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.

 

 

Formula DRIFT Launching New Online Store – ShopFD.com

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The 2012 Formula DRIFT online merchandise store will launch 5/15 at 12 midnight. To help celebrate the launch, we’d like to offer all customers a 20% discount* on their purchases until Sunday May 20, 2012.

Be sure to visit ShopFD.com for the latest men’s and women’s drifting apparel and accessories.

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

Justin Pawlak Takes the Victory at Round 2: Road to the Championship

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Justin Pawlak Takes the Victory at Round 2: Road to the Championship;
Pawlak Remains on Top of the Standings and Becomes the Tires.com Triple Crown Leader

Long Beach, Calif. – May 12, 2012 – Formula DRIFT returned to Road Atlanta for Round 2: Road to the Championship. Justin Pawlak takes the victory in the Falken Tire Mustang increasing his point lead in the Pro Championship Points Standings.

Round 2: Road to the Championship brought the Formula DRIFT Pro Championship back to the Series birthplace nine years ago. Fans came in droves seeing an increase in attendance at Road Atlanta. This marks another consecutive season of growth.

“It’s very satisfying that Road Atlanta and Formula DRIFT have formed a partnership nine years ago to help grow drifting in this region,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “We look forward to our ten year anniversary at this venue next season.”

Justin Pawlak takes his second consecutive victory to increase his points lead. Additionally, Pawlak is now the points leader in the Tires.com Triple Crown bonus prize. Pawlak faced Fredric Aasbo in the Need for Speed / Hankook Scion TC and edged out the 2010 Rookie of the Year to take the victory. Walker Wilkerson in the Falken / Fatlace / Garage Autohero Nissan 240SX battled Formula DRIFT rookie, Daigo Saito in the Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 in the consolation round. After a one more time battle Saito beat out Wilkerson to take his second third place finish of the season.

“The boys at ASD and Falken gave me what I need to help me get to that number 1 spot,” said Justin Pawlak, winner of Round 2: Road to the Championship. “Next round is West Palm Beach and with a great car and great team we were able to take the win there last year and plan to remain focused and keep this momentum going.”

The Formula DRIFT Pro Championship continues with Round 3: Invasion at West Palm Beach International Raceway on June 1-2, 2012.

Formula DRIFT Announces Second Season of Formula DRIFT Insider

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Long Beach, Calif. – May 1, 2012 – Formula DRIFT has announced today the continuation of the popular online program, “Formula DRIFT Insider.” The first episode will premiere on Thursday, May, 3 on Formula DRIFT’s social media outlets and website.

After a successful trial during the last 10 weeks of the 2011 Formula DRIFT Championship season, Formula DRIFT will launch the second season of “Formula DRIFT Insider,” this Thursday, May 3. Subsequent episodes will air every other Thursday until the conclusion of the season in October. Formula DRIFT Insider will cover much of the behind the scenes action of the world’s premier drifting organization and go on the road with teams, drivers and staff to show exclusive access never before seen to the public. The show will continue to be hosted by Formula DRIFT co-founder, Ryan Sage.

“We are really happy that Insider was received well by fans last year,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “Now we have the chance to cover the entire season and it should make for some really exclusive and captivating content to share with our fans.”

The first episode of Formula DRIFT Insider will have an exclusive interview with 2011 Champion, Daijiro Yoshihara, an exclusive news release surrounding one of the top teams in the Series and finally a surprise surrounding the second round of competition at Road Atlanta, which takes place on May 11-12.