As Formula D moved on to the second round at Road Atlanta, the heat turned up both literally and in terms of competition. With drivers still familiarizing themselves with new rides it was anybody's event to win in ATL. Although the veterans would come out on top there were plenty of surprises along the way.
Hankook debuted their highly-anticipated Nissan GT-R, which I am sure is soon to become a fan favorite, with Robbie Nishida at the helm. For a maiden outing in the car, many thought un-driftable, the R35 qualified in an astonishing 11th place. Back from a horrific crash in Long Beach, was Michael Essa in his new-for-2010 V10-powered BMW 350R, which he piloted to a career high 6th place in qualifying.
But as we all know, it's the tandem sessions that really separate the men from the boys. Right from the get-go it was evident that Dai Yoshihara was a man on a mission in his recently rehabilitated S13. The V8-powered Nissan is one of the best compromises of function and form in all of FD and Dai really put the car to the test, coming out on top in Georgia.
Second place would go to Dai's Falken Tire teammate, Vaughn Gittin Jr, and the points scored from Atlanta and Long Beach placed JR firmly atop the leader board, with Dai trailing by 37 points and Rhys Millen only 4 points behind Yoshihara. Last year's champion Chris Forsberg beat out Michael Essa to round out the podium in third position. Although he just missed the podium, we're sure Essa was happy to have his car performing flawlessly and set another career best with his fourth place finish.
As Formula D keeps progressing the cars keep getting burlier and the driver's skill levels are skyrocketing. FD has really established itself as the premier drift series in the world and this year's championship is going to be very interesting to watch. It's great to see Dai back into a car that is performing well and hopefully this victory will be a confidence booster needed to get the fan-favorite back in the running.