Formula Drift slid into Texas Motor Speedway for the sixth stop of the Formula Drift USA championship, the seventh of the Formula Drift World championship and the third on the Pro 2 championship schedule. Making its third visit to the track (which sits just a few miles outside of Dallas, Texas), the layout from previous years was flipped into a reverse configuration, leveling the playing field for all drivers. With the new layout, drivers enter the track after a short 300-foot run-up, initiating sideways around 60 to 65mph into a long, right-hand sweeper. Judges will be looking for the drivers to hit an outside zone early in the turn, with a single inside clipping point near the exit of the turn. Accelerating in front of both the judges and the main grandstands through a ‘power alley’, drivers will transition to an inside clipping point before transitioning again to rub the rear bumper on a k-rail wall, finishing the course in another right-hand sweeper with an inside clip at the apex of the turn. Unlike many of the courses on the Formula Drift circuit, drivers see faster speeds in the latter half of the course than the first turn.
In qualifying, Justin Pawlak’s first run score of 89 held the top qualifying spot for most of the qualifying session before Chris Forsberg one-upped him with a score of 90 on his second qualifying pass. In the final run of qualifying, Fredric Aasbo would claim the top spot with a score of 94, snatching up all seven championship points and increasing his lead. Entering tandem competition, Aasbo carries an 80 point lead over Ryan Tuerck and 84 point lead over Odi Bakchis. Unlike the previous four rounds-which all saw periods of rain-the weather in Texas was sunny and clear with temperatures in the mid 90’s.
Here’s a look at how the tandem action shook out in Texas.
Fast forward to the Ford Top 16 or Nitto Final 4.
Air Force TOP 32
Fredric Aasbo vs. Kyle Mohan
Aasbo Lead: Aasbo initiates early and rides an outside line in the first sweeper. Mohan isn’t far behind through the sweeper, but definitely taking a shallower line. As the drivers transition in front of the judges, Aasbo pulls a large six-seven car gap from Mohan and finishes the course strong. Advantage likely goes to Aasbo due to the large gap he was able to open up.
Mohan Lead: Mohan hits a cone in the start chicane, which requires a restart. Due to the open layout at Texas Motor Speedway, there’s no safe location to place a flagger until around halfway through the course, so both drivers navigate nearly the entire course before noticing the flagger. We pause so both drivers can replace tires.
Both drivers change tires and line back up on the start line. As both drivers near the initiation point, Mohan doesn’t initiate and appears to have mechanical issues. Aasbo slows behind Mohan, and both drivers take a parade lap. Aasbo earns the win due to mechanical issues from Mohan.
Odi Bakchis vs. Dean Kerney
Bakchis Lead: Bakchis initiates into the first turn with Kearney close behind. Bakchis doesn’t have as much smoke as we’ve seen from other drivers, but has the right line. Around halfway through the first turn, Bakchis’ rear driver-side wheel folds under the car, dropping the car onto the pavement. Kearney does a great job shutting it down and avoiding Bakchis. The car looks ok, just sans a wheel. The car gets towed off course, and Bakchis will definitely need a Competition Timeout (CT) to repair the car.
Kearney Lead: Bakchis is unable to fix his vehicle during the CT, Kearney will move on to the top 16.
Daigo Saito vs. Marc Landreville
Saito Lead: Saito initiates with big angle, Landreville isn’t far behind. As Saito rounds the first inside clipping point, his Nissan GT-R starts dumping huge plumes of smoke and pulls six or seven car lengths of gap on Landreville. Landreville is seen cruising the final turn of the course sans-drift, which will be a zero for his chase run. Landreville calls his CT.
Landreville Lead: Landreville is unable to make repairs to his vehicle in time, Saito moves on to the Top 16.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. James Evans
Gittin Jr. Lead: Gittin Jr. had a major crash in practice that may have totaled his Ford Mustang RTR. Evans gets a bye run into the top 16. Thankfully, Gittin Jr. walked away from the crash injury-free.
Ken Gushi vs. Jeff Jones
Gushi Lead: Shortly after initiation, Jones has very shallow angle, but is close on Gushi’s tail. As Jones adds angle to the car, he loses ground on Gushi. Gushi is off the preferred line as he rounds inside clip 1, but opens up a huge gap on Jones entering the second half of the course. Jones takes the shallow line through Outside Zone 2, but can’t make up much ground. Advantage likely to Gushi.
Jones Lead: Jones has a good run, a little shallow on the clipping zones but clean overall. Gushi doesn’t allow Jones to open up much of a gap through the power alley, and stays tight on Jones around the final sweeper. Gushi’s runs were much cleaner, with better proximity than Jones. Gushi earns all three votes from the judges and moves on to the top 16.
Ryan Tuerck vs. Nate Hamilton
Tuerck Lead: Tuerck has a good lead, not exceptionally close to any clipping points or zones but not overly far from them either. Tuerck opens up a three to four car gap through the power alley, but Hamilton uses a slightly shallower line to close the gap down to around two car lengths rounding the final corner. This is one of the better chase runs we’ve seen so far.
Hamilton Lead: Hamilton initiates fairly similarly to Tuerck. Tuerck has shallow angle through the first sweeper and closes the gap. Hamilton briefly opens up a small two-car gap exiting the first sweeper, but Tuerck anticipates the transition and closes the gap quickly entering the second half of the course. Hamilton doesn’t get his car out to the second outside zone, but neither does Tuerck. Hamilton opens a small two-car gap again in the second sweeper, but the proximity of Tuerck, especially near the judges stand, is likely enough to earn the win. Judges unanimously vote for Tuerck.
Kenny Moen vs. Michael Essa
Moen Lead: Moen has a clean run with good tire smoke and angle. Essa drops about three car lengths back behind Moen through the power alley, but hits the clipping points almost dead on. Moen has better angle and line, but is unable to open up a huge gap on Essa.
Essa Lead: Moen is hot on Essa’s door after initiation, it looks like Moen expected Essa to be faster on initiation. Moen handles it well and stays close on Essa through the sweeper, and Essa isn’t able to open up much of a gap through the power alley. Essa shows off big angle around inner clip two at the end of the power alley, and finishes the course strong; but with Moen just a car length or so behind Essa, he will likely earn the win due to better proximity in chase. All three judges vote for Moen to earn the tandem win.
Tyler McQuarrie vs. Kristaps Bluss
McQuarrie Lead: McQuarrie initiates with Bluss hot on his door, Bluss continues to close the gap through the big sweeper. Bluss anticipates the transition well and surges through the tire smoke to stay hot on McQuarrie through the power alley. McQuarrie has a good line and good angle exiting the power alley, Bluss stays hot on McQuarrie through most of the final sweeper. McQuarrie opens up a slight gap around the final clipping point.
McQuarrie Lead: McQuarrie takes a shallower line through the sweeper and closes the gap briefly, but Bluss increases the gap exiting the sweeper and through the power alley. McQuarrie makes a strategic decision to run shallower angle and line through the second sweeper to try and close the gap, but doesn’t make up much on the four-car gap. Bluss’s car clearly has better acceleration and forward grip, this track may be catered well to his car and driving style. Two judges vote for Bluss, one judge votes for McQuarrie; Bluss wins by split decision.
Chris Forsberg vs. Robbie Nishida
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg has a strong lead run and is definitely one of the faster cars we have seen so far on the course, but Nishida is able to keep up well. Nishida takes out both Inner Clip one and Inner Clip two from the chase position, but is able to maintain good proximity through most of the course. Replays show Nishida hit the second clipping point dead center on his bumper, that will likely be a deduction.
Nishida Lead: Nishida has a good run, starting the sweeper with around a three car gap, but Forsberg slowly closes the gap through the power alley and especially towards the exit of the power alley. Nishida appears to have to extend the drift using the e-brake at the end of the power alley and gently nudges the second inside clipping point; Forsberg closes the gap from three cars down to around one car as they exit the second outside zone and finish the course in the final sweeper. Two judges vote for Chris Forsberg, one judge requests a One More Time. Majority rules, Forsberg moves on.
Forrest Wang vs. Chelsea Denofa
Before the run, we find out that Wang’s team found a crack in a cylinder of his motor the night before and was forced to pull an all-nighter to swap the motor in time for today’s tandem battles.
Wang Lead: Wang has huge angle through the first sweeper, with tons of tire smoke. Denofa isn’t far behind him, but it is difficult to see how far behind he is due to all the power smoke. Denofa dives in exiting the power alley and closes the gap towards outside zone two, and may have made contact with Wang as they enter the final sweeper. Wang opens up another car length in gap before the end of the sweeper. Denofa will likely be at a disadvantage due to the contact.
Denofa Lead: Denofa’s run is very similar to Wang’s lead run with big angle and plenty of smoke. Wang is about one car length closer to Denofa through the first sweeper, but Denofa opens up the gap to around four car lengths through the power alley. Wang isn’t able to close the gap much through outside zone two or the final sweeper, both drivers are a bit off the ideal line near the final inside clip. One judge votes for a One More Time (OMT) rematch, the other two judges vote for Wang.
Matt Coffman vs. Charles Ng
Coffman Lead: Coffman has a good initiation and good angle through the first sweeper. Ng is a bit shallower on angle through the sweeper, but keeps almost an exact two car gap through most of the run. Coffman hits the clipping zones smoothly, Ng’s proximity is the most consistent we’ve seen through the entire course.
Ng Lead: Ng runs the outside line as prescribed by the judges, Coffman closes the gap quickly after initiation, loses ground midway through the sweeper, then closes it again after the transition and through the power alley. Coffman takes a shallower line to Ng exiting the power alley and punts the inner clipping point similarly to how Nishida hit the clipping point. This is likely a deduction for Coffman, although his proximity was strong. Two judges vote for Ng, one judge votes for a OMT.
Alec Hohnadell vs. Conrad Grunewald
Hohnadell Lead: Hohnadell’s run mirrors his Get Nuts Labs teammate Forrest Wang’s lead run with big angle and plenty of smoke. Grunewald loses ground, especially exiting the first sweeping turn, and may have even lost drift entering the power alley. Hohnadell doesn’t wait around for Grunewald and keeps most of the five-car gap through the second half of the course. Grunewald tries to take a shallow line to close up ground, but it shoots him away from the inner clip at the end of the power alley. Overall, a strong run for Hohnadell and a shaky run from Grunewald.
Grunewald Lead: Hohnadell has a great chase run, keeping around one to two car length gap through the entire course. Hohnadell hits Inside Clip Two at the exit of the power alley, but isn’t as far off the line as Nishida or Coffman were when they hit the same clip. Hohnadell’s proximity is much better than Grunewald’s chase. Judges vote unanimously for Hohnadell.
Justin Pawlak vs. Jhonnattan Castro
Pawlak Lead: Pawlak has a clean run, showing why he qualified third with big angle and plenty of speed. Castro was consistently around three to four car lengths behind Pawlak, and off line exiting the power alley and around the final sweeper.
Castro Lead: Pawlak reduces the gap from around four car lengths down to just a single car length through the first sweeper. Exiting the sweeper and into the power alley, Castro transitions cleanly while Pawlak has a bobble, loses drift and cruises the second half of the course. It’s unclear if this was a mechanical issue or Pawlak feeling that he made a big enough mistake to warrant a loss. Castro earns all three judges votes and will make his third top 16 appearance of the season.
Dai Yoshihara vs. Dan Savage
Yoshihara Lead: Yoshihara has struggled this season, but the BR-Z finally appears to be making headway in the development and engineering. Yoshihara has a clean lead run, Savage keeps around a two-car gap through the first sweeper and through most of the power alley. Savage hits inner clip two at the exit of the power alley, but closes the proximity down to around one-car length around the final sweeper.
Savage Lead: Savage has a clean lead run with good angle and consistent line through the course. Yoshihara is one to two car lengths back of Savage, and anticipates the transitions both entering and exiting the power alley nearly perfectly. Yoshihara finishes the course around one-car length back of Savage; this is the most consistent Yoshihara has looked all season. Judges vote unanimously for Yoshihara, taking him to his first top 16 appearance since Long Beach.
Masashi Yokoi vs. Pat Goodin
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi has big angle through the course, Goodin keeps the proximity close although with slightly less angle. Goodin may have made slight contact with Yokoi midway through the first sweeper, and took out the inner clip at the end of the power alley similarly to both Coffman and Nishida. Goodin’s proximity is impressive, but the lack of angle may work against him.
Goodin Lead: Goodin has a good lead run with tons of smoke, Yokoi shows similar proximity to Goodin in his chase but with substantially more angle. Goodin had good speed and opened up a gap through the power alley, but Yokoi closed the gap again around the final sweeper. Yokoi earns all three judges votes, thanks in large part to his superior car control and consistency.
”Mad” Mike Whiddett vs. Mats Baribeau
This battle features the largest wheelbase car on the circuit against the shortest wheelbase car.
Whiddett Lead: Whiddett initiates into the first turn, settling the car with big angle before stomping the throttle and turning on a huge plume of tire smoke and opening up a substantial gap. Baribeau is several car lengths behind Whiddett through the power alley and is way off the clipping point exiting the power alley. Baribeau attempts to take an inside line to catch up to Whiddett, but can’t make up much ground. Likely a big advantage to Whiddett after that run.
Baribeau Lead: Whiddett leaves a big opening on initiation, but closes the gap quickly through the big sweeper. Whiddett ends up on a line almost immediately behind Baribeau at inner clip one entering the power alley. Baribeau opens a gap through the power alley, Whiddett taps the clipping point exiting the power alley, Baribeau finishes the run cleanly despite what appears to be some wheel shake from the front wheel of Baribeau. Judges decide the run is too close to call and vote for a OMT battle.
Baribeau calls his CT to identify what might have caused the issue with the front wheel, it appears to be brake related.
One More Time Run
Whiddett Lead: Baribeau’s team is unable to correct the issue with the right front brake caliper. Although he is content to run with three working brake calipers, Formula D’s tech team says the car is unsafe to run as-is and requires him to retire. Whiddett makes a solo pass and is into the top 16.
Ford TOP 16
Opening ceremonies occurred under a setting sun, and we will quickly be moving through dusk into the early evening. Drivers haven’t had any opportunity to practice in evening conditions, so it will be interesting to see how the drivers transition as the track cools off.
Fredric Aasbo vs. Dean Kearney
This is a rematch of the Wall Speedway final round, although this round will be run in the dry versus the wet that occurred in New Jersey.
Aasbo Lead: Aasbo initiates with Kearney close behind, Kearney is less than a car length behind Aasbo just after initiation! Kearney has less angle than Aasbo, but the proximity is impressive! Aasbo pulls away from Kearney through the power alley, but Kearney closes it again with a slightly shallower line through the second outside zone.
Kearney Lead: Kearney initiates quickly, but Aasbo isn’t far behind. Aasbo has around one car length of distance behind Kearney, which isn’t as close as Kearney was in his chase but is mimicking Kearney’s steering angle better. Kearney pulls a three to four car length lead through the power alley, but needs to use his e-brake to extend the drift to inside clip one which allows Aasbo to close the gap again. Both drivers maintain good steering angle and a similar line around the final turn, although that line is a bit off inside clip three. Overall, a great battle from two very skilled drivers! Two judges vote for Aasbo, one judge votes OMT.
One of the judges explains that although Kearney had better proximity at times, he had to sacrifice steering angle to gain the proximity. Kearney also had some small mistakes, including the e-brake pull at the end of the power alley on his lead and being off line at the final inside clipping point. Aasbo’s consistency and better steering angle earned him the win.
Daigo Saito vs. James Evans
Saito Lead: Saito has a good initiation, Evans isn’t far behind through the sweeper. Exiting the sweeper, Saito stomps the loud pedal and dumps a ton of horsepower, steering angle and tire smoke as he pulls away from Evans. Saito finishes the course strong with tons of angle, Evans is six or seven car lengths back. Replay shows that Evans lost drift and cut through the infield at inner clip one exiting the first sweeper, resulting in a zero due to two tires off course.
We have some downtime to sweep up the dirt that Evans dragged on track after his excursion.
Evans Lead: Saito gives Evans some room on initiation, but closes the gap midway through the sweeper. Saito keeps the pressure on Evans through the rest of the run, maintaining one to two car lengths of proximity through the rest of the run. Evans has better steering angle at times, but is unable to open up the gap between both cars. Saito earns the win from all three judges.
Ken Gushi vs. Ryan Tuerck
Gushi Lead: Gushi initiates with Tuerck hot on his tail and there’s contact shortly after initiation. Hard to determine which driver is at fault from multiple replay angles, it appears that Gushi slows down fairly dramatically but this may be similar to how Gushi has initiated all weekend. Tuerck could have left more room, but it’s undetermined if either driver is at fault.
Tuerck Lead: Tuerck has a clean lead run, opening up a big gap on Gushi especially through the power alley. Gushi shallows his angle and attempts to catch up, but hits inside clip two exiting the power alley. Tuerck finishes strong, Gushi is unable to make up much ground. One judge sides for Tuerck, two judges vote OMT. The judges explain that fault could not be determined on the contact in the first run, and with no major mistakes in the second run, they felt it was better to run the drivers One More Time than to try and determine a winner based on inconclusive replays.
One More Time
Gushi Lead: Tuerck appears to have learned his lesson and leaves more room for the initiation. Tuerck closes the gap through the sweeper, Gushi opens it up through the power alley but is wide on inner clip two. Gushi’s line sets him up perfectly for outside zone two and the finish through the sweeper, while Tuerck has a good line on inner clip two but can’t push out to outside zone two in front of the judges. Possibly a slight advantage to Gushi, but not a decisive battle for either driver.
Tuerck Lead: Both drivers initiate similarly, Tuerck has slightly better angle through the first sweeper and inner clip one. Tuerck opens up an extra car length or two of distance through the power alley and through outer zone two, but Tuerck again can’t push out to outer zone two. Gushi has a good line overall and closes the gap back down to around two car lengths by the finish. One judge voted for Gushi, another for Tuerck and one votes for a One More Time. That means they go to another OMT battle! Judges must make a decision after the next battle, as only two rounds of OMT are allowed per the rules.
One More Time x2
Gushi Lead: Gushi has a similar initiation, Tuerck keeps about one to two car lengths of space through the sweeper as Gushi seems to have better steering angle. Gushi pulls another car length or two of gap through the power alley, Tuerck takes a shallower angle and line to catch up to Gushi through the power alley. Gushi pushes out to outside zone two cleanly and finishes the course cleanly, Tuerck again is shallow near outside zone two but finishes the sweeper strong.
Tuerck Lead: Tuerck again has a small one or two car lead through the sweeper, but Gushi looks to have better angle. Tuerck extends the lead to about three or four car lengths through the power angle, but Tuerck again is wide on inside clip two after the power alley and again can’t get out to outside zone two in front of the judges. Two judges vote for Gushi, one judge votes for a OMT. Gushi moves on to the top 8!
Kenny Moen vs. Kristaps Bluss
Moen Lead: Moen has a great line through the course with tons of smoke! Bluss is only two car lengths back through the first sweeper, Moen briefly extends the gap to about three or four car lengths in the power alley but Bluss closes it again exiting the power alley. Moen rubs his rear bumper on outside zone two, his rear bumper drags through the final sweeper with Bluss close behind. The instant replay shows that Moen was a bit off line at inner clip one exiting the sweeper, but otherwise a good run all around.
Bluss Lead: Moen gives Bluss a tiny bit of space to initiate, then quickly closes the gap to Bluss through the first sweeper. Bluss opens the gap up again through the power alley, but Moen isn’t far behind. Bluss taps his rear end along the rear clipping zone similar to Moen, but hits much harder which forces the car to straighten out a bit and has to re-initiate drift before the second sweeper. Moen finishes the run cleanly, all three judges decide for Moen. Bluss likely had a zero due to re-initiating.
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg has a good initiation but Wang is right on his tail! Both drivers are only a car length away through the sweeper with very similar steering angle. Forsberg is able to pull a slight lead through the power alley, both drivers are close to inner clip two and Wang closes the gap down as they near outer zone two. Wang is less than a car length from Forsberg through outer zone two, and Wang may have slightly rubbed Forsberg exiting outer zone two and through the final sweeper. An excellent lead run from Forsberg but an even more impressive chase run from Wang!
Wang Lead: Wang takes a wide line around the first corner, Forsberg looks to be taking the inside line to try and keep close proximity but has to pull the e-brake to avoid hitting Wang. Wang has great angle through the first sweeper and tons of tire smoke, and pulls a slight two car gap on Forsberg. Wang puts out some amazing steering angle through the power alley, Forsberg closes the proximity but has nowhere near the same amount of angle. Wang nearly rubs his rear bumper on the outside zone and continues the outside line through the second sweeper, diving in near the finish line. Forsberg pulls away from outside zone two to dive in on Wang, but comes in too hot and has to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting Wang near the finish line. It looks like Forsberg may have lost drift near the finish line, but it’s unclear if Wang’s unconventional line would be considered a deduction. Two judges vote for a OMT, one judge votes for Wang, we will have a rematch!
One More Time
Forsberg Lead: Shortly after initiation, Wang dives onto the inside line and appears to nearly pass Forsberg on the inside in an area where he’s not allowed to pass. Forsberg stays on throttle and finishes the course, Wang shuts it down and cruises the rest of the course. If Wang is considered to have passed Forsberg in a no-passing zone, this could be a zero for Wang. Forsberg finishes the course cleanly and will likely be given full credit for the run.
Wang Lead: Wang has a big initiation into the first turn, Forsberg plays a bit more conservative and leaves room for Wang to enter the corner. Forsberg stays a car length or two behind Wang through the entire first sweeper. Wang has incredible angle through the power alley, but is far off line around inner clip two exiting the power alley. Forsberg closes in on Wang to within a car length near outside zone two and stays close to Wang through the final sweeper. All three judges vote for Forsberg to move into the Great 8.
Alec Hohnadell vs. Charles Ng
Hohnadell Lead: Hohnadell initiates with a big flick entry and looks to have pushed two tires off course shortly after initiation. Hohnadell pushes big angle through the power alley and creates a big five-car gap. Ng uses a shallow angle to try and close the gap, but punts the inner clip two cone while trying to catch up. Hohnadell finishes the final sweeper cleanly, Ng is only a car or two back through the final sweeper.
Ng Lead: Ng taps the initiation cones on his entry, but doesn’t appear to drop any tires off course. Hohnadell is only a car length or so behind Ng through the first sweeper. Ng opens up the gap through the power alley, but Hohnadell closes it towards the end of the power alley while simultaneously dumping big steering angle. Ng rubs his bumper along outside zone two, Hohnadell obliges and repeats. Hohnadell may have nudged Ng, both drivers finish the final turn cleanly sans rear bumper. Two judges vote for a OMT battle, one judge votes for Hohnadell but it’s for naught.
One More Time
Hohnadell Lead: Hohnadell with a more traditional initiation this time around, both drivers are a bit off inner clip one entering the power alley. Hohnadell opens up a good three to four car gap through the power alley with impressive angle, Ng uses shallow angle and line to try and catch up but can’t get much closer than two-car lengths. Hohnadell finishes through outside zone two and the final sweeper cleanly, Ng’s car clearly has nowhere near as much angle as Hohnadell.
Ng Lead: Ng keeps his car on track for his initiation, Hohnadell is around two-car lengths back through the sweeper. As Ng enters the power alley, Hohnadell again has incredible angle and tightens the gap. Ng gets close to the outside zone, with Hohnadell close behind. Both drivers finish cleanly. All three judges vote for Hohnadell to move on. Hohnadell has really turned a corner in these last two events, and looks like an experienced veteran!
Dai Yoshihara vs. Jhonnattan Castro
Yoshihara Lead: Yoshihara seems a little slow on initiation, Castro maintains around one car length of distance in chase through the entire sweeper. Yoshihara stretches the lead out to three car lengths through the power alley, but is wide on inner clip two exiting the power alley. Yoshihara gets close to outer zone two, Castro takes the shallow line but isn’t able to close the gap at all. Likely an advantage to Yoshihara.
Castro Lead: Castro has a good initiation and runs through the first sweeper and power alley cleanly, but Yoshihara is never more than a car length or two back. Castro has better angle through the power alley, but Yoshihara’s proximity is impressive. Castro can’t push all the way out to outside zone two, Yoshihara follows his line flawlessly. Both drivers finish smoothly through the final sweeper. All three judges vote for Yoshihara.
Masashi Yokoi vs. “Mad” Mike Whiddett
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi has huge angle on initiation, Whiddett leaves some room after initiation but closes the gap through the entirety of the first sweeper. Yokoi dumps big angle transitioning through the power alley, Whiddett loses a few car length of gap through the power alley and tries to take a shallower line to catch up but loses drift. Yokoi finishes the run cleanly through the sweeper, Whiddett shuts it down and cruises the final turn.
Whiddett Lead: Whidett pitches it strong into the first turn and quickly pushes the one-car gap to four cars by midway through the first sweeper. Through the power alley, Whiddett maintains a solid five-car lead with plenty of tire smoke. Yokoi dives through the smoke exiting the power alley but has overshot the turn and drops two tires in the dirt on the inside of the turn. Whiddett finishes the run smoothly, Yokoi’s mistakes are determined to be a zero due to dropping two tires. All three judges vote for OMT.
One More Time
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi’s initiation isn’t as dramatic as his previous entries, and Whiddett is able to stay closer to him. Yokoi again has bigger angle through the sweeper, but Whiddett closes the gap quickly. Yokoi pulls a three car gap again exiting the sweeper and entering the power alley, but Whiddett again closes it down although with shallower steering angle. Entering the second outside zone, Yokoi goes deep and might have rubbed his rear bumper but Whiddett miscalculates the distance and smashes his rear bumper into the rear zone, which whips his Miata around and smashes the front as well. Whiddett gets towed back to the pits, while Yokoi finishes the run cleanly. Yokoi will have a major advantage going into the next run if Whiddett can repair the car.
Whiddett is unable to repair the car in time, Yokoi moves on to the Great 8.
NITTO Great 8
Fredric Aasbo vs. Daigo Saito
Aasbo Lead: Aasbo has a clean lead run, Saito has a very shaky chase run. On initiation, Saito appears to dive in on Aasbo similar to what Wang did earlier but again may have over-shot the entry and has to slam on the brakes to avoid passing or hitting Aasbo. Aasbo pulls away briefly, but Saito catches up by mid-sweeper. Aasbo continues the course cleanly, Saito has a small correction entering the power alley but a major correction and loses drift near inside clip two exiting the power alley and has to reinitiate. Saito rubs the wall in outside zone two, but is unable to make up much ground on Aasbo. Advantage likely to Aasbo.
Aasbo calls his competition timeout after the run to get a fresh set of tires.
Saito Lead: Saito has a shaky initiation, Aasbo has to slow dramatically to avoid hitting Saito but keeps the car sideways. Saito pulls away again exiting the sweeper and entering the power alley. Aasbo goes off course entering the power alley and has to re-initiate, this is likely a zero. Saito finishes the run cleanly. If Saito’s first run was a zero, this will likely go OMT. If Saito just had a deduction, then Saito will move on. All three judges vote for Saito, Aasbo exits in the Top 8.
Ken Gushi vs. Kenny Moen
Gushi Lead: Moen has to back off shortly after initiation due to Gushi slowing dramatically, but maintains drift. Moen closes the gap again and stays tight through the power alley with slightly less angle. Gushi extends the gap through the outside zone, Moen takes a slightly shallower line through the final sweeper but stays clean.
Moen Lead: Moen has a good initiation and run through the sweeper, Gushi has a clean follow. Moen extends the lead through the power alley and has a good line past inner clip two, but has to brake dramatically to get the car back on line for outside zone two. Gushi closes the gap, and both drivers finish smoothly. All three judges vote for a One More Time.
One More Time
Gushi Lead: Gushi is shaky on initiation, Moen has to back off but keeps drift and keeps the gap close through the sweeper. Gushi pulls around a four-car gap through the power alley, Moen has a steering correction midway through the power alley, then brushes the wall in the outside zone and has to correct again. Gushi finishes cleanly with a solid four or five car gap and likely has an advantage due to Moen’s steering corrections.
Moen calls his CT after his run.
Moen Lead: Moen starts the run with around a three-car gap, and is unable to extend the gap through the power alley. Gushi reduces the gap from three cars down to around two cars exiting the power alley. Moen has a great line, sweeping close to inside clip two and getting out to outside zone two, but Gushi’s proximity is likely to earn him the win. All three judges vote for Gushi to move on.
Chris Forsberg vs. Alec Hohnadell
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg initiates into the first corner and Hohnadell is close on him, around one car length back from Forsberg through most of the sweeper. Forsberg extends the gap another car length after the transition in the power alley. Hohnadell has a small correction as he transitions through the power alley. Forsberg maintains two to three car lengths for the rest of the run, although he’s a bit off the final clipping point at the end of the sweeper.
Hohnadell Lead: Hohnadell has a crazy initiation and again taps one of the initiation cones, but keeps the car on track. Forsberg tries to chase down Hohnadell but can’t make up much room. Hohnadell continues to throw huge angle through the power alley. Forsberg slides a bit wide on inside clip two and can’t push out to the outside zone. Hohnadell continues the course cleanly. One judge votes for a OMT, two judges vote for Forsberg.
Masashi Yokoi vs. Dai Yoshihara
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi continues to throw big angle through the course, while Yoshihara has a lot of steering corrections. Yokoi extends a two-car gap through the power alley, Yoshihara has shallower angle and line but still can’t keep up.
Yoshihara Lead: Yoshihara is much smoother on his lead run than on his chase. Yoshihara opens up the gap from around two-car lengths to four-car lengths through the power alley, but Yokoi’s angle and smoothness is tough to argue against. Yokoi looks to be running a bit conservative, but is only three or four car lengths back and likely not considered ‘inactive chase’. Yokoi gets the vote from all three judges.
NITTO Final 4
Ken Gushi vs. Daigo Saito
Gushi Lead: Gushi is slow on his initiation, Saito sucks up within inches of Gushi shortly after initiation. Saito appears to avoid contact, but Gushi opens up a small gap. Gushi is unable to pull out a gap through the power alley, but Saito has to slow substantially to get on the right line near
Saito Lead: Saito and Gushi again are only a car length or so away from each other through the sweeper, but Saito opens up the gap exiting the sweeper. Gushi seems to back off and allow the gap to grow to three cars entering the power alley to avoid being stuck in the smoke. When Saito slows down again exiting the power alley to setup for outside zone two, Gushi is able to slide within one car length of Saito but keeps sliding off the line and is on the wrong line for the final turn. Saito has around a four-car gap at the exit of the final sweeper, Gushi finishes strong and in drift, but could have been closer around the final corner. One judge votes for Gushi, two vote for One More Time. We go again!
One More Time
Gushi Lead: Saito has an amazing chase over the first half of the course, less than a car length away from Gushi through the entire sweeper, past inner clip one, and into the power alley. Saito brakes midway through the power alley to ensure his line is right for outside zone two and Gushi extends the gap to around four-car lengths. Gushi finishes strong, Saito likely had a huge advantage until he allowed the gap to open up in the final two turns of the course.
Saito Lead: Saito gets sideways early and Gushi is hot on his tail! One car length gap through the sweeper, Saito isn’t able to pull away from Gushi towards the end of the sweeper like he has against other drivers. Gushi hangs back after inside clip one to let Saito transition; Gushi transitions himself about three-car lengths behind Saito, which strategically keeps him out of the smoke. Saito is a little wide on inside clip two exiting the power alley, Gushi is right on the clip as requested by the judges. Saito can’t quite get out to the outside zone, but Gushi overshoots the final inside clip. Similar mistakes from both drivers.
One More Time x2
Gushi Lead: Gushi’s entry again is awkward, brake lights from both drivers at times to avoid contact while staying in drift, but both drivers do a fantastic job adjusting. Gushi stays around two-car lengths ahead of Saito through the first sweeper and increases the gap to around four car lengths exiting the power alley. Saito takes a shallow line through outside zone two but still can’t make up much ground. Gushi likely has an advantage from this run.
Saito Lead: Saito has a good initiation and lead run, extending the gap from two-car lengths up to around four-car lengths exiting the first sweeper. Gushi gets lost in the smoke a bit exiting the sweeper and can’t close the gap at all through the rest of the run. Saito slows again to get to outside zone two but doesn’t allow Gushi to catch up. Gushi is on the line for the entire course, but not too close on proximity. One judge votes for Saito, the other two vote for Gushi. Gushi moves on to the finals! The judges explain that Saito’s big e-brake pull exiting the power alley on his chase and not getting out to the outer zone was a major factor in the decision for Gushi.
Chris Forsberg vs. Masashi Yokoi
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg has an awkward entry, but Yokoi adjusts well and is less than a car length away. Forsberg increases the gap to around a car length through the sweeper, extending it briefly to about two-car lengths through the power alley, but Yokoi brakes late and closes the gap back down to one car length. Yokoi mirrors Forsberg’s every move with amazing precision and angle. Forsberg really didn’t have any issues or corrections other than the initiation, but the story of the run is definitely Yokoi’s chase.
Yokoi Lead: After an initial false start due to Yokoi jumping the start line, the second run starts clean. Forsberg and Yokoi are very close to each other on initiation, Yokoi initiates later and opens up a small gap on Forsberg. Forsberg gets too aggressive midway through the sweeper and has to slow down substantially but looks to have made contact with Yokoi and definitely loses drift. Yokoi keeps a big five-car gap through the rest of the run, Forsberg finishes the run with an inside line and is unable to make up any ground. All three judges vote for Yokoi. Because Forsberg is the highest qualifying driver in the Final Four, Forsberg is guaranteed Third place.
Go Pro Finals
Ken Gushi vs. Masashi Yokoi
Gushi Lead: Gushi with a more consistent initiation than he’s had in some previous runs. Gushi opens the gap up to around two car lengths entering the power alley and extends it to three car lengths by the end of the power alley. Both drivers have a good line through the final outside zone and final sweeper, likely an advantage to Gushi due to no major corrections or mistakes by either driver and an increasing gap over the entirety of the course.
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi with a strong initiation, starting the sweeper with a two car gap. Yokoi extends it to around four-car lengths as they transition into the power alley, but Gushi slowly reels in Yokoi, closing it back down to around two-car lengths by the finish line. Again, neither driver makes any major mistakes, a clean run for both drivers.
Both drivers are brought in front of the fans to announce the winner. Forsberg joins as the Third place driver. Yokoi is announced as the winner of the event, Gushi grabs Second place!