Motegi Super Drift Challenge – LBGP – April 11-12, 2014

   $25,000, thats a lot of money, and Motegi Racing would award it to the winners of the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge in the after hours of the second day of the Long Beach Grand Prix, on the same portion of track that Formula Drift used the weekend before. For $25,000, even we thought about drifting so we could have a chance! The Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge was invite only, which dashed our dreams of being newbie heroes.

2014superdriftlb-1The voice of Formula Drift, Jarod DeAnda, was on hand to provide his usually hilarious and insightful commentary to the Long Beach Grand Prix crowd.

2014superdriftlb-2Even though Formula Drift Round 1 was a week in the past, there were still rules and judging criteria that required driver’s meetings before each night of drifting. The Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge ran 2 days…practice and qualifying on Friday the 11th, and practice and competition on Saturday the 12th.

2014superdriftlb-3All 16 drivers and teams that were invited were setup on the same pit lane that IndyCar, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and Pirelli World Challenge use during their visit to Long Beach.

2014superdriftlb-4Since the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge is part of the Long Beach Grand Prix schedule, LBGP ticket holders were invited to partake in the Formula Drift excitement, many who would be seeing drifting for the first time.

2014superdriftlb-5The top 3 finishers would take home these beautiful carbon fiber Formula Drift trophies, but only one of those 3 would be leaving with $25,000.

Watch Friday night qualifying here.


The competitors

(in order of Friday nights qualifying scores)

2014superdriftlb-8Forrest Wang – 87

2014superdriftlb-11Daigo Saito – 85

2014superdriftlb-17Odi Bakchis – 84

2014superdriftlb-6Kenneth Moen – 84

2014superdriftlb-7Fredric Aasbo – 81

2014superdriftlb-18Michael Essa – 80

2014superdriftlb-9Dean Kearney – 76 (pictured with Robbie Nishida – car back in pit getting repaired)

2014superdriftlb-16Toshiki Yoshioka – 70

2014superdriftlb-20Jeff Jones – 69

2014superdriftlb-12Ryan Kado – 66

2014superdriftlb-14Kuniaki Takahashi – 62

2014superdriftlb-13Charles Ng – 59

2014superdriftlb-15Kyle Mohan – 50

2014superdriftlb-10Robbie Nishida – 0

2014superdriftlb-21Brandon Wicknick – 0

2014superdriftlb-19Dennis Mertzanis – 0


Top 16

Watch the entire Top 16 competition here.

Forrest Wang vs. Dennis Mertzanis
Toshiki Yoshioka vs. Jeff Jones
Kenneth Moen vs. Kyle Mohan
Fredric Aasbo vs. Charles Ng
Daigo Saito vs. Brandon Wicknick
Odi Bakchis vs. Robbie Nishida
Dean Kearney vs. Ryan Kado
Michael Essa vs. Kuniaki Takahashi

Forrest Wang vs. Dennis Mertzanis
The first battle of Super Drift was Forrest Wang vs. Dennis Mertzanis. Wang sets out on his lead lap and runs a very clean line, while the following Mertzanis cuts in too shallow on the sweeper below the judges, and overshoots the entry to the hairpin. Dennis on the lead during the second run, cant seem to shake Forrest, and bobbles on the transition to the hairpin. It was clearly a win for Forrest Wang, which the judges announce in a quick manner.

2014superdriftlb-23 Toshiki Yoshioka vs. Jeff Jones

Toshiki Yoshioka ran lead on the first run of this battle. Right off the bat, Yoshioka gained a distance of a few cars between him and Jones, which left Jones peddling hard to catch up. Both ran a clean line which judges were pleased with, but wished Jeff Jones was a little closer to Toshiki Yoshioka. On Jeff Jones’ lead, he ran a beautiful line nearly tapping the wall under the Firestone bridge, with Yoshioka very close on the follow the entire time. Transitioning into the hairpin, Yoshioka failed to give Jones enough room to swing his rear around, and plowed into him ripping off body parts and causing him to bobble. The judges CLEARLY did not see this from their view. We were on the hairpin and saw what happened with our own eyes, and in our opinion, Yoshioka was at fault, but the win still went to him and Jones parked his car.

Kenneth Moen vs. Kyle Mohan

Only having 5 days to prepare his World Drift Series China chassis after damaging his FD RX8, Kyle Mohan entered this battle with a huge disadvantage of no test time and having to face Kenny Moen, who has been on fire since FD Round 1 the previous weekend. Kenny Moen ran lead first, driving a very fluid line the judges wanted to see, with Kyle slightly straightening in the sweeper to keep up. Next run, Mohan layed down a very decent lead, but couldn’t shake Moen off his paint, as if he were tied to the rear bumper. Kenny Moen took the win.

Fredric Aasbo vs. Charles Ng

Wall to wall on his lead run, Aasbo runs a line in his rookie year car that Ng has very little difficulty following. On Ng’s lead run, Aasbo keeps insanely close proximity, only falling back when Ng overshoots the line coming out of the sweeper to the hairpin. Aasbo takes the win, but narrowly as one judge calls one more time.

Daigo Saito vs. Brandon Wicknick

Daigo Saito is the leader in the first run of this matchup, rocketing his 2JZ powered car away from the lesser powered 2JZ S13 of Brandon Wicknick. Wicknick does his best to close the gap, but not without straightening while going around the hairpin. Wanting to prove that he is a worthy FD competitor, Wicknick uses his lead run to get as close to the entry wall as possible, tapping it and ripping off his rear bumper, causing him to correct and re-initiate drift, while Daigo shuts it down behind him to avoid contact. Daigo Saito gets the win, but we have to take our hats off to Brandon Wicknick for taking it to the wall in an effort to prove himself after being plagued with mechanical issues all 2013, the past weekend in Long Beach, and qualifying for Super Drift. We are sure Daigo was smiling a little.

Odi Bakchis vs. Robbie Nishida

First leader of this match was Odi Bakchis. Odi made his way through the course cleanly, but Robbie Nishida bobbled on entry, messing up his line all the way through the course and the hairpin. On the follow, Odi keeps close proximity and runs a duplicate line of Robbie in front of him. Jarod calls Odi “surgical”, as he defeats Robbie and moves on to the Great 8.

2014superdriftlb-30Dean Kearney vs. Ryan Kado

Making an appearance after his team made last minute repairs on the Dodge Viper, Dean Kearney leads first. Both drivers having their own issues on the first run, Dean Kearney rockets away while leading, leaving Ryan Kado barely anywhere to be seen. Kado leading next, Kearney falls behind on he entry, making him play catch up before the Firestone bridge. Closing the gap very quickly due to power, Kearney does enough to take the win over Kado.

2014superdriftlb-31Michael Essa vs. Kuniaki Takahashi

Using the ENTIRE course, Essa lays down one of the most impressive lines all night, while Takahashi performs a mediocre follow and also runs over the hairpin clipping point. Takahashi, on his lead, failed to make the entry and straightening, sealing the win for Essa.


Great 8

Forrest Wang vs. Toshiki Yoshioka
Kenneth Moen vs. Fredric Aasbo
Daigo Saito vs. Dean Kearney
Mike Essa vs. Odi Bakchis

Forrest Wang vs. Toshiki Yoshioka

Forrest performed a typical super clean lead line, near all the clipping points. Yoshioka followed, but straightened several times. This may have sealed the deal before the second run of the battle. On his lead with Wang following, Yoshioka spins on entry, and Wang gets the win.

Kenneth Moen vs. Fredric Aasbo

In a battle of mighty Norwegians, Moen leads first and lays down an awesome line, tapping the wall on entry and running super deep close to the other walls, causing Fredric some trouble following and shutting it down before the hairpin clipping point. Fredric Aasbo also taps the wall on his lead, but Kenny Moen has no trouble following, and also doesn’t make a mistake at the hairpin like Fredric did, giving Moen the win.

Daigo Saito vs. Dean Kearney

Not much to say on this battle. Daigo ran an acceptable line on his lead, while Kearney spun out behind him on the transition from entry to sweeper. Dean Kearney leads and comes close to entry wall, but spins out again, causing Daigo to spin behind him while avoiding contact. Daigo Saito gets the win.

Mike Essa vs. Odi Bakchis

In a battle that many attendees and internet viewers thought should have ended in a different decision, Odi leads first and lays down a much better line than Essa, actually leaving Essa trailing and peddling to catch up. Come time for Essa to lead, he literally hugged 2 walls in a row, and layed down some thick smoke, which Odi followed ok, not perfect. One judge called Odi, one called Essa, and the 3rd called One More Time. We will revisit this pair after the next battle.


Final 4

Kenneth Moen vs. Forrest Wang
Mike Essa vs. Odi Bakchis (OMT continuation)
Daigo Saito vs. Mike Essa

Kenneth Moen vs. Forrest Wang

In one of the best pairings of the night, Forrest leads first, but Kenny follows so well that even the TV camera loses sight of him behind Forrest’s car for a few moments. Both Forrest and Kenny ran a great first run! Kenny charges hard into the entry on his first run, almost leaving Forrest a good distance behind, but Forrest quickly gets on the gas and catches up as Kenny runs a bad ass line. Great run from both drivers.The judges award the win to Moen due to Forrest’s slight lack of chase compared to Kenny.

Mike Essa vs. Odi Bakchis (One More Time run)

Revisiting this match-up that carried over from the Great 8 in a One More Time battle, Odi throws it all in as hard as he can on his lead, while Essa drops back and plays catch-up, not following the line exactly as Odi had laid out. Come Essa’s lead run, Odi kept close to Essa, but bobbled at the transition to the sweeper and taking a shallow line, unlike Essa. Odi continued to follow, and also had a slight correction before the hairpin, but Essa hit the clipping point marker! In what we believe should have been a One More Time in the very least, the judges gave the win to Mike Essa amidst a booing and disappointed crowd.

2014superdriftlb-1Daigo Saito vs. Mike Essa

Daigo speeds fast on his lead, but Mike Essa is not able to match the initiation, makes slight contact, and spins out while following right before the apex of the first turn. Needing to make it up and impress the judges, Essa full throttles on his lead and lays down a super thick trail of smoke, but Daigo is right there on his tail. 1 judge called One More Time, and the 2 others called Daigo Saito. Daigo Saito moves on to the final battle with Kenny Moen.


Final Battle for 1st

Daigo Saito vs. Kenneth Moen

Daigo Saito vs. Kenneth Moen

Daigo Saito leading, both drivers go the hardest of all battles all night, but Kenny makes contact with the sweeper wall, cuts the hairpin clipping point too short and straightens out going around it, while Daigo finishes a near perfect run. Kenny Moen performs a killer lead run, running every wall, but Daigo Saito ran shallow compared to Kenny’s line. Coming around the hairpin, Moen ran over the clipping point marker.


The Results

Judges were ready to announce the winner of the 2nd Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge as soon as Saito, Moen, and Wang made their way back on track.

Forrest Wang gets 3rd place…

2014superdriftlb-41Kenny Moen gets 2nd place…

Which means….Daigo Saito gets the 1st place win!

Congratulations to the drivers who made their way through a tough field of competitors to finish the 2014 Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge on a wonderful Long Beach Grand Prix weekend!

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