Hotlanta. Home to the second smoking Round of Formula D. There was a large crowd gathered at the event, even on Friday’s practice session, before the actual event had started. Maybe this was due to Formula D’s radio advertisement campaign, or maybe the fans from last year’s event were just excited to see the top drifters in the United States go at it again.
All the top names were out in full force, with quite a few newly redone cars, such as the wine red S13 Silvia being driven by Pacific Rim’s Daijiro Yoshihara and the teal and blue Mustang of JR Gittin from Team Falken. However, missing from the driver lineup was Robbie Nishida from the Japan-based drift team Hey Man, who couldn’t compete due to lack of a car.
Unfortunately, the Team Orange S13 “Silvia K-truck” he drove at the Round 1 event had to be shipped back to Japan within a certain time period due to strict US customs rules, and it couldn’t overstay its visit just to make it to Atlanta. Other new developments include the debut of Kumho’s new tires, which produced red smoke.
The qualifying and Top 16 runs were very exciting, with Calvin Wan qualifying in First Place with his new G35 coupe, and top domestic drivers like Rhys Millen and Samuel Hubinette following right on Calvin’s heels.
Top 16 Drivers
1 Calvin Wan, Team Falken G35
2 Rhys Millen, Team RMR GTO
3 Samuel Hubinette, Mopar Viper
4 Alex Pfeiffer, RS*R S2000
5 JR Gittin, Team Falken Mustang
6 Chris Forsberg, Team Falken Silvia S15
7 Casper Canul, Monstor 240SX
8 Ken Gushi, Ford Racing Mustang
9 Seigo Yamamoto, Team Falken RX7
10 Mike Peterson, Bubba Drift El Camino
11 Taka Aono, Team Falken AE86
12 Kenji Yamanaka, Team Rotora Sileighty
13 Dai Yoshihara, Pacific Rim Silvia S13
14 Ben Schwartz, Team Falken 240SX
15 Tony Angelo, Team Falken Silvia
16 Rob Fleming, Enjuku Racing 240SX
On a side note, there was quite a bit of controversy regarding the judging of some of the runs, especially that of Taka Aono’s AE86 and Samuel Hubinette’s Viper. While some people were happy to see the Iceman back on top of his game, some people protested about the judges overusing the “One More Time” clause because they couldn’t reach a decision on who won the intense and exciting tandem battle between the Viper and the Corolla. After THREE additional rounds of “One More Time,” Taka was forced to withdraw from the tandem battle because his car was overheating due to too many consecutive runs.
It was almost like a repeat of the previous year’s heated battle in Atlanta between Alex Pfeiffer’s Battleversion AE86 and Hubinette’s Viper Competition Coupe. It was just a bit different this time, because Taka was driving an all motor AE86, and Alex’s Corolla from last year was turbocharged. Also, Hubinette’s new Viper is much closer to factory settings, since so many people complained about his almost-undefeatable Viper from last year.
Either way you look at it, both drivers were awesome. Samuel Hubinette is a hell of a driver, no matter what car he is in, whether it be a Viper or a Supra or a Corolla, for that matter. Taka Aono, on the other hand is shaping up to be the underdog AE86 hero of the United States, much like a slimmer version of Japan’s D1 AE86 hero Katsuhiro Ueo. Taka drove his AE86 to the limit, keeping the needle pegged at redline almost the whole time during his runs with Samuel. His line was perfect, his angle was deep, and his entry speed was awesome, especially when you consider he was driving a relatively low power, N/A 4-cylinder motor. However, Samuel is not an easy driver to beat. The judges definitely viewed Samuel’s runs to be perfect as well. He is undoubtedly one of the best drivers in the United States, and the results speak for themselves, as Samuel made his way to the top of the podium again, as he beat Pac Rim’s Dai Yoshihara in the exciting final battle. This series is shaping up to be very interesting indeed.
1st Place: Samuel Hubinette, Mopar Viper
2nd Place: Daijiro Yoshihara, Pacific Rim Silvia
3rd Place: Rhys Millen, RMR GTO