As the Formula D season passes its halfway point, we see many more drivers and cars showing up to compete. The more seasoned veterans are showing the new blood how it’s done, delivering insane angles and entry speeds. Formula Drift Sonoma was the series’ first event in California for the season. With over 60 drift cars in attendance the fans were in for a wild ride. After Friday's practice and unseeded qualifying runs, the top 32 were determined for Saturday's top 16 eliminations. As Saturday came around, it was still anyone's game on the Infineon Raceway track. All the big names were in attendance as usual but a few new faces were a pleasant surprise. Signal brought Yukinobu Okubo, a new driver for their S13.5 and Robbie Nishida was sent from Japan to pilot Ryan Hampton's old S13. Hampton's new ride is a '69 Camaro!
The top 16 were decided however and the eliminations began. In the first round of tandems, top qualifier Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Team Falken Mustang went up against Drift Alliance teammate Tony Angelo in his RX-7. JR proved that his car was dialed in and ready to battle as he cruised into the great eight. Taka Aono in the Falken AE86 then took on Team Toyo's Ken Gushi and his Mustang. Coming off a win in Houston, Gushi looked ready to repeat as he moved on to the next round. Tanner Foust then went up against Signal's Okubo, with Foust sliding into round two. Chris Forsberg in the Drift Alliance S15 then went up against Mike Peters of Bubba Drift. After a series of odd runoffs by the El Camino, Forsberg moved on to round two. The first round didn't let up as Alex Pfeiffer in the RS*R S2000 met Rotora's S15. Alex P proved he was a force to be reckoned with, going into the great 8. Samuel Hubinette in the Dodge Viper took out McQuarrie in the Jasper Supra due to McQuarrie's spinout. Dai in the Nitto Tires S13 had to pack it up thanks to Calvin Wan's Team Falken G35.
The first round had a strong showing by Team Falken, but Rhys, Alex, Samuel, Tanner and Ken Gushi were still alive and well in competition. Alex Pfeiffer flung his way past Rhys Millen to make it into the top 4. JR then had an amazing battle with Hubinette, with JR aggressively passing Samuel, sealing the fate on the Viper's weekend. Ken Gushi then had a rematch with Tanner Foust, but Foust would prove triumphant this time around to move onto the top 4. Lastly, teammates Calvin Wan and Chris Forsberg went bumper to bumper with the G35 coming out on top. The top 4 would prove extremely exciting and worth every penny, as teammates Calvin Wan and JR Gittin went at it with flying Falken colors. Calvin would prove triumphant over JR, sending JR into a battle for 3rd place. Tanner would take the win over Pfeiffer, throwing Pfeiffer and JR back onto the course. With a sideways slide past the S2000, JR's Mustang grabbed a 3rd place podium finish for Team Falken. The final tandem battle saw Wan and Foust give everything they had. With several off-the-course drifts, Wan and Foust had to go out again! When the massive amounts of smoke cleared, Wan rocked the hometown crowd by taking the first place podium finish. Team Falken took first and third place while Tanner Foust brought McKinney another strong second place finish.
Check out Modified Magazine for more in-depth coverage of the entire event and we will see you at Chicago!