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Formula Drift 2013 Final Fight

The 10th season comes to a close at Irwindale Speedway with a BMW privateer as the champ

Oct 14, 2013
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1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Michael Essa BMW M3 31 Photo 1/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Michael Essa BMW M3 31

Formula Drift Final Fight Details:

  • Michael Essa qualifies first and takes home the championship
  • Largest motorsports event in venue's history
  • Daigo Saito takes first place in Irwindale round
  • Forrest Wang reaches his first podium

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 ARK Hyundai Genesis 07 Photo 2/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 ARK Hyundai Genesis 07

The smell of burnt rubber slapping you in the face, the sounds of roaring engines, the endlessly fascinating sight of a rear-wheel drive car kissing the wall: Formula Drift is nothing but sensory overload. Irwindale Speedway also known as the "House of Drift" is always an exciting round as the last event of the season and the crowning of the Formula D champion. This year was particularly important as it marks the 10th year in Formula D history. Despite the intense energy in the sold out crowd, these premier drift drivers were able to retain razor sharp focus and push the boundaries between car control and wrecking out.

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Chris Jeanneret Nissan 240SX LS6 motor 18 Photo 6/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Chris Jeanneret Nissan 240SX LS6 Motor 18
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Ryan Tuerck Scion FRS 49 Photo 7/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Ryan Tuerck Scion FRS 49

Like every Formula D event, the day before was the qualifying round. Qualifying first was privateer Michael Essa in the GSR Autosports BMW M3 with a speed of 70.6mph and a score of 96.6,. Vaughn Gittin Jr. landed second piloting the Nitto Tire/Monster Energy Ford Mustang, and third was Ryan Tuerck in his 2JZ-powered Retaks/Maxxis/Enjuku Scion FR-S.

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Ken Gushi Autograph Session 19 Photo 8/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Ken Gushi Autograph Session 19

On the big day the Top 32 was set and all eyes were on track to see who would advance. The tables can turn quickly in the world of drifting competition and Michael Bay couldn't have written a more climactic series of events when points leader Michael Essa blew a motor and could not move onto the Top 16.

"I went out there and was able to do it, qualifying first and gaining another 12 points. That put us far enough ahead that even though we had a motor blow up in Top 32 and couldn't move past Top 16 we were able to sit on the sidelines to watch it unfold," said Essa. He continued, offering more insight to the failed engine.

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Michael Essa BMW M3 Engien Bay 56 Photo 9/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Michael Essa BMW M3 Engien Bay 56

"Our motor blew up. I don't think it was the bottom end - the bottom end is solid with CP pistons and Carrillo rods. We're a privateer team with a small budget so our top end was all stock and I think we just lost a valve and a valve ate a piston and that was it."

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Forsberg Versus Saito 52 Photo 10/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Forsberg Versus Saito 52

The Great Eight was a mix of past champions such as Gittin, Saito, and Forsberg, as well as new faces including Forrest Wang, Robbie Nishida, and Dean Kearney. With Essa's car down, Forsberg had the opportunity to become champion only to be edged out by Saito ultimately securing Essa's championship.

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Chris Forsberg Nismo Front Bumper 35 Photo 14/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Chris Forsberg Nismo Front Bumper 35

After driving exceptionally well this season, a disappointed Forsberg offered us a few words about his round protest and what to look out for next year,

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Bakchis Vs Forsberg 48 Photo 15/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Bakchis Vs Forsberg 48

"Next year we're going to try to bring it bigger and better as always. I'm super proud of my team for giving me the best car I've ever had and the best shot we had to win the championship this year. And we were super happy to bring that chance to Hankook Tire and a second win to NOS Energy drink. However, it's a real disappointment to see the championship decided over a technicality as per a disregard of clearly stated rules in the Formula Drift rulebook - rules that state if you are unable to fix your car in 5 minutes than you forfeit," said Forsberg.

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 McQuarrie Versus Wang 54 Photo 16/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Mcquarrie Versus Wang 54
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Archiles Lexus SC300 Vertex Side Skirt 55 Photo 17/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Archiles Lexus SC300 Vertex Side Skirt 55

Going into the Final Four the consolation round was the battle of Japanese muscle: the 2JZ with Forrest Wang in in his Nissan 240SX and Robbie Nishida's Lexus SC300 both powered by the inline-six motor. After a mistake from Nishida, Wang was able to land a podium spot in third. The final match pitted Daigo Saito in his beast 1200hp Lexus SC430 and Tyler McQuarrie's monster Chevrolet Camaro SS. Going into turn three McQuarrie pushed too hard and made contact with the wall giving Saito first place.

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Archilles Lexus SC430 45 Photo 18/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Archilles Lexus SC430 45

"To tell the truth I was not really feeling it in practice, but when the battles began and the lights turned on I was able to pull it together when it counted and am happy for the win to end the season," said Daigo Saito, winner of Round 7: Final Fight. "I had a lot of issues with the car this year and I feel we weren't able to get the car to the condition I really needed to be more competitive, but coming in third overall is something I am proud and happy about."

The Final Standings of the year had Michael Essa in 1st place with a total of 555.50 points, Chris Forsberg in 2nd with 538 points, and Daigo Saito with 510.50 points.

"Coming into this event I wanted to prove that this season wasn't a fluke and sitting on the sideline wasn't how I wanted the event to go down, but unfortunately that is what happened tonight," said Michael Essa, 2013 Formula DRIFT champion. "The Formula DRIFT championship has always been my goal and I am extremely excited. There are so many amazing drivers and teams in the Series and being able to just compete with them is an honor. We are hoping to carry this momentum into the next season and earn more wins."

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 DTM Fiberwerkez GTR Kit 32 Photo 19/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 DTM Fiberwerkez GTR Kit 32

For the first time in Formula D history Essa managed to pilot a European car into a championship. Also new for the 10th season of Formula D were the tire championships and the manufacturer championships. Lexus managed to win the bespoke manufacturer championship, and Hankook takes the first ever tire championship.

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Top 16 41 Photo 20/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Top 16 41

"What a way to complete the tenth season with the biggest crowd and probably the biggest motorsport event ever in Irwindale Speedway history," said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. "We are extremely grateful for the fans, sponsors and drivers that have helped grow the series over the ten years and we look forward to many more seasons to come."

1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Get Nuts Nissan 240SX 29 Photo 21/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Get Nuts Nissan 240SX 29

Ten years and still sliding? Sign us up for another ten! And with Essa's BMW victory, can we expect to see more Euros in drifting? You'll just have to stay tuned next year and find out.

2013 formula drift season finale podium irwindale events center 08 Photo 22/55   |   Podium photos by Bob Hernandez
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Media Run 44 Photo 26/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Media Run 44
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Scion FR S Rays Wheels 47 Photo 27/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Scion FR S Rays Wheels 47
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Fatlace Nissan 240sx Seibon Hood 28 Photo 34/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Fatlace Nissan 240Sx Seibon Hood 28
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Hankook Scion TC Motegi Traklite 04 Photo 35/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Hankook Scion TC Motegi Traklite 04
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper Front Bumper 25 Photo 39/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper Front Bumper 25
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Daigo Saito 14 Photo 40/55   |  
Daigo Saito
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Kei Miura 13 Photo 44/55   |  
Kei Miura
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Mazda RX7 Volk TE37 21 Photo 48/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Mazda RX7 Volk TE37 21
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Brittani Paige Marissa Hiroko 36 Photo 52/55   |  
Brittani Paige and Marissa Hiroko
Formula_Drift_Final_Fight_2013_crowd Photo 53/55   |   Photo by Sean Russell
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Hoonigan RWB Porsche Rotiform 24 Photo 54/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Hoonigan RWB Porsche Rotiform 24
1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Bleachers 39 Photo 55/55   |   1310 Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway Final Fight 2013 Bleachers 39
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Jofel Tolosa
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