To say Round 1 of the 2015 Formula D Championship on the streets of Long Beach was crazy may be an understatement. We're pretty sure no one would've ever guessed the number one qualifier would fall to the number 32 qualifier. Or that the reigning series champ and 2014 Long Beach winner would fall in the Top 16. Or that both tandem battles in the Final 4 would need One-More-Time (OMT) tiebreakers, pushing the event within minutes of its curfew. Things ran so late, in fact, Long Beach PD was ready to open the drifting circuit to street traffic, as per the arrangement between FD and the city.
It was a marathon day, but one that set the tone for what could be an unpredictable season ahead. Eliminations kicked off with the implausible when Forrest Wang in his brand new Get Nuts Lab 2JZ-motivated LHD S15 Silvia straightened out in his chase against Matt Coffman's V8 S13, giving the opening Top 32 judgment to Coffman; less than 24 hours earlier, Wang had cinched the No. 1 qualifier, getting No. 32 Coffman in the draw. Our sources tell us only one other time in Formula D's 11-year history has a 32 beat a 1.
Favorites and champions continued to fall throughout the day. Twice champ Tanner Foust, returning this year to FD for a three-event run in the Rockstar Energy Passat, appears to need to shake off the cobwebs, also exiting in his first eliminator, this time to Justin Pawlak in the Roush Mustang. A round later Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy 370Z, reigning series champion and 2014 Long Beach winner, was unable to get by Pat Mordaunt in the Drift Paddock 350Z, Tyler McQuarrie's old Falken Tire ride.
As some greats struggled, others chiseled away at the day to ultimately make the final. Odi Bakchis in the ARK Performance Genesis Coupe stayed focused in spite of a number of OMT, getting past Conrad Grunewald in the AE Performance Camaro, Pawlak, Vaughn Gittin, Jr. in the Monster Energy Mustang, and Matt Field in the CX Racing S14. He faced in the event final Fredric Aasbo in the Rockstar Energy tC; fresh off of his runner-up season last year, the so-called "Norwegian Hammer" took out new-to-FD Masashi Yokio in the D-Max S15, Geoff Stoneback's S14, Tyler McQuarrie in the GoPro Camaro, and a persistent Ryan Tuerck in the Retaks FR-S.
Aasbo and Bakchis had it out to finish the day, with the Scion driver winning in the end. This is Aasbo's first victory at Long Beach, and a nice addition to his first victories at New Jersey's Wall Stadium and Texas Motor Speedway in 2014. Bakchis continues to improve as a driver and also add to his podium count, while Tuerck completed the top three, putting a second Scion on the podium.
Look for complete coverage from Formula D Long Beach 2015 later this week on Super Street Online.