Round 4 of the 2015 Formula Drift Championship, appropriately dubbed “The Gauntlet”, rolled into Wall Stadium Speedway located in Wall Township, New Jersey on June 26-27, marking the halfway point of the season. With unpredictable weather in the forecast and wet conditions promised sometime in the weekend, the chase for the championship would certainly see some mixing up at Wall.
Wall Stadium Speedway; a high-banked, short oval tucked in the quiet Wall Township in New Jersey. Most of it’s time is spent as a track for weekly racing on the big oval for Late Models, Hobby Stocks, and many other staples in the grassroots American paved oval racing that many small towns have.
After qualifying in a close second spot behind Ken Gushi at New Jersey’s Wall Speedway yesterday, Speedhunters driver Fredric Aasbø battled through the ranks and the rain today to take his second top podium spot for the 2015 Formula Drift season.
The win came after an epic battle on the bank with Dean Kearney at the round dubbed ‘The Gauntlet’. And we suspect Kearney, who hails from Ireland, was at a distinct advantage in the wet conditions thanks to his home country’s lovely climate. The Irishman started his climb to the final behind the wheel of his Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper by beating Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Air Force Top 32 – and things only got better from there. But in the end, Kearney couldn’t quite match the precise, consistent Aasbø and his Rockstar Energy Drink/Hankook Tires Scion tC in the GoPro Final Battle.
The struggle for third and fourth positions was fought out between Japan’s Masashi Yokoi in his D-Max Nissan Silvia S15…
And Ryan Tuerck in his Retaks Scion FR-S, seen here battling Scandinavia’s Kenny Moen. Tuerck would take the win for third after some tense moments.
Aasbø’s win at the same place he took his very first Formula Drift round victory last year, and another solid performance from Tuerck has really tightened up the 2015 FD Pro Championship. In fact, right now just 8 points separate the top three drivers! Ryan Tuerck leads on 275.00, closely followed by Odi Bakchis in second with 274.00, and Fredric Aasbø sits in third on 268.00. The pressure will definitely be on for this trio at the fifth round ‘Throwdown’ at Evergreen Speedway in Seattle, Washington, next month.
We’ll be back soon for a closer look at how the New Jersey event played out, so keep an eye on Speedhunters.com for the full story in the coming days. In the meantime you can check out all the battles from ‘The Gauntlet’ via Formula Drift’s On Demand video service.
Wall Speedway in New Jersey has become a staple on the Formula Drift schedule, and the 33-degree banking is the most dramatic on the circuit. The uneven guard railing that lines the top of the bank can rip apart a car in a second, but drivers love to test the limits. New Jersey marks the middle point of the seven round Formula Drift USA schedule, and many championship chases have been curbed via carnage at the track in years past.
The course is a play on a figure eight, and somewhat similar to the Orlando layout just in smaller scale. Drivers take off from the start line and enter the first turn clockwise around the banked track, asked to push their bumpers as close to the guard rail as possible. Before they cross the traditional start finish line, drivers transition off the bank and onto the flat bottom with a switchback before entering the second turn also in clockwise orientation. After pushing their car as far outside on the flat apron without putting a tire onto the bank, drivers switchback once again on the backside of the track before rounding out the track on the apron of the first turn. With three outside clipping zones and a pair of switchbacks, the small track is easily viewed from anywhere in the stands and tends to provide close tandem.
In qualifying, Ken Gushi topped the qualifying charts for the second consecutive event with a score of 93, while his Scion Racing teammate Fredric Aasbo earned the same qualifying score but lost the tiebreaker due to a lower style score. Justin Pawlak pushed his Ford Mustang into the third place qualifying position, with Pat Goodin and Kenny Moen rounding out the top 5.
In case you missed the event or the live Formula Drift Driftstream, here’s a play-by-play of how the top 32 tandem battles shook out.
Gushi Lead: Gushi initiating as the number one qualifier for the second straight event, Hamilton isn’t giving him any room! Gushi is high on the bank, just like in his qualifying run, but Hamilton keeps it close through the entire course. A small steering bobble from Gushi, exiting the second outer zone, but otherwise a smooth run for both drivers.