the weight of the championship was lifted off his shoulders. As he said before, he did not even expect to be in the chase for the championship in the beginning of the year. It did not really come to fruition until Formula Drift Texas, when he fully realized that he stood a chance of taking the title.


Drifting’s top honor was decided, but the battle for the podium was still on. Forrest Wang went against Tyler McQuarrie for a spot in the finals. The Hawaiian native could not keep up with Tyler which meant he would have to face Robbie Nishida for third place.


Robbie drove a little too hard and made contact with the wall, gifting the win and the last podium spot to Forrest Wang.


I was so sure that Tyler McQuarrie would take the win against Daigo ‘The Ninja’ Saito, because in Tyler’s lead run, Daigo hit a cone which zeroed him out for that run. All Tyler had to do was complete a clean run and he would take the win, just like he did back in 2011 at the very same event.


As Fredric Aasbø once told me, every drifter has a bag of tricks, and they utilize them in battle. He said that Daigo Saito has the biggest bag of tricks out of them all.


Daigo lead Tyler into the wall super hard and won the 2013 Formula Drift finals at Irwindale Speedway.


The Californian native and professional racing driver was not happy with his performance. He was so close to glory once again. What a way to finish off a season.


Bruised and battered, but the Chevy Camaro will drift again.


During the press conference Michael mentioned that he was not very happy about his motor going so early on, as he wanted to battle for the championship with Chris Forsberg head to head in the top 8. That really would have been epic.


The sport has changed so much in ten years. Maybe it’s a good thing that a privateer took the championship this year. It gives hope to all the up-and-coming drifters of tomorrow. There’s no way that this sport I love will grow without new blood. What do you guys think about Micheal Essa’s Championship?



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I feel Mike Essa truly deserves the championship. He's been quite an underdog for quite some time. It's quite refreshing to see a privateer win the top honour.
Personally, I'd like to see Fredric Aasbo win the title next season. He's also another underdog who deserves something for all the effort that he has put into the sport.

Seeking Perfection

I am glad that Essa won the championship. Although my favorite drifters are Daigo and Chelsea, I feel like that Essa deserved the championship more than the Douche Alliance bros, their poor excuses, dirty tricks, protests and all that drama caused by drinking so many energy drinks. Maybe the should put Tony back to the judges table in order to be more useful for them again. However, there is one thing for sure. Like Fredric implied, Daigo makes all his competitors seem like schoolboys with regard to skill level.  wonder why he is not backed by his automaker's factory like JR or Gushi are. He is definitely the best in the business (FD and D1 champion), he aint losing his cool or gets involved in politics while managing 1200hp under his throttle pedal. All things considered, Tanner and Daigo are the best drifters to ever compete in FD. Good luck finding new ones because this year's FD rookies are a huge failure. Congratulations to Essa!


@Seeking Perfection Chris Forsberg was well within his right to file a protest. Every round there are at least a few protests. Formula Drift Texas this year had a record 6 protests.
If the FD rule book was followed word for word, then Micheal Essa would have lost in the top 32, because 1. he did not pull to the line and 2. he called for a competition time out, but he could not repair his car in time, which means he forfeits the round.
However, the judges and the Formula Drift officials deemed that it was Micheal Essa who should move on to the top 16.
As for Daigo, he admitted that he is not much of a businessman, but he knows how to do one thing and he does it quite well. He just loves to drift and he drifts more than anyone else in the world. He is just glad to be able to making a living drifting all over the world.


jay8393 I don't really consider Fredric Aasbo an underdog anymore. He is factory backed. I consider him a front runner and I was putting my money on him to be the 2013 Formula Drift Champion.


It was fixed, there are too many coincidences with the whole Luke/Essa thing. Best buds, in the same drifting group( same as DA), Luke was wearing Essa's old firesuit ect.


Mike Peters i would not be surprised if Luke leaving the line and forfeiting was his own bias, but why would formula D fix a round, or an entire championship to support a relatively unsponsored privateer?? They wouldn't because either way you look at it, it doesn't make sense businesswise and I gotta believe that Ryan Sage and Jim Liaw are not idiots. In fact i'd suggest you meet them and find out for yourself. If FD where to fix things, then if anybody, they'd have put tyler mcquarrie through because of the GoPro sponsorship of the series....yet obviously that hasn't happened +.0


Larry Chen jay8393 Larry, how many Norwegians slept under your pool table this time?? ;-)


Bro love between Pakula and Essa
A new rivalry between Forsberg and Essa
More sights set on Daigo to take him down
Daigo, eating ramen at home, wondering what's going on
Slide Assassins against Drift Alliance
Find out in the 2014 season of FD...


LouisYio Pakula and Essa have always been bros.
I am interested in seeing what will come out of this rivalry.
Now that Daigo got his ECU problems worked out we can see what he can really do. I have a feeling he will earn his 2nd championship next year.


JSequoia Mike Peters FD is not out there to make the big bucks. They are still a relatively small series with lots of passion. Fixing the series would be the worst thing they could do.


JSequoia We did not have a packed house this time, it was just 8 guys.

Seeking Perfection

LouisYio Whilst I might agree with you, dont you think that JR would have done the same thing for his homeboy Forsberg? Dont forget the fact that Tangelo used to be a judge while being a part  of DA. They might call you ignorant or not being an expert, but facts are facts. DA members are operating on big budgets, well known sponsors and if I am not mistaken they are backed by factories. I bet Daigo does not even care about all this drama because he managed to embarass all those FD veterans with his competence. Has he ever filed a protest? Not even when Gittin kept smashing his door like a monumental douche. Imagine what would happen if Scion, sponsored this guy. Regardless of all that, I feel that Denofa is the next big thing. I am not sure that Essa can get a championship again.

Seeking Perfection

Larry Chen Mechne  They claim that this check is fake and it is posted as a parody of what might happened.


@Seeking Perfection LouisYio Out of all the DA guys, Vaughn is the only one who has 100% factory support. Forsberg and Angelo still have small operations. Both teams have the buddies that they grew up with as support crew. I most definitely would not say they are operating on super high budgets. Forsberg does have more sponsors, but you have to remember that these dudes started from the beginning. They put in their time towing their cars with open trailers etc... They did not just come into the sport with factory support.
Daigo himself would never file a protest, that is up to the Achilles Radial team. Daigo does not even listen at drivers meetings, lol.
I also agree that Denofa is going to be a big deal, but I also think Essa will put up a fight to earn his second championship.


@Seeking Perfection Dramatization


And was Luke in the running? If he was clearly behind in points then it's his choice to forfeit to give a friend a chance even amid huge setbacks. Like seized engines and shiz =P I don't think it's fixing, that would involve people in contention stepping out of the way to let someone else win, and they didn't do that, they battled, they fought for points, and they ultimately didn't gain enough. But when it's a points based system that's bound to happen =)


Larry Chen JSequoia  Only 8? I'll have come back next year and crash on your floor. But don't worry larry, I'll bring the beer.


Larry Chen LouisYio Dont forget about Odi! His battle with Forsberg was pretty epic I would say. Next year will be really interesting with the rumor of more events and Irwindale supposedly being closed again. Also Wang and Nishida are 2 to really look out for. Just my 2 cents :)


I watched this live and just went "HOW THE FUCK DID SAITO WIN OVER FORSEBERG????" he lacked angle, was wavering all over the place, it was not pretty.
It is the second time at Irwindale i think he has won without deserving it (Matt Field AND Conrad Grundewald drove better last year)


Who else wants to see the Style King: Forrest Wang get a Championship?!?!

Who cares if its possible? Anything is possible in drifting!


How rad is that that Essa won this year? Unconventional car, privateer budget, super nice guy. Sounds like something they'll make a movie about twenty years from now.


OysteinTeigland Yeah I agree. I mean if anything that should have been a one more time. I don't believe Diago won that battle


sean klingelhoefer Not to mention it was his first year campaigning this car.


@MichaelC He did get 3rd at Irwindale. Anything is possible at this point.


Project 350ZTT OysteinTeigland Well that is why one of the judges voted for OMT. That really was part of the controversy as well.


Project 350ZTT LouisYio You are right, I think the only thing holding Odi back are the tires he is running. He debeaded twice in a row in Seattle.


InnerToxicity Yeah, you are right, Luke was not in the running at all. It's not morally wrong, it's just the technical aspect of it that gets a little crazy. Because technically Luke did pull to the line first.


Mechne I mentioned this in one of my earlier comments, but Luke was in his right to do whatever he wants to do. Formula Drift or anyone has no right to tell him to run if he does not want to run. What is getting a lot of attention is the decision that the FD officials had to make. Whether to give the win to Luke or Essa. They deemed it fair that Essa should move on due to Luke forfeiting even though Essa's car was broken as well.
I asked Luke earlier in the day before competition what he will do going against his friend Essa. He told me that he was just going to have fun. I mean what would you do in that situation?


Jarrod Moore Blue moon and fat tire please...


Pakula is such a sweet guy, and he's a hero for running a Hachiroku, it's too bad those issues came up =[ totally stoked about Essa's win! Privateers are an inspiring bunch!


Forget the FD champion schmampion - who won took the pro ho VD top honors?

Go Essa - a win is a win - I smell a Pampers sponsorship.


I could see a rule change next year also in the FD rule book, with something about when forfeiting a race they will have to validate in some way why they could not run. We all know Pakula forfeited for his buddy to win, although Essa did put up a damn good fight all year long and is a great driver.


Project 350ZTT FD verified Luke's broken transmission.


If Chris wanted the championship so bad, he should've won it with his driving.  Trying to win on a protest call cheapened his brand in my eyes.  Crying about it on Facebook was even worse.  If you think Corey Hosford or Tony "How am I even driving in FD?" Angelo wouldn't throw a round for Chris if the situation presented itself, you're crazy.


Larry Chen I meant to say, he's that one guy who just can't seem to catch his big break. But he never stops trying, and that's one quality that I admire in him.


sean klingelhoefer This new chasis worked out for him well, I'd say. I still like his near reverse-entries at Road Atlanta. Seriously, BMW should consider giving him a bit of factory backing.


Simply P Easier said than done. He did drive the wheels off of that 370z. He was not trying to win on a protest call, he was just trying to get Formula Drift to follow their own rule book.


Simply P I seriously doubt it.


Mechne In the end of the day this is what keeps the sport interesting. I think it's great that people are talking about it. Honestly, it could have gone either way. It was much closer than everyone though. It came down to a call from the FD officials.


jay8393 Big break? You mean a win? He has had a few podiums, but the win for some reason always slips out of his hands.


My feelings towards this whole "controversy" is that if Forsberg thought he got screwed out of it, he shouldn't have been in that position. I'm sure there are places throughout the season that he had the opportunity to gain a couple points here and a couple points there. Racing isn't football, where every game changes things drastically. Winners don't get there by being lucky or having a call go their way, they get there by being consistent all season long. There is no controversy in my eyes, Essa beat Forsberg all season long.


Seems a bit personal in response, not sure what the business relationship is between speed hunters and formula d. Anyway.


Larry Chen Simply P No 4th gear = Broken


Larry Chen Simply PI missed the rules violation, I think.  Even if they could PROVE that Luke threw the round (which they couldn't), there was no way for them to PROVE that Mike or his team had anything to do with it.  So even if they found that Luke's car wasn't broken (and with no 4th gear IT WAS), all they could've done was award him a zero, which makes Mike the winner of the round anyway.  It was an obvious attempt to win on a protest call.

To maintain safety in the competition, during tandem competition runs
only, teams may call for a Competition Timeout to make any necessary
repairs. Competition Timeout’s are not allowed for Practice or
Qualifying. Competition Timeout’s are not to be used for strategic
purposes. Only the designated team representative will be allowed to
request the Competition Timeout, and it must be made through a FORMULA
DRIFT OFFICIAL. Only the COMPETITION MANAGER may grant a Competition
Timeout. Team will not be granted a Competition Timeout if it is
believed to be unwarranted. Competition Timeout’s are allowed for a
maximum of five (5) minutes and are to be administered by the
Competitors who fail to make the necessary repairs the allotted time
limits will be disqualified from the competition and forfeit to the
opposing driver.
Teams may only use one (1) Competition Timeout throughout the
competition. Additional and concurrent Competition Timeout requests are
not allowed unless cited in other sections of these rules.
Competition Timeout repairs must be completed either trackside or in the pre-grid


NoahDaniel My sentiments exactly.  And I don't even have a dog in this fight -I'm a JTP fan- but yeah...


Larry Chen JSequoia I slept in the garage. :)


Simply P Yes I understand this. Like I said before, it does not matter if Luke could have run or not, It's entirely up to him and of course the outcome was Formula Drift deeming it fair that Essa should move on.


Simply P it does not matter if it was broken or not. You have to remember because ESSA could not pull to the line, Luke could have just waited there at the line and do NOTHING and still get the win.


Larry Chen Simply P


Larry Chen JSequoia Mike Peters   Of course they are out there to make the big bucks,   every business is,  and you wont get any sponsorship saying otherwise.   Not to mention seeing Andy high fiving his buddy and bragging about making 7K on that over flow lot was a bit of a bummer,   especially since it took an hour and a half to park and get to the gate.
They dont "fix" the series,  but the judges are definatly influenced by money/sponsors/fan favorites.


Simply P Larry Chen But still drivable. and like said earlier all he had to do was wait at the line to get the win.


Larry Chen Simply P But here is what is interesting. Luke was obviously planning on running against Essa or else he wouldn't have ever pulled to the line. He had just drifted before  hand with a broken fourth gear why wouldn't he be able again?


NoahDaniel If you watched the complete season, Forsberg beat Essa twice and it would of been a third time but the judges missed a clear call in Florida (forsberg's tire smoke blowing a cone over) Yes, Forsberg could of done more, but that one missed call really set him back because it allowed Essa to advance and podium for the first time.


Larry Chen This is what I have been curious of the whole time but there seems to be no clear answer. If Essa called 5 minutes before Luke.....that would mean his 5 minutes would run out wayyy before Luke's. Did Luke forfeit before Essa's 5 minutes ran out? 
My guess was that Essa forfeited first, then they waited for Luke's answer (Been said a hundred times that Kevin was asking Luke over and over if he could make a pass). He forfeited. So they based the call on the first run. But, according to that story, wouldn't Luke only have to wait til Essa's time out is over, notice he isn't on the line and then just drive up to the line broken car or not (he would still have some of his 5 minute time remaining)?


Nelson_CCM That is a good question. I am not exactly sure if Luke forfeited before or after the 5 minutes was up. I remember the exact moment that they called 5 minutes, they were pushing the car to see if they could bump start it and Kevin asked if they wanted to call five and I think it was Josh (Essa's crew chief) who yelled 'yes.' At this point Luke was already at the line as I can see in my photos.
Also another point that I forgot to bring up was that Essa's team threw in the towel before 5 min was up. They knew the motor was done.


Project 350ZTT Larry Chen Simply P Not so sure you can call Luke's follow run drifting. He tried but he was clearly having major issues, the FD announcers even picked up on that before any trouble from Essa's end was announced.


Larry Chen Project 350ZTT LouisYio Wang, Odi, Field, Denofa, things could get interesting next year and I hope we see more of these newer guys up on podium.


wait a second. IF Luke would be waiting on the grid for Essa, and he didn't show up - Luke STILL had to do the by-run. If he wasn't able to do the by-run he would've zeroed out any ways, which would give the win to Essa. or doesn the rulebook say something else?


All, our ruling


All, our ruling didn't have to do with any language in the rulebook regarding a Competition Timeout. It had to do with 6.4D, which discusses what to do when two cars are disabled due to independent incidents on track. In this case, Essa's motor and Pakula, wall hit and tranny. Let's dive in......
We have to remember that BOTH drivers called CTO's. This is key to understanding this. The fact that Pakula went to the line after the run doesn't mean anything. He was just following Start's direction as Start directed him over to the start line after Essa pulled off. And, even if Pakula went back to the line on his own recognizance, it doesn't matter. A CTO can be called at anytime by a driver. 
Next, we have testimony from Start about Pakula requesting to leave the line because he felt his car was broke. He was granted the right to test his car (while we sorted Essa), which he did. He did a few burnouts and stopped. We have testimony of Pakula telling a track official that he needs to check his car, he said it's broken, so he went to the pits and called a CTO. Now while all of this is occurring, what exactly is happening with Essa's car is being determined. Fire/Safey was over there first because his car was smoking, etc. Essa was pretty emotional and wasn't really able to give our track staff an answer of what was going on. It actually took a while to determine that Essa needed to call a CTO after Fire/Safety showed the car to be safe and Essa's team got their hands on it and thus requiring a CTO. Now both Pakula AND Essa are in CTO's.
After a few moments, you have both drivers bowing out of competition. Point of fact, we don't even really know who actually bowed out first. Because of how and when the radio transmissions came in, it's quite possible Luke bowed first. But either way, it doesn't matter because NO ONE  ACTUALLY TIMED OUT and thus giving the win to the other driver. And timing out is what you need for CTO forfeit language to be valid. Both drivers called it before either of their CTO's expired. So this is where 6.4D comes in. You have two broken cars, independently damaged of each other. What do you do? Well, 6.4D says that if occurrence happens on the first run, then the highest qualified driver of the two gets the win. That was Essa. Easy decision.
Hope that helps to clarify our position and the events that transpired. 
Now the question of whether or not Pakula "threw it" for Essa is really a question for all of you to debate. However, from Formula DRIFT's stand point, there was absolutely no way to know if that was true, so therefore no petition in favor of him gaming the CTO could be validated. And being "clear" as to what transpired is what requires a protest to work in the first place. My personal opinion is also "no" as well. Based on what we experienced on the ground and in the booth, saying Pakula "threw it" presupposes Luke would have known how we would rule using 6.4D. Seems to me a very big logical stretch to think that he could do all this gaming in real time, with no radio communication and then know how we would rule in this case. I take it as Luke being a new driver, he's in a very crazy, heated moment and he doesn't know what to do. 
I also have no major qualms with Forsberg's protests either. It's his right. Though I do think that protests were being used too flippantly in the past two events. Either way, with respect to Forsberg's protest, we spent a lot of time researching the facts, gathering testimony and examining what could be known post T32 and prior to T16. We actually did not make the final call on Chris' second protest until just moment before T16, so we did not take it lightly one bit. 
Hope that helps


Ryan Sage Thank you for the clarification on this. It really did help a lot so that all of us spectators and media could see how it all went down.


The fact that Larry is answering all the questions is awesome.


Ryan Sage You sir, get a high five for posting this. Pretty much clears the air about this situation.


Where is a full feature on Essas car?!?!? That thing is bad ass!


bmw ofc