In the aftermath of James Deane’s improbable victory at Round 1 of the 2017 Formula DRIFT Championship in Long Beach, Calif., this past April, a lot of drifting fan boiz got all excited because it looked like new blood in a JDM rocket was coming to America to shake things up (a la Daigo Saito in 2012). We got the impression e-thugging contrarians were dancing in the streets over the season opening shocker. But then Round 2 in the oval at Orlando Speed World happened in early May and, on the surface anyway, Deane looked fallible, even human, as the podium was nothing but past FD champions. Fast forward another couple weeks, though, to Round 3 at Road Atlanta and the Irish wheelman changes the story again.
In Long Beach, Deane had to take out a couple of past champions and a couple of could-be champions in his first Formula D action in seven years. In Braselton, Ga., he had to contend again with thrice series champ Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy Drink 370Z — the second time in three events — while also dispatching heavyweights Ken Gushi in the Greddy Performance 86, Matt Field in the Falken Tire S14, Alec Hohnadell in the Urban Air Initiative S14, and finally fellow Irishman and pal Dean Kearney in the Oracle Lighting Viper. Trust us when we say this has been no cakewalk for the Worthouse pilot.
When it comes to tracks on the Formula Drift schedule, there are none better than Road Atlanta. Automotive action happens the entire time youÆre there from nearly sun up to sun down, and well into the night. ItÆs why fans always look forward to it and it makes for an amazing, party-like atmosphere. It also helps that, despite not being an oval track, fans can see nearly everything thanks to the bowl structure of the turn 10/keyhole complex. This is Road Atlanta and here is what you missed by not being there.
Drifting is a sport of the senses û the sight of cars getting sideways, the smell of burnt rubber, the sound of cars pushing maximum horsepower, and sometimes even the taste of spent race gas. ItÆs quick, itÆs dirty, and it just pulls you in even if you try to resist. ItÆs why it works so well in a confined environment like most of the oval tracks Formula Drift visits. ItÆs the same reasons people love monster trucks and thatÆs not a knock on the series. The fans are there for the entertainment of automotive action.
Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge Saturday Results;
Forrest Wang Takes the Victory
Long Beach, Calif. – April 8, 2017 – Formula DRIFT returned for night two of the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge as part of the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Forrest Wang in the Get Nuts Lab / Zestino Tires Nissan 240 is victorious.
For the second consecutive night the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge brought drifting under the lights during the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. On Saturday night of the doubleheader weekend, fans were treated to a fast paced and action packed evening.
“Drifting at night and under lights truly is a testament of the drivers skill,” said Jim Liaw, President of Formula DRIFT. “The drivers really put on a show tonight to close out our fifth consecutive year drifting at night during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.”
Night Two of the doubleheader weekend did not disappoint as the drivers put it all on the line for a chance at the prize pool. The Top 4 pitted last night’s runner-up, Alex Heilbrunn in the IMR / Nitto Tire BMW M3 against Dean Kearney, in the Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper. Heilbrunn’s consistency helped put him back into the finals for the second consecutive evening. Jhonnattan Castro in the Gerdau Metaldom / Nexen Toyota GT86 faced off against Forrest Wang in the semi-finals. Wang drove hard all weekend and the plume of smoke from his vehicle on his lead run made him a tough opponent. Castro had difficulty in the chase position, which helped give Wang the win to put him in the Finals. Wang took advantage of car issues that Heilbrunn was experiencing to beat him and take the win, while giving Heilbrunn yet another second place finish during the weekend.
“We came. We conquered!” said Forrest Wang, winner of the Motegi Super Drift Challenge. “I’m bummed that we didn’t compete last weekend, but at least I got to drive here in Long Beach this weekend to show people my style.”
The action continues to Round 2: Unchartered Territory at Orlando Speed World on April 28-29. For more information visit, www.formulad.com and find Formula DRIFT on Instagram @formulad, Facebook www.facebook.com/formuladrift, Twitter @FormulaDrift, and Snapchat – formula_drift. Tune into Formula DRIFT on CBS Sports and check your local listings for airtimes.
Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge – Saturday Night Results
1. Wang, Forrest Get Nuts Lab / Zestino Nissan 240 Winner
2. Heilbrunn, Alex IMR / Nitto Tire BMW M3 2nd Place
3. Kearney, Dean Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper 3rd Place
4. Castro, Jhonnattan Gerdau Metaldom/ Nexen / Toyota GT86 4th Place
5. Pawlak, Justin Roush Performance Ford Mustang 5th Place
6. Burkett, Dan RAD Industries, Nexen Tire, Toyota Supra 6th Place
7. Essa, Michael Achilles tire, Essa Autosport M3 7th Place
8. Jones, Jeff DOC Nissan 240 8th Place
9. Beechum, Trenton Beechum Racing Ford Mustang 9th Place
10. Mohan, Kyle Built 2 Apex / Mazdatrix / KMR 2016 MX-5 10th Place
11. Rintanen, Juha STR Racing / Nexen Tire Nissan 240 11th Place
12. Field, Matt Falken Tire / Vapetasia / ARK Performance Nissan 240 12th Place
13. Hamilton, Nate Team Enjuku, BC Racing, Hankook Tire S13.4 13th Place
14. Litteral, Ryan NRG Innovation / Federal Tire Nissan 240 14th Place