Formula D kicked off their 9th season of drifting on the Streets of Long Beach, the first and still the lone drifting competition to take place on actual city streets. Several drivers were debuting new cars, sponsorships, and liveries, but once the track went hot, all that mattered was how well you drove your car. Crowds at the first event were the largest in history, selling-out before the event was even open on race day.
As qualifying got underway, Ryan Tuerck was able to maneuver the Retaks S13 to a high score of 97, with Rhys Millen earning a 96 in his Hyundai Genesis and qualifying second while Vaughn Gittin Jr pushed his Monster Energy Drink Ford Mustang qualified third with a score of 95. All three of the top qualifying runs happened just a few moments apart, keeping the crowd on their feet and cheering. One of the casualties of qualifying was crowd favorite Walker Wilkerson, who unfortunately spun on both qualifying laps. Of the 19 rookies who showed up in Long Beach looking to qualify, five were able to make the cut including D1GP champion Daigo Saito and XDC champion Chelsea Denofa.
Tandem battles are known to separate the men from the boys, and this year’s Long Beach event would be no different. The wall in front of the courseworker lovingly dubbed “Santa” claimed Darren McNamara in his top 32 battle, while 2010 champ Vaughn Gittin Jr lost drift at the hairpin in his battle with Odi Bakchis. Much-hyped D1GP champion Daigo Saito lived up to the buildup by finishing third, eliminating fellow rookie George Marstanovic, Rhys Millen, and Tyler McQuarrie before falling to defending champ Dai Yoshihara in the final 4. Dai would go on to battle Justin Pawlak for the win but would narrowly fall short, giving Pawlak his second win in Long Beach in as many years. Pawlak will lead the pack as FD heads to Atlanta for the second round of the series.
1. Justin Pawlak - Falken Tire Ford Mustang - 106 Points
2. Daijiro Yoshihara - Discount Tire / Falken Tire Nissan S13 - 92 Points
3. Daigo Saito - Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 - 78.50 Points
4. Matt Powers - Need for Speed / Nitto Nissan S14 - 69.50 Points
5. Ryan Tuerck - Team Retaks Nissan 240SX - 66 Points
6. Tyler McQuarrie - Mobil 1 GoPro Camaro - 64 Points
6. Rhys Millen - Hankook / Rhys Millen Racing Hyundai Genesis Coupe - 64 Points
8. Chris Forsberg - NOS Energy Drink / Hankook Nissan 370Z - 63 Points
9. Ken Gushi - Scion Racing Scion FR-S - 62 Points
10. Kenny Moen - Lutz Performance Nissan 350Z - 61.50 Points