Formula D in Long Beach, CA is always an exciting round. The point scoreboard is wiped clean and it's the event where teams can debut their newest setups. Michael Essa fans were pleased to see him returning to his roots and back into an E46. In '13 we saw him dominate Formula D in his E46 BMW M3, but in '15 he had the opportunity to work with Street Legal Performance and campaign a 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS. Results however weren't as nearly as good as it was when he was behind the wheel of a BMW, finishing 27th overall for the '15 season.
Although Essa is back in his BMW E46, his livery shows his title sponsor as Loud Mouth Exhaust as well as a rubber change from Yokohama and into Archilles. After qualifying day was over we had the opportunity to sit down with Essa for a quick interview.
SS: Michael, you're back in a BMW, can you tell us about the build?
ME: Yeah, we've got an E46 M3 chassis with turbocharged BMW S54 motor. It's a Borg Warner EFR 9174, DOC Race manifold. We're still running Ignite race fuel. We're using a lot of the same things we used in the old Wisefab, Wilwood brakes, except now we're using KW Motorsports suspension.
SS: Can you tell us about the car switching from the BMW to the Camaro and back?
ME: I never really wanted to get out of a BMW it was just a sponsorship opportunity for the Camaro. I didn't have a sponsor to run the BMW. BMW has no interest in drifting as a professional sport goes. It was kind of a bummer, but it's obviously a good drift car.
SS: How has the weather affected your car and the overall round?
ME: The rain itself isn't a big deal for us; we know how to drive around it. It's really this track that's the problem. There are spots that are normal wet and somewhat have grip. Then there are spots that have paint on the ground or rubber, or oil and it just feels like ice. So you're going through a corner with steady speed and all of a sudden you hit this patch and your car will want to shoot forward and spinout. That's why so many people are crashing.
SS: So what are your expectations this year?
ME: Well I hope to be back in the top five at the end of the championship, get back on the podium, and hopefully back in my old form.