Formula Drift Long Beach – Top 16 to Podium – April 5, 2014

APE_IMAGE-FD14rd1_0321As promised, we continue our “competition to podium” play by play coverage of Formula Drift Round 1, “The Streets of Long Beach”. We left you at the end of Top 32 before the break in our first article, so now we will get into Top 16.

Top 16

1. Essa vs. Baribeau – Essa
With a lead run like Essa’s, it’s hard almost not hard to believe that he has a chance to be a contender for the title again this year. He enters early and clean, drifting deep into the massive SPEEDHUNTERS banner before smoothly switching direction towards the Firestone bridge and the clipping point. Somewhere behind, Mats unfortunately makes a small correction allowing Essa to gain distance as he speeds into the main outer clipping zone with a vicious cloud following him. The large Toyota sedan launches towards the entry of the course but cannot shake the New Egg Auto BMW from its tail. Essa skillfully keeps the coupe within striking distance and leaves room for the Gold in The Net sedan to slip up slightly and go wide on the last clip. Will it be the 2013 Rookie of the Year, Baribeau, or will it be the 2013 Season Champ, Essa? Essa takes the edge at 2-1.

2. Mertzanis vs. Wang – Wang
There could not be 2 cars that are less alike in the entire field than these two competitors vehicles. The frankenswap Hyundai supercharged LS V8, vs. the kryptonite green Nissan S14 with a 2JZ. Forrest leads Mertzanis hard into the the first clipping zone and leaves him unable to match his line, as he sweeps across the entirety of the course. Mertzanis follows on a very shallow line as Forrest fluidly careens in a smoke filled skid in front of the main grandstands, much to the delight of fans. With the new scoring platform geared towards more stylish runs, Wang should reign supreme. Dennis makes a slight mistake on the last apex, slightly stalling at full lock. The judges let Forrest pass, as his lead run was pretty damn good.

3. Moen vs. Mohan – Moen
This battle leaves Jarod almost speechless. Literally. The drivers last names so similar, not much can be said during the run as it is pretty confusing when you think of it. Moen goes barrier to barrier with Mohan’s now scrappy looking vehicle chomping at the bit over his shoulder. Mohan has nothing to lose after his wreck during Top 16, as he hurtles his Mazda Trix RX8 back and forth in front of a hungry Norwegian. Moen eeks a victory, which could have easily slid into a “OMT” match.

SaturdayFDLB (42 of 67)
4. Aasbo vs. Grunewald – Grunewald
Faster than you can say “Rocket Bunny” – the Megan Racing Camaro darts suddenly into Aasbo’s door as he sets his line for entry. The impact forces him towards the tire wall with a heavy Chevy right behind him, seemingly bound for disaster. The cars stop before impacting again with the wall, and separate with the crowd on its feet as they enter the main corridor. No doubt the fault of Grunewald, the first run goes to Fredric. We’ll catch up with this battle a little later on…. Hopefully.

5. Gittin vs. McNamara – McNamara
Former Falken team mates, Jr. and D-mac put on an exciting show for the fans with tons of smoke filling the sunny skies of Long Beach. D-mac doesn’t flinch and holds tight to Jr.’s line and close, but not too close. With so much seat time, you would expect nothing but perfect lines from the Monster Energy Ford Mustang Driver, time and time again. While in the chase position, Jr. falters under the bridge and nearly goes too wide into the 2nd clipping zone. By the time he forces his foot down, D-Mac is running away with an end to his clean run. D-Mac steals all of the judges votes due to that small error which ruined Jr.’s chase run.

6. Forsberg vs. Goodin – Forsberg
This crowd has gone deadly silent. A Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion…. err, wait wrong story – but very close to actual events.

With Daigo Saito’s issue in Top 32 against Pat Goodin, and subsequent inability to make it back to battle due to having used his competition time-out during qualifying – Goodin is placed into the steel cage death match of death with Chris Forsberg. The battle-scarred Turbo V8 S13 steers into Forsberg’s line, matching it closely with little room for any errors. Chis leads with smooth fluid lines, putting his tail on the edge each and every time he should, and leaves his wing on the wall after the course end. The Carbon end piece gets hung up on the fence causing the entire wing to sheared off and fall to the ground only to be crushed by Pat Goodin. Goodin, who has been driving like a beast the entire weekend, leads with valor and integrity, but leaves marginally wider gaps between the wall and his car, being followed by “the Force” around the final apex. Chris seals the deal and slides it cleanly from cone to wall and takes the V – advancing to the Great 8.

7. McQuarrie vs. Bakchis – Bakchis
With many of the cars having V8’s, you never know what is under the hood. Odi’s S14 is being driven by the same manufacturer’s motor as McQuarrie – but only one can score viable “Manufacturer Series” points due to mismatched engine and chassis manufacturing of the other. The lines set by Tyler are solid, much smoke, much angle, much noise. Odi lunges in hard on the main sweeper, almost paralleling the Mobil 1 Chevy Camaro door to door, getting the fans on their feet. Considering the horsepower difference, when Odi chucks his entry, he leaves Tyler hanging at the gate and pulls about 4 cars in gap across the main sweeper. Tyler can not make up enough ground to try to shut the Nitto Tires burning S14 from putting that final point on the run as he crosses the course end. Judges score Odi 2 votes to Tyler’s 1 and move him gracefully into the Great 8.

8. Pawlak vs. Tuerck – Pawlak
With V8’s coming stock in cars, it’s no wonder they reach for the highest horsepower numbers. Bolt-on parts seemingly rain from the sky, like JTP’s Ford Mustang, which is beefed up by a Roush Performance kit. You can probably order that from Summit. Tuerck, who’s putting in his second season behind the spooling 2JZ in his Retaks FRS, chases the raging mustang through the track. The mustang flicks into the entry and puts in a deep lead run with Tuerck kinda shook from the onset. Ryan has a little bit to make up as he smoke screens JTP in front of the grandstands and judges. There was a slight jitter in Tuerck’s initiation which becomes evident after the replay plays on the Jumbotron screen. 2 to 1, JTP has earned himself a passing score into the Great 8.

And now… the continuation of Aasbo vs. Grunewald Conrad’s car looks like something out of Mad Max with no front bumper and his hood being fastened down with what appears to be duct tape. hey, cool with me – whatever passes tech. It appears as if Aasbo is leaving a decent space for Conrad to drive through the course and let the deductions of causing a collision play itself out. No sooner can the Motegi Scion TC call a victory as Conrad veers very wide and allows the neon orange and white TC to slide inside for a legal pass to finish the course.

Despite being forced to drive with a damaged car, Aasbo still proved he is a force to be reckoned with – if people in big domestic cars would stop crashing into him. He gets the win and advances.

Great 8

1. Essa vs. Wang – Essa
Michael Essa puts down a run very similar to the run that earned him top qualifier for the event, initiating the 2nd clip very early and holding his deep on the wall, but this causes Forrest to straighten slightly.
Forrest is able to maintain proximity to the Essa around the last clip, but the mistake will not be overlooked. The Essa Auto BMW chases down the glimmering green S14 with precision. The judges decide that Essa will advance.

2. Moen vs. Aasbo – Moen
Another national battle… First the Irish Battle in the Top 32, and now a battle of Norwegians. Aasbo and Moen have been styling it hard all day with smoke filled runs and consistent lines. Aasbo having just made it back to battle after being crashed into, now has to deal with a demon behind the wheel with Moen. The neon TC doesn’t look to be very stable, as Moen slyly gets wide and then speeds away through the main sweeper. The same is not said for Aasbo’s lead run, he chucks it in hard and runs the entire course with Moen not looking too shabby behind him. The lead run can’t make up for the uneasy chase that Aasbo put in, and Moen scoots away with a win.

3. McNamara vs. Forsberg – Forsberg
Chris can’t be stopped on his lead runs, he’s putting it all on the wall – probably running a foot or less from each outer clip as D-Mac gives chase. The Falken S14 will clip the last apex a bit too close and knock the the white pylon out of its base giving him a deduction as he powers out through the end of the course. The Force is not stopped, he follows D-Mac though each clip with ease. Never missing a mark, the all black #64 advances.

4. Bakchis vs. Pawlak
At this point, the feint entry of JTP in the Teal and Blue Mustang is no surprise to the drivers as Odi mirrors the entry and follows close through the first apex and into the channel of walls. Unfortunately, Odi transitions a bit too early and loses a lot of angle and falls off line with JTP burning a cloud leading him in front of the judges. The end of the run leaves the bumper of the Feal Suspension S14 slightly ajar as the clipping cone was struck on the last apex. JTP runs a clean chase run with the S14 running a shallow line through the course. JTP will advance to Final 4 competition.

Final 4

1. Essa vs. Moen – Moen
Wow, Essa’s lead run is balls to the walls insane, he runs so deep that he nearly clips the tire wall near the second clipping zone. The smoke is plentiful, but Moen is able to see through it and keep pace. The second run has some imperfections by both drivers, this is a tough one for the judges but Essa will advance. His lead run was that good.

SaturdayFDLB (54 of 67) 2. Forsberg vs. Pawlak – Forsberg
Pawlak enters hard on a feint transition that carries him easily from wall -to-wall through the remainder of the course, leaving the grandstands in a cloud of Falken tire smoke. Chris runs the course deeper, setting a dark band on the farthest stretch of drivable surface each run. The victory falls to Chris who will advance to the final ending JTP’s run to the podium.


1. Moen vs. Forsberg – Forsberg
Kenny comes around the first corner with a tail full of smoke and the all black car of Forsberg buried in his door. His line is consistent and he powers through Bills bridge hitting the clip at speed but straightens slightly near the second clip. He exits the course cleanly while Forseberg doesn’t falter and stays close.
Chris has been dragging ass all day, but in the best way possible – at this point he doesn’t even replace the now missing wing out back that has been left on the wall multiple times. His line is one that is tough to imitate, but Moen is not put off so easily and stays smoking behind #64 through the end of the course.

The Victory in the final match is awarded to Forsberg who will place 1st for the day. Moen will stand tall on the 2nd place platform and 3rd place will default to Michael Essa, by way of the new rule. Which I don’t like, more door banging drift battles please.


SaturdayFDLB (58 of 67)
1. Forsberg
2. Moen
3. Essa

How it should should have ended…
3. Essa over JTP in a tire blazing battle
Both drivers know what it’s like to push their cars to the limit’s at between these tight Walls. Essa would have kept cool under pressure most likely left JTP in the tires or, worse, a wall as both were running extremely deep lines all weekend.

Thanks for checking out our coverage of Formula Drift Round 1, “The Streets of Long Beach, and thanks to Formula Drift for having us! See you in Atlanta for Round 2, “Road to the Championship”!

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