After a relatively spectacular start to its foray into North American pro drifting just a few short years ago, it's become painfully evident to most fans that the prominent Hondas on the scene have indeed fallen off. Competition armed with more power, easier-to-oversteer chassis, and increasingly experienced drivers has essentially minimized the effects of the beloved S2000s that are out there sliding on behalf of the big H.
This was the case at the season closer for the Formula D series, held on a blustery October evening at the so-called "House of Drift." None of the Hondas have been all that competitive this year, so nothing was really on the line for whatever points haul was left in this round. Additionally, all of the drivers we're used to seeing - Tyler McQuarrie, Steph Papadakis, Pierre Kleinubing - were in the house, but unfortunately not all their cars were with them.
Papadakis and the AEM/DriverFX.com roadster did not make the field of 32 for Saturday's eliminations. Both spent most of the day chilling in the pits. Kleinubing was sans the RealTime S2K altogether, which we hear is not quite ready to compete yet anyway. He instead bummed a ride from A'PEXi, who loaned him its FD chassis RX-7. Despite showing impressive form, he wasn't judged among top 16 and his day ended early on Saturday.
The last hope of the bunch, Tyler McQuarrie and the RS*R S2000, put up a valiant fight through 3 rounds of eliminations. Qualifying 8th among the Top 16, his first tandem foe was Yukinobu Okubo in the Signal Auto R34 Skyline. After making quick work of Okubo, McQuarrie had to square off against a red-hot Tanner Foust and the AEM 350Z. The battle was epic. The duo ultimately made an amazing 5 passes (versus the typical 2 by tandems) before the RS*R car parked itself into the wall in the first part of turn 3 and took the AEM car with it. While judges gave the round to Foust, the accident essentially took both cars out of the running.
For those keeping track, Dai Yoshihara and the Rockstar S13 Silvia won the event, and Sam Hubinette and the Mopar Viper won the overall Formula D Championship for 2006. As for Honda fans, we're left looking ahead to '07 and hopefully a better outcome than this year had.