Formula D Seattle seemed to mark the dawn of a new era. Formula D saw a new track, new fans, and a new #1 qualifier. It now seems that the two biggest new car surprises this season might not be making their introduction into serious drifting competition until next year. Rhys Millen was seen piloting his Red Bull sponsored GTO while Samuel Hubinette continued rocking his Viper SRT-8. But let’s face it, with the points competition getting down to the wire and being so close, it doesn’t surprise us that neither driver wants to switch into something new and risk the championship trophy!
As the Top 16 qualifying rounds came to an end in Seattle, the crowd was ecstatic over the top finish of Team Falken’s famed AE86 driver, Taka Aono. Leading the pack along with Aono was the Signal R34 Skyline driven by Yukinobu Okubo. The rest of the top 16 qualifiers were the usual suspects – Rhys Millen, Vaughn Gittin Jr., Tanner Foust, Casper Canul, Samuel Hubinette, Seigo Yamamoto, Chris Forsberg, Hiro Sumida, Ken Gushi, Kenji Yamanaka, Robbie Nishida, Todd Ho, Calvin Wan and Tony Angelo that was piloting Vaughn Gittin Jr.’s old S13 coupe.
With such a huge variety of drivers and cars, tandem fever was gripping the stands. Combine that with the fact that the Seattle Washington crowd has really yet to witness a professional drifting event of this size we knew we were in for a fantastic day of competition. In the first round of tandem battle, crowd favorite Aono would fall to Tony Angelo in the Drift Alliance demo car and not in his normal Tiger Racing 240SX. Yamamoto would battle fellow teammate Team Falken driver Chris Forsberg, who made a return in his 350Z convertible, and Yamamoto would get the win. Gittin would move on against Japanese-based driver, Robbie Nishida, Foust’s AEM 350Z would topple Yamanaka’s JIC Magic S15, and Okubo’s Skyline would move on against Team Falken’s Calvin Wan, who is still piloting his personal car. The three remaining round one finishers moving into the Top 8 have all seen podium this year – Rhys Millen, Samuel Hubinette and Casper Canul.
The Top 8 battles got extremely intense as the drivers seemed to be getting the Evergreen Speedway course down to a science. Yamamoto continued a strong dominance as he drifted past Angelo. Gittin’s Team Falken Mustang was on a tear as he toppled the dominant Foust in tandem competition. Okubo surprised the entire crowd by dropping the bomb in the Signal Skyline, battling it out with Hubinette and taking the win. Lastly, Millen got another match with Casper Canul moving onto the semi final round.
As the competition entered the semi final round, it almost seemed that it would be an all domestic final round with the Team Falken Mustang and Rhys Millen’s Red Bull sponsored GTO. The crowd was stunned when both Okubo and Yamamoto took their wins moving into an all import final round! The Nissan Skyline of Okubo and the Toyota Chaser of Yamamoto went on to the finals without the familiar faces of Hubinette and Millen!
The crowd would have a slight letdown however, as the third place all domestic battle couldn’t take place. The Team Falken Mustang driven by Gittin Jr., just couldn’t make the call to the line so Millen took the third place finish. The battle between Japanese coupe vs. sedan wasn’t short lived however as both Okubo and Yamamoto gave it their all. When the smoke cleared, Okubo got the win while Yamamoto had to settle for second place and his first podium finish. Congratulations to all the drivers and we can’t wait to see you guys compete at Wall, New Jersey!