Formula D 2011: Round 1 – Long Beach
By Jeff Naeyaert
The 2011 Formula D season got off to an exciting start this weekend at Long Beach and had no shortage of surprises! Let’s see, since last season we’ve seen Tanner Foust take an indefinite break from the sport only to be replaced by Fredric Aasbo in an all new Scion TC. We’ve seen a bunch of rule changes that have kept our Mike Kojima away from the office and frantically working on Dai’s car the last couple weeks to get into compliance. John Russakoff (who you may remember did so well at Gymkhana in his AE86) signed with Megan Racing and now has his AE86 painted that lovely pink and orange.. Pat Mordaunt finished (kinda) his new 350Z, Matt Powers lost his religion and went V8, and we saw all the guys that ran convertibles last season go hardtop–Chris Forsberg getting into a new 370Z while Darren McNamara and Tyler McQuarrie just added hardtops to their Saturn Sky and 350Z respectively.
Friday qualifying had its share of surprises with some new names appearing in the top 10. John Russakoff qualified 9th and Walker Wilkerson an impressive 7th in his periwinkle S13. Matt Powers qualified a personal best 4th place, Kyle Mohan 3rd, Dai Yoshihara second and Conrad Grunewald in the top spot. The most notable of omissions however was last year’s champion and Long Beach winner Vaughn Gittin Jr. who was unable to qualify on Friday–he’s probably just practicing good showmanship and giving the rest of the field a head start!
Get to know your top qualifiers!
|#1 Conrad Grunewald. Conrad was on fire and his Camaro seemed to work better than ever before. We figure he must have been hard at work in the off season. We do know he is naturally aspirated with what we think is an LS7 based motor vs his supercharged LS8 from last year. Going NA probably took about 100 lbs off of the nose of his car and improved balance.
|#2 Dai Yoshihara. Likewise Dai’s driving during qualifying was brilliant and only his bumping the rev limiter, giving just a slight hint of unsmoothness cost him the #1 slot by 0.1 point. Dai also had the highest entry speed.
|#3 Kyle Mohan. Kyle drove his heart out all weekend with a consistency like we have never seen from him before.
|#4 Matt Powers. Matt surprised everyone with his radical improvements all weekend long. Look for him to be a major contender in the 2011 season.
|#5 Rhys Millen. A favorite veteran in his rumored last season of Formula D put on a strong showing all weekend long.
|#6 Darren McNamara and #27 qualifier Mike Feiock in his 2nd gen RX-7 DMac is always one of our favorites and his ASD prepared Saturn Sky is known as the most powerful car in Formula D.
|#7 Walker Wilkerson. It is great to see the top qualifying positions filled with new blood and we hope this trend continues as the season progresses.
|#8 Tyler McQuarrie and #24 qualifier Fredric Aasbo. Tyler was very fast in his new ASD built Falken 350Z.
|#9 John Russakoff. Dark horse John Russakoff is one of MotoIQ’s favorites. John has been long on talent and short on sponsorship. Megan racing is going to allow him to do a full FD season in 2011.
|#10 Ryan Tuerck. Ryan is always a top contender in his Gardella Racing Pontiac Solstice. Ryan will bring a new Camaro to Atlanta and Eric O’Sullivan will take over driving duties in the Solstice.