Six events down and the points chase came down to the final Formula D event at the House of Drift, Irwindale Speedway. The crowds gathered in Southern California as the vicious roars of V8s and V10s filled the air mingled with the ear piercing shrieks of blow off valves and turbocharged inline 4s. Samuel Hubinette lead the points chase coming into this final event, with Rhys Millen a close second, Tanner Foust in third and Team Falken’s Vaughn Gittin Jr. in fourth. We knew the tires would be smoking as America’s top drifters took it out on the track.
Before we get into the action, a couple surprise entrants showed up on the scene. Pierre Kleinubing, who is usually piloting a RealTime Acura TSX in the SPEED World Challenge, was seen behind the wheel of the infamous A’PEXi FD RX-7. On top of the unseeded qualifying list was Rich Rutherford, piloting a RWD converted EVOVIII. Top 16 qualifying was where it was at however, as the drivers maneuvered gracefully around Irwindale competing for a spot in tandem battle. On the top of the list was Tanner Foust piloting the AEM 350Z looking sharp as always. Running down the rest of the list were the usual supects: Sam Hubinette, Ken Gushi, Rhys Millen, Vaughn Gittin Jr., Daijiro Yoshihara, Kenji Yamanaka, Tyler McQuarrie, Yukinobu Okubo, Chris Forsberg, Kazu Hayashida, Casper Canul, Hiro Sumida, Rich Rutherford, Mitsuru Haraguchi and Ben Schwartz. Ken Gushi and his Mustang were on an absolute tear at this event and it was great seeing Schwartz behind the wheel of the Rockstar 240SX.
In the first round of tandem, Foust bested Schwartz, McQuarrie got the win against Okubo after a one more time. Millen continued his dominance on Irwindale by besting Sumida while Gittin dropped the XMP Mustang smoke bomb on Rutherford. Hubinette piloted himself towards the championship topping Haraguchi while Yamanaka took the win over Forsberg after a slight mistake. Gushi bested Canul and Yoshihara beat out Hayashida in the battle of the S-chassis.
In the Top 8, an aggressive battle between Foust and McQuarrie brought the crowd to their feet. Coming off the bank at an extremely aggressive angle, Foust hard charged into McQuarrie planting both of them into the wall. Foust would get the win however as McQuarrie made the mistake first and there was no way for Foust could get out of the way. The battle between Millen and Gittin had some drama as well, as Gittin blasted around the track. Gittin proved to the crowd how bad he wanted the win by driving his Mustang crazier than ever! So crazy that one of his Falken tires flew off the wheel! This wasn’t the first time it happened in the night though; Okubo and the Signal Skyline shared the same fate earlier on. Millen would get the win however even with a hard fought battle from Gittin. Hubinette’s V10 Viper was too much for Yamanaka’s S15 and Yoshihara completely tore up Irwindale against Gushi, who was driving flawless as well. Yoshihara would move on and the crowd started wondering if an import would take the win once again at Irwindale.
The Top 4 brought Foust back but it looked like the 350Z wasn’t in top shape against Millen. Coming off the bank, Foust straightened out the AEM 350Z and it was all Millen from there. Yoshihara then battled against Hubinette, who at this point had already sealed the championship. Yoshihara would move on however, and it was now the question of who would win at Irwindale. With Foust out of the question, Hubinette took the easy slide into third place but not without putting on a show for the crowd. Claiming the championship in the Team Mopar Viper Hubinette displayed all of his drifting antics giving the crowd what they came for. The final battle was extremely hard fought and both Millen and Yoshihara looked great as always. This night would end with an import on the top podium spot as Yoshihara took the win with his Rockstar S13!
Modified Magazine will be keeping an ear to the ground to see what develops in the off season, so keep an eye out for future issues as we get the scoop on upcoming teams and cars. We can’t wait for Formula D 2007! Congratulations to all the teams and drivers that came out to compete this season.
Here’s the final 10 for Formula D 2006:
Formula D Top 10:
1 S. Hubinette – 629
2 R. Millen – 601
3 T. Foust – 541
4 V. Gittin Jr – 462
5 D. Yoshihara – 441
6 C. Canul – 441
7 K. Gushi – 423
8 Y. Okubo – 415
9 K. Yamanaka – 384
10 H. Sumida – 321