If the subtitle above looks a little unfamiliar to you, join the crowd. In for 2011 is a new stop on the Formula D tour: Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR), formerly known as Moroso Motorsports Park, just northwest of West Palm Beach. In is PBIR, out is Sonoma...the rest is the same. Well, except for the drifting, that is.
The two halves of the Top 32 Qualifying ladder could almost have been divided in two: V-8–powered vets ranking 1-16, and the upstarts claiming the rest. Needless to say, rivalries and upsets were prevalent in Florida, beginning with Tyler McQuarrie’s narrow advance in Top 32 eliminations, when the crowd apparently felt (strongly) that opponent Jeff Jones drove his 1JZ-powered S13 better than McQuarrie’s V-8–powered Falken Tire 350Z. Subsequent bouts saw a Mazda matchup when Charles Ng’s Evasive Motorsports V-8–powered FC took out Joon Woo Maeng’s Bergenholtz Racing three-rotor RX-8, a GM matchup in which Grunewald’s Hankook Tire Camaro elliminated Eric O’Sullivan’s Gardella Racing V-8 Solstice, a Team NFS matchup between Matt Powers (V-8 S14, advancing) and Fredrick Aasbo (RWD tC), and even a 350Z versus 350Z brawl: South African Otto Graven’s V-8 taking out Canadian Matt Waldin’s six. Somehow, relative-upstart Kyle Mohan (compared to his rival) knocked out Dai’s V-8 Falken Tire S13 with his 13B-powered Nexen Tire RX-8.
Can you believe that as far as the season’s third round Sam Hubinette had yet to qualify for competition? Mechanical setbacks postponed the season debut of his Challenger until Florida, just in time for it to be taken out by Chris Forsberg’s NOS 370Z in the round of 16. Elsewhere, McQuarrie’s Z KO’d Ng’s FC, JR benched Graven, and Mohan’s Mazda fell to Millen’s Hyndai.
Top 8 saw Pawlak take out Powers, McNamara take out Grunewald, Forsberg take out McQuarrie, and Vaughn Gittin best Millen. Finals would see Forsberg ultimately lose to Gittin in a OMT round, after just barely scraping a clipping point. Pawlak and McNamara squared off for the third time this season, this time with Pawlak moving on after what was decidedly the closest battle thus far. Come the battle for Third, two possible outcomes were possible: a first-ever Drift Alliance podium sweep, or a third Falken Tire sweep. As soon as Forsberg over-rotated into the first turn, which one it would be became clear. In yet another friendly(ish) rivalry, Pawlak edged out Gittin, using his old car, to “stick it to him” as they say.
Formula D Round 3: Invasion
1st: Justin Pawlak
2nd: Vaughn Gittin, Jr.
3rd: Darren McNamara