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Formula Drift Streets of Long Beach - Every Underdog Has Their Day

Event: Formula D Round 1:Streets Of Long Beach; Long Beach, CA

Jonathan Wong
Jul 1, 2009
Photographer: Super Street Staff

In their fifth return to represent the American pro drifting circuit, Formula D kicked its season off with the most unexpected results: the underdogs of the game knocking out prior champions before the Top 16 even got underway. This is not to say that any driver is unworthy or incapable of topping the best of the best, but in a series long dominated by the likes of Rhys Millen, Sam Hubinette and Tanner Foust, it's a much-welcomed breath of fresh air to see drivers like Ryan Tuerck take the top spot on the podium and proves that 2009 is the year where we can expect anything to happen.

Formula D made a few tweaks to their existing program, including a 32-car tandem competition format to replace the previous 16-car format and a new addition to the judging panel with former driver, Tony Angelo, who took over Ken Takahashi's spot after he moved to the FD Pro Am judging position. The decision to switch to a Top 32 standard came after a proven test run at the Red Bull World Championship last year and is actually more exciting to watch since it creates a larger and more diverse playing field, making it anyone's game once it starts (the top qualifier goes head-to-head with the lowest qualifier). Early on, we saw big names, like Rhys (taken out by Stephan Verdier) and some of Team Falken's crew, including Dai Yoshihara, Tyler McQuarrie, Calvin Wan and Darren McNamara - but we do expect to see them all back in the groove of things come future events, especially Rhys, Dai, Tyler and Calvin as they all continue to dial in their new cars. Calvin took a big hit with his new S15 Silvia (previously Dai's car, which was previously NOB Taniguchi's) when he hit the wall while competing against Ryan Tuerck. Several other notable crashes include newcomer Jeff Jones in the Cooper Tires 240SX hatchback and Conrad Grunewald in the Tanaka Corvette. We were also stoked to see drivers in either new or refreshed cars, like Joon Maeng in his army green Sileighty (now working three jobs to be able to travel and be competitive), Ross Petty's rasta-inspired S15 and former D1 champ Katsuhiro Ueo in the Drift Speed S15.

One rule that changed from last year, however, was the infamous "one more time" rule, where only a single "one more time" could be awarded to prevent too many from occurring. But since the judging format also changed - with each judge being responsible for their respective categories of either speed, line and style - it was no longer an average of three judges making a call on all three categories, therefore necessitating multiple "one more time" calls should it be deemed appropriate. And boy, were there no hesitations to use a "one more time" ruling to its full extent. For fans, this was a "one more time" wonderland and settled many close calls, including the long debated Third place decider between Robbie Nishida and Tanner Foust. The decision eventually went to Tanner who drove his new Scion tC with a TRD V8 engine and we're impressed he took a podium spot in his first outing. Sam Hubinette roughed it out once again against Vaughn Gittin Jr., who have had several infamous battles at both FD and D1, but after Vaughn tapped Sam's Viper in the last "one more time" battle between the two, Sam was awarded the win and the chance to face Ryan Tuerck in the final heads-up match of the day. Here, it was a familiar finalist against someone's first time to the finals, but the Gary Gardella-built Pontiac Solstice proved to be the best, giving Ryan a big first win in the Formula D series - and at that, a much deserved win, considering the new competition format.

Like we said, in 2009, expect the unexpected from drifting. It's shaping up to be the best season yet...

RESULTS
FIRST RYAN TUERCK GARDELLA RACING/MOBIL 1 PONTIAC SOLSTICE GXP
SECOND SAMUEL HUBINETTE NUFORMZ/MOPAR/BFG DODGE VIPER
THIRD TANNER FOUST ROCKSTAR/AEM/SCION RACING SCION {{{tC}}}
FOURTH ROBBIE NISHIDA HANKOOK NISSAN {{{350Z}}}
By Jonathan Wong
485 Articles

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