Vaughn Gittin Takes the Victory at Round 4: The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway

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Vaughn Gittin Takes the Victory at Round 4: The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway;
Yoshihara and Forsberg Round out the Podium

Long Beach, Calif. – June 23, 2012 – Formula DRIFT returned to Wall Speedway for Round 4: The Gauntlet. Vaughn Gittin, Jr. in the Monster Energy / Falken Tire Ford Mustang takes the victory.

Round 4: The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway saw a sold out crowd continuing the successful season. The Driftstream saw over 200,000 total views in a 24-hour period.

“The drift fans from all over the North East are die hard and came to watch the action until the very end,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “With many of the top drivers hailing from the area, the North East fans saw two local drivers with Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and Chris Forsberg on the podium.

The competition was fierce at the half-way point of the season. Finding the podium was the past three season champions. Top 4 competition saw a repeat of the final round from Round 3, with the 2009 champion, Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy / Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z battling against Formula DRIFT rookie Daigo Saito, in the Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430, who currently sits in second place in the overall standings. Forsberg got his revenge and was able to defeat the rookie ending up in third place and moving him up to fifth place overall. The final battle pitted the current 2011 Formula DRIFT champion, Daijiro Yoshihara in the Discount Tire / Falken Tire Nissan 240SX against the 2010 Formula DRIFT champion, Vaughn Gittin, Jr. Yoshihara had a major correction on his chase run which gave the win to Gittin, for his first podium of the season and improving to fourth place overall. Yoshihara found the podium for his second consecutive event and remains in third place in the standings.

“It took me a little longer than expected to harness this brand new 2013 Monster Energy / Falken Ford Mustang,” said Vaughn Gittin, Jr., winner of Round 4: The Gauntlet. “My team and I worked extremely hard and overcame the challenges and got back on the podium and it feels amazing!”

The competition increases with only a few points separating the competition on their way to becoming the next champion. The Formula DRIFT Pro Championship continues with Round 5: Throwdown on July 20-21, 2012 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA.

Daigo Saito is Victorious at Round 3: Invasion at Palm Beach International Raceway

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Daigo Saito is Victorious at Round 3: Invasion at Palm Beach International Raceway;
Pawlak Remains in the Pro Championship Points Lead

Long Beach, Calif. – June 2, 2012 – Formula DRIFT returned to Round 3: Invasion at Palm Beach International Raceway for the second consecutive year. Rookie Daigo Saito in the Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 takes the victory and closes in on the points leader Justin Pawlak in the Falken Tire Ford Mustang.

Round 3: Invasion saw an increase in attendance in the second year of competition at Palm Beach International Raceway. The Driftstream saw over 200,000 viewers in a 24 hour period.

“We’re happy to be able to run the original track configuration due to the improvements by Palm Beach International Raceway which made for an improved event for the fans,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “Additional grandstands were brought in to accommodate for the increase in fan attendance. The dedication and investment by the venue shows their support for our Series and look forward to returning next season.”

Points leader and winner of last year’s Palm Beach event, Justin Pawlak and the 2011 Formula DRIFT Champion, Daijiro Yoshihara in the Discount Tire / Falken Tire Nissan 240SX faced off in a battle for third place. Yoshihara took the win after Pawlak spun out on his chase run and moves into third place overall. The final match of evening pitted Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy / Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z against Formula DRIFT rookie Daigo Saito. After a close battle Saito was crowned the winner and has now found the podium for the third consecutive event and increases his chances to win the coveted rookie of the year honors.

“This is the first time being in Formula DRIFT and I was able to take the victory and am extremely happy about that,” said Daigo Saito, winner of Round 3: Invasion. “I want to thank everyone and my sponsor Achilles Tire. All my runs weren’t perfect, but I am happy with the final outcome.”

The Formula DRIFT Pro Championship continues with Round 4: The Gauntlet on June 22-23, 2012 at Wall Speedway.

Formula DRIFT Announces New International Licensed Series, Drift Challenge

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Formula DRIFT Announces New International Licensed Series, Drift Challenge;
French 2012 Championship Series to Award Top 3 Drivers with Formula DRIFT Pro License

Long Beach, Calif. – May 29, 2012 – Formula DRIFT has announced a new Official International Licensing Series, Drift Challenge, of Sain Maur des fosses, France. The top three drivers from the 2012 Championship Series to receive 2012 Formula DRIFT pro license.

“I am very happy, excited and especially proud to say that Drift Challenge is officially a Formula DRIFT licensing series,” said Tony Jouin, president of Drift Challenge. “Formula DRIFT has done so much Internationally for the sport and it is truly an honor to be a part of the family. Often times, France is behind the curve when it comes to motorsports, but we can finally say that the French drifting community is working hand in hand with the best drifting series in the world. We realize we have a lot of catching up to do, but we believe that we have many talented drivers that are waiting for the right opportunity to prove themselves, and they now have the chance of a lifetime thanks to Jim Liaw & Ryan Sage of Formula DRIFT.”

The 2012 Drift Challenge season will begin on June 2 at Salbris. The six round Pro Championship will then travel to Pouilly en Auxiois, Muret and Albi. Rounds 5 and 6 will take place in the same weekend on November 3 & 4 with the top three overall drivers from the season to receive a Formula DRIFT Pro Championship license.

“Formula DRIFT’s international profile has grown tremendously in the last few years and as a result of that more and more international drivers are flocking to the US to compete in our premier championship,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “Because of the increase in international drivers, we are working to expand our Licensing Series program beyond US borders. We are excited to be adding Drift Challenge to our line-up of affiliate licensing series and hope to see a French driver in a Formula DRIFT competition very soon.”

For more information visit: www.formulad.com and www.driftchallenge.fr.

Guest Blog: Shift to Top 32 by Jacob Leveton

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Shift to Top 32
by Jacob Leveton

One of the greatest competition changes made by Formula D over the years was the shift from top 16 to top 32 tandem back in 2009. This shift has doubled the opportunities for up-and-coming drivers to compete in tandem competition side-by-side against the biggest names in the sport, as well as shaken up points structure. Qualifying for the tandem battles used to be reserved for the experienced and elite, with the occasional rookie making the field. Now, the majority of the drivers at any given event will be proving themselves in a judged tandem battle on Saturday, not packing it up early Friday evening. Because of that additional experience, names like Odi Bakchis, Ryan Kado, Matt Field, and Walker Wilkerson are quickly rising up the points standings.

As part of earning Rookie-of-the-year honors, Odi was interviewed for the 2012 Fan Guide. One of the questions we asked him who he gets excited to tandem against. Odi mentioned that he would prefer to get paired up against a top-10 driver because he knows he will learn something new in those tandems. Last year, Odi faced Dai Yoshihara (Long Beach), Vaughn Gittin Jr (Atlanta), Rhys Millen (West Palm Beach), and Joon Maeng (New Jersey) in his first four top-32 tandem battles, all of them ended in a losing effort. After Bakchis finally won his first tandem battle in a tight matchup with Robbie Nishida in Seattle, he was rewarded with a rematch against Gittin Jr. The experience of the first 5 rounds would finally pay off in Vegas where Bakchis was able to defeat Otto Graven, Justin Pawlak, and Toshiki Yoshioka before falling to Rhys Millen in the Final 4 and losing to Matt Powers in the consolation matchup. Odi’s run of success in Vegas almost single-handedly earned him the Rookie-of-the-year honors.

This year’s rookie class is looking to be the biggest one to date. As a result, you may see some unexpected names winning a few tandem rounds. Two rounds into this season, eight different rookies have made top 32 and fifteen more have made a qualifying pass. Daigo Saito is undeniably the most well-known rookie this season, but don’t sleep on the rest of the rookie class. Back in 2008, Michihiro Takatori used a 2nd place finish in Atlanta and a pair of 4th place finishes in Vegas and Irwindale to earn the Rookie of the Year honors. Also in that rookie class, a pair of drivers by the name of Justin Pawlak and Pat Mordaunt ran as privateers, trying to prove their abilities. Fast forward a few years and both Pawlak and Mordaunt are driving with some of the best teams in the series.

In 2009, the first year in which Formula D expanded to top-32 tandem format, we caught an early glimpse of how awesome the tandem battles can be in the round of 32. Mike Essa had a great battle with Tyler McQuarrie, unfortunately not having enough to move past the Falken Tire 350Z. But the most exciting tandem battle came between 2nd qualifier Dai Yoshihara and 31st qualifier Pat Mordaunt. Pat put on four stellar runs, two in the original battle and two more in the one-more-time battle, to knock out Yoshihara’s Discount Tire IS350. Entering this year’s event, it seemed that it wasn’t a matter of if there would be first round upsets but who they would be.

If the names Dai Yoshihara, Chris Forsberg, Tyler McQuarrie, Ken Gushi, Darren McNamara, Robbie Nishida, and Conrad Grunewald ring a bell, they should. Between them, they have 10 event wins, 16 other podium finishes, and 2 championships over the last 3 seasons alone. In any given event, any of these drivers could be in the top 8 or beyond. However in Atlanta, this was the list of drivers who were watching Top 16 opening ceremonies from the stands, eliminated in the round of 32. Just a few short years ago, today’s FD freshmen and sophomores were looking up to these drivers. Now, they’re ranked higher than them in the points standings. All thanks to top 32 tandems.

Formula DRIFT Spring/Summer 2012 Lookbook

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The All-New Formula DRIFT Online Store is now up and running through ShopFD.com and features the Spring / Summer 2012 collection of merchandise and apparel. To celebrate the online store opening Formula D is offering a 20% discount to all purchases made up to Sunday, May 20*.

*Sale starts 5/15 at 12 midnight & ends 5/20 at 12 midnight. Customers are responsible for shipping & sales tax fees.