Last Saturday, Just Drift held its final proam competition of the 2012 season inside the paved oval at Willow Springs Raceway. At the end of round 4, season champs would be crowned, and 6 Formula Drift pro licenses would be awarded. Its been a wild experience for some of the competitors. Lots of mechanical difficulties, and frustrating driver errors would put a few talented drirvers in positions where they had to fight for a top finishing spot in Top Drift 2012. AmDrift would like to congratulate the newly licensed drivers, the winners of round 4, and the 2012 season champions.
Charlie Ongsingco meets with drivers before early evening practice starts.
Just Drift officials and judge’s intention was to mimic a mini Irwindale Speedway layout.
Alex Villabrille went out for practice, producing some nice thick smoke.
Drifter, gone time attacker, back to drifting, Adam Knapik, was looking pretty hot too.
Jesse Vargas and Jason Kim break out the tandem early in practice.
Jim Guthrie is progressively honing his skills in a drift car, constantly fighting the instinct to grip drive.
After the early evening practice, drivers and judges met to discuss what was expected, what judges would be looking for, and how they would be judged. Drivers wanted judges to be very specific on how to follow and lead, and what would happen if the lead car went off line, how they were expected to react, etc.
Hiro Sumida, Taka Aono, and Justin Pawlak go over course layout with drivers, and make sure they are clear of what’s expected of them.
Before qualifying, everybody enjoyed the usual hot dog, provided by announcer and sometimes drifter, Jack Reynolds and his girlfriend Hannah.
Chris Licup is expecting a child within the next month, so will this be the last hotdog he will consume before the sleepness nights? Good luck and congrats to the Licup family!
Eric Hill blew the judges away by sweeping the wall right in front of where they were sitting, earning him the highest qualifying score AND the Stealth Custom Fab Insane Entry Award of round 4.
The judges were perched at the beginning of the last banking, right after the straightaway transition zone where they could monitor the most important judged part of the track.
Kelvin Arreola drives all or nothing. He held the highest qualifying score before Eric Hill buzzed the judges. Kelvin was able to suck up to the wall, hit it hard with the right rear, and drive on to finish the rest of the course. Later on his last qualifying run, he locked the front brakes, and crashed into the wall on the first banking.
Our good friend, John Jimison, failed to qualify in the top 16 despite some great looking runs, earning him 17th and just missing the cut.
Charlie and Justin Pawlak announce top 16 qualifiers amongst an eager group of drivers and supporters.
Top 16: Drew Ostrowski, Adam Knapik, Eric Hill, Tyler Wolfson, Kelvin Arreola, Jim Guthrie, Alex Villabrille, Karl Osaki, Jesse Vargas, Adam Levi, Spike Chen, Luke Pakula, Jason Kim, George “Pina” Kilada, Dan Brockett, and Andy Hateley.
The first battle of Top 16, would be Jason Kim vs Eric Hill. Jason and Eric would both have great follow runs, earning them a one more time run. Eric Hill was able to take down Jason Kim on the OMT.
Drew Ostrowski would face Adam Knapik. Drew cut in too early coming off the 2nd banking, causing him to slide to a stop before the clipping point and letting Adam finish without a follower. On Drew’s lead run, he would spin out coming into the infield after the banking, and Adam came to sideways stop to avoid him. Due to these 2 incidents, Adam Knapik would move on.
Next up would be Karl Osaki vs Alex Villabrille.
Alex would be able to keep it close to Karl, and force a one more time.
The judges decided that Karl’s follow run was better than Alex’s follow run of the OMT, so Karl was allowed to advance while Alex was sent back to the pits.
Jesse Vargas was matched with very stong runner and potential FD license recipient, Dan Brockett, for a very interesting 2 runs.
Dan was to lead, but Jesse fell behind.
On Jesse’s lead run, he was able to put down a nice line, forcing Dan to overdrive his car and spin trying to keep close proximity, giving Jesse the win.
Jim Guthrie would face Tyler Wolfson. Tyler had been having technical issues all night.
Jim put down a safe line, while Tyler Wolfson’s car died on the first banking. Tyler limped to the pits and was unable to do another run, so Jim Guthrie was able to move on.
Next up would be George Kilada vs Andy Hateley. Kilada was a little shallow on the follow, and judges awarded Andy with the win.
Kelvin Arreola would drive against Adam Levi. When these 2 guys lined up, everyone knew it would be a great battle to watch because both drivers were driving great all day. You can see crash damage from Kelvin’s last qualifying run. Adam was super close on the follow during the first run.
Adam Levi would put down an outstanding run, leaving a large gap between him and Kelvin. Kelvin was unable to close the gap, failing to give the judges that “proximity” thing everyone wants to see these days, so Adam Levi was awarded the win and he moves on.
Potential season champ, Luke Pakula, would have to fend off Spike Chen in their Top 16 battle.
Pakula had a great, clean run. Spike had a hard time closing the gap until the infield clipping points.
Luke was able to stay feet away from Spike’s quarter panel, giving him a huge advantage compares to Spike’s follow, and the judges awarded Luke the win.
Adam Knapik vs Eric Hill. Adam was to follow Eric on first run (not pictured), went high and close to the wall and slowed down.
Eric Hill was able to keep it insanely close the entire run. Adam Knapik clipped a cone coming off the banking, awarding Eric Hill the win.
Next up would be Karl Osaki, and Jesse Vargas. Jesse hasn’t been this close to podium the entire season, so it was exciting to witness this matchup. Jesse was slow on the follow in the first run.
Karl was able to keep it super close on his follow, but fell behind in distance after entering the infield clipping points. The judges called for a one more time because it was such a close pair of runs.
On the OMT, Jesse was able to stick close to Karl.
Karl Osaki returns the favor, keeping it close to Jesse as if the cars were tied together. Wow! Judges call one more time again!!! Karl and Jesse both take cool down laps.
On Karls lead, he clipped a cone in the transition area between the banks. On his follow, he spun trying to keep close to jesse after the transition entering the 2nd bank.
Jesse was awarded a the win, after a long hard fought battle with karl.
Karl expressed a little frustration by burning his tires while moving off track.
Andy Hateley would run against Jim Guthrie. Andy fell behind on the follow, but had followed the good line Jim put down.
On Jim’s follow, he didnt leave the line with Andy, giving him a huge lead. Andy rubbed the wall on the 2nd banking, Jim straightened to close the gap. Judges called for one more time given the distance between Jim and Andy on the first run, and the strange start by Jim on the second run. On the OMT, Jim was really high on the banking on the lead. Before the 2nd run of the OMT, both drivers would go for tires.
While waiting for Jim Guthrie and Andy Hateley to change tires, Luke Pakula and Adam Levi would face each other. Pakula had a sweet line on his lead, but Levi was able to stay close and mimic the line.
On the second run, Luke was far behind Adam on the banking, but was able to catch up and close the distance in the infield, earning Luke the win.
Back from changing tires, Andy had a hard time following Jim, falling far behind, but still mimicking his line. Jim was unable to follow Andy’s line on the follow, so the judges awarded Andy with the win.
Jesse Vargas would continue his winning streak by facing Eric Hill.
Jesse fell far behind, while Eric had a moderate line on lead.
Jesse put down a super solid lead run, while Eric was super close, but didnt stay in Jesse’s line. Jesse Vargas defeated the mighty Eric Hill and moved on to the podium battles.
Going into the podium battles, Luke Pakula would face Andy Hateley.
Andy was close while following Luke, but Luke impressed the judges more with his follow, and was awarded the win. Andy was to move on to face Eric Hill for 3rd place podium.
The battle for 3rd would be Eric Hill against Andy Hateley.
Andy was a little straight and shallow on his follow, compared to Eric.
Eric Hill was able to stick it insanely close to Andy on his follow.
Unfortunately for Eric, he plowed over a cone and hay bail just before the last turn on his follow. Hitting objects on track is an immediate loss, so Andy Hateley was awarded the win for 3rd!
The last battle of 2012, would be Luke Pakula against Jesse Vargas. Jesse fell slightly behind and offline compared to Luke’s lead line.
Luke was able to follow and mimic Jesse Vargas’ line almost flawlessly, earning him the win and 1st place podium!
Jesse Vargas shows his support to 1st place Luke Pakula during announcements, after securing a 2nd place finish for himself!
2nd place is an amazing finish for Jesse! He was able to outperform amazing drivers this round.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Top Drift round 4 winners! 1st place Luke Pakula, 2nd place Jesse Vargas, 3rd place Andy Hateley.
While the crowd gathered on track for the season winners and FD license announcements, Justin Pawlak took a moment to thank everybody for being a part of the 2012 season.
2012 season winners! 1st place Luke Pakula, 2nd place Dan Brockett, 3rd place Karl Osaki!
Just Drift/Top Drift is a family, so being a part of drivers gaining experience and moving on to professional drifting is an honor. Here are the 2013 Formula Drift license recipients:
Luke Pakula – 1st place 2012 season champion.
Dan Brockett – 2nd place 2012 season.
Karl Osaki – 3rd place 2012 season.
Andy Hateley – 4th place 2012 season.
Eric Hill – 5th place 2012 season.
Alex Villabrille – 6th place 2012 season.
I want to express how much joy Ive experienced this past year being a part of the Top Drift experience, even just as media. Ive gained many friendships that i will treasure forever, and i wish nothing but the best for all of those who move on to FD, and those who simply decide to come back for another year. I also want to give a special thank you to the entire Just Drift family for letting me in and being a part of the most awesome ProAm drifting organization on the planet. Thank you!
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