Formula Drift Round 2 – Road Atlanta
Following a rain soaked kick off to the 2016 Formula Drift season in Long Beach, the series shifted to the east coast of the United States for round 2 at Road Atlanta. Unlike round 1, competitors and fans were welcomed to the rolling hills of Georgia by clear skies and mild temperatures, setting the stage for intense action.Following a round 1 win, Chelsea Denofa entered the event 1st in championship points, with 2015 champion Fredric Aasbo and 2015 runner-up Ken Gushi in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. However with all competition series, anything can and will change in the blink of an eye.As practice kicked off Friday afternoon, it was obvious that competitors were ready to lay it all on the line. Extreme angle and 100+ mph entry speeds are standard when Formula Drift takes to the turn 10 complex of Road Atlanta.Following practice, Top 32 qualifying kicked off with Tanner Foust setting the bar with a run score of 80 in his Rockstar Energy Volkswagen Passat.Foust did not stay at the top long as Vaughn Gittin Jr. took over the top spot with a near-perfect run, which included an entry speed of over 107mph.Fredric Aasbo powered his SR by Toyota TC to a 2nd qualifying position. While Matt Field powered his safety yellow Nissan S14.5 to 3rd place in qualifying. Chris Forsberg in his Nissan 370z, laid down a solid run to secure a 4th place qualifying position.Rounding out the Top5 qualifiers was Aurimas “Odie” Bakchis.
Saturday – Competition Day:
As fans invaded Road Atlanta on Saturday and setup their viewing spot, mechanics made last minute adjustments with hopes of providing their driver with the best possible machine for battle.After catching up with Nameless Performance owner John Hoyenga, it was time for final practice and the Top32 competition to begin. Ryan Tuerk kicked things off in his Nameless Performance | Gumout | SR by Toyota FRS.Final practice allowed competitors a chance to get final adjustments made to their car, in addition it provided an opportunity to practice tandem runs with their fellow competitors.
Top 32Top 32 bracketNumber 1 qualifier Vaughn Gittin Jr. kicked off the Top32 competition with a bye-run. With just a few runs in the books, suddenly a number of highly popular names in the sport were knocked out of competition. This included the top 3 competitors from Rd 1 in Long Beach; Chelsea Denofa was sent home by Kenny Moen, Fredrick Aasbo lost to Jeff Jones and Ken Gushi fell to Michael Essa. Other drivers knocked out in the Top32 included; Ryan Tuerck, Matt Field, Justin Pawlak and Matt Coffman.
Top 16 bracketTop 16 action began with Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Monster Energy | Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR taking the round win over Geoff Stoneback in his CFR | Hankook Nissan 370Z. As expected, the Team Rowdy crew did not feel as though the correct decision had been made. Aurimas “Odie” Bakchis and Forest Wang battled with Bacchus in his Ark Performance | Feal Suspension | Falken Hyundai Genesis taking the win over Wang in his Get Nuts Lab | Hankook S15.Chris Forsberg’s NOS Energy Drink | Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z over powered Pat Mordaunt’s Drift Paddock Nissan 350Z. In a controversial battle, Dai Yoshihara in his Falken Tire | Turn 14 Subaru BRZ took the win over Mike Widget’s Red Bull | Nitto Tire Mazda MX5. Michael Essa in the Loudmouth Exhaust | Achilles Tire BMW left Farouk Kugay’s Raze’til! MFR Nissan S14 in a cloud of smoke. Alec Honadell in the Hohnadell | Enjuku | Get Nuts Lab Nissan S14 continued to blow away competitors as he beat Jeff Jones in his DOC Racing Nissan S14.
Top 8 bracketVaughn Gittin Jr. and Tyler McQuarrie took to the track to kick off the Top 8 with an intense battle between Chevrolet and Ford. In the end it was Vaughn Gitten Jr. taking home the win to secure him a spot on the podium. Chris Forsberg took down Aurimas “Odie” Bakchis to secure a place in the final. Alec Hohnadell continued his path of destruction beating Tanner Foust. Dai Yoshihara secured a Top 4 position with a round win over Michael Essa.
Top 4 bracketVaughn Gittin Jr. blasted his way into the finals, beating out his good friend and former champion Chris Forsberg. Dai Yoshihara gave it his all as he upset the crowd by beating Alec Hohnadell to advance to the final. As the air cleared, it was down to two drivers. Vaughn Gittin Jr. had come out swinging, from his dominate qualifying runs to his precise control of every round, this was his event to win or lose. After qualifying 6th Dai Yoshihara battled through each round, obtaining round win after round win by the slimmest of margins. After two incredible runs that filled the Georgia air surrounding the turn 10 complex of Road Atlanta, Vaughn Gittin Jr. secured his place in history, taking home the round 2 victory and securing the 2016 Formula Drift Championship points lead.