The 2007 Formula D season so far has been unpredictable and highly entertaining, and the fourth stop in Seattle, WA would be no different. Last year, Seattle finished with an epic crash between Yokinobu Okubo in the Signal Auto R34 Skyline and Seigo Yamamoto’s VIP-styled Chaser. This year, Okubo wouldn’t make the trip as the team he has switched to didn’t have funding, and Yamamoto would be sitting this one out as he and his NTB RX-8 failed to make top 32. For the second year in a row, the podium would not see defending champion Sam Hubinette and 2005 champion Rhys Millen, and for the first time this year, Tanner Foust would be left out of the top 8. In the end, Daijiro Yoshihara’s Rockstar S15 was able to edge out Vaughn Gitten Jr.’s Falken Tires Mustang for the event win, with Kenji Yamanaka’s JIC Hankook S15 rounding out the podium.
Seattle is the first banked-track stop of the year and a favorite among many of the drivers for its high entry speeds. The track is a 5/8-mile oval, making it bigger than Irwindale’s half-mile oval, seeing 4th gear entries for most of the drivers. Several drivers were running out of revs in 4th gear, meaning 100+ mph wheel speeds and high 90 mph entry speeds. This led to the most contentious top 16 qualifying round to date, in which it would take 90.5 points to make the top 16 tandem runs, showing exactly how tight the competition is this year. The crowd was loving the action, with nearly 10,000 in attendance and every single one of them hooting, hollering, chanting, and banging cowbells through the entire day.
Top qualifier and points leader Tanner Foust would eliminate himself in the round of 8 against Dai Yoshihara with a crash in the middle of the bank after he had beat Hiro Sumida in the first round. Atlanta champ Chris Forsberg hit the wall in the top 4 against Drift Alliance comrade JR and couldn’t repair the Maxxis 350Z roadster in time for the consolation matchup against Yamanaka. Millen lost in the first round to Tyler McQuarrie after a spin while leading put him at a huge disadvantage. Sam Hubinette wouldn’t do much better, losing to JR after a one-more-time call. When leading, Hubinette actually collided with JR just in front of the second clipping point, and the judges ruled that Hubinette had slowed too much and caused JR to hit him. While Robbie Unser Jr. joined teammate Bill Sherman in the top 16 for the first time, Unser would lose in the first round to Yamanaka while Sherman narrowly lost in the second round to Forsberg after his wing tapped the wall in the top of the bank, yet he didn’t lose his drift. Saving the best for last, it looked as though Yoshihara and JR’s battle would go one more time when both drivers laid near-perfect runs both leading and following, but it was determined that Dai’s faster, smokier drifts were enough to award him his second event win of his career and the first of the 2007 season.
Seattle is proving to be an epic battleground for Formula D, and as the season enters the backstretch, the points chase is getting even tighter. Formula D hops a few hundred miles south for the next stop in Sonoma, CA in August. Be sure to check out full coverage of Formula D Seattle in a future issue of Modified Magazine.