Formula Drift 2013 Round 2: Road Atlanta


Road Atlanta has been a hotbed of controversy and carnage. With the weather, questionable calls, and broken cars you begin to wonder if this is really just the second round of the 2013 Formula Drift Pro Championship presented by GoPro. The first battle for the final four would be between the monster Achilles SC430 of Daigo Saito and the “monster truck” Monster Energy/Nitto Tire Mustang of Vaughn Gittin, Jr. Daigo would lead first and Vaughn Gittin would go off at 10b and just tap Daigo, but Daigo would keep going. By going off course, Vaughn would call for his Competition Time Out. With the disadvantage of going off course, Vaughn would have to hope for a mistake by Saito. He nearly did get it as Saito fell behind by several car lengths. In the end, Saito was judged to be the winner but judge Brian Eggart voted for a One More Time. He felt that Daigo fell too far behind and did not initiate a chase run. Vaughn had a similar call on him at Wall Speedway in 2011 against Jim Guthrie and it would fall out of Vaughn's favor once again.

Daigo Saito Road Atlanta
While he didn't really put up much of a chase, Daigo Saito was awarded the chance to win the event against Vaughn Gittin, Jr.. Vaughn would have to try and settle for Third. Photo by Dan Jenkins of Fueled Culture

With Saito moving on to the first place battle, Darren McNamara in the Falken Silvia would face the GSR M3 of Mike Essa. With the high angle entry of Mike Essa, Darren would need something to keep him in the advantage. Darren would use proximity as he would stay all over the GSR Bimmer! On D-Mac's lead run, McNamara would pull a gap against the GSR Autosport driver. Enough of a gap to put Darren into the finals against Daigo Saito!

Darren MacNamara Road Atlanta
Darren McNamara would have a chance at winning an event again. His last time was in 2009 at Wall Speedway in the Falken Tires/Sears Auto Centers Saturn Sky. Photo by Dan Jenkins of Fueled Culture

Third place would be determined by the battle between the Monster Energy/Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR of Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and the GSR Autosport/Yokohama Tire BMW E46 M3 of Mike Essa. Vaughn already has a podium in 2013 and would have the points lead even if he ended up off the podium. However, being on the podium would give him a larger lead. Mike Essa would lead first and would start to gap Vaughn up until the horseshoe. Vaughn would stop that gap from the horseshoe on and have the advantage. Essa would once again go off course and give the advantage to Vaughn Gittin, Jr. and give him Third place!

Vaughn Gitting Jr Road Atlanta
Vaughn Gittin, Jr., your Third Place winner at Road Atlanta!

Who would get First Place? It would have to be decided between Daigo Saito in the Achilles Radial Lexus SC430 and Darren McNamara in the Falken Tire Nissan Silvia. It was leading up to be a tremendous battle as it could have been the first win for Darren since Wall Speedway in 2009. It would be a comeback win for Daigo after failing to break out of the Top 16 at Round One. However, all of the hype would be short lived as Darren made impact with Daigo Saito coming out of 10b. Darren had come out of the tire smoke of the Achilles Radials thinking Daigo would be hard on the gas, but it turns out Daigo had slowed down compared to earlier in the day. The impact would break Darren's car and the 5 minutes of the Competition Time Out were up to give the win to Saito!

Daigo Saito Darren MacNamara Road Atlanta
He's not supposed to be there! Darren McNamara gets lost in the Achilles Radial tire smoke and hits Daigo Saito! Not enough time to make the repairs, Darren forfeits and Daigo Saito is your Round Two Winner! Darren will have to settle for Second Place. Photo by Dan Jenkins of Fueled Culture

With all of the carnage, a new points leader emerges as Vaughn Gittin, Jr. is ahead of Daigo Saito by just 11 points. Darren McNamara is only 16 points out of the lead! Daijiro Yoshihara is now in 5th place, 35 points back. We invade Florida for Round 3 at Palm Beach International Raceway! Will we have more of the same carnage? We'll see as 2013 continues on!

Road Atlanta Podium Vaughn Gittin Jr Darren MacNamara Daigo Saito

Your Podium for Road Atlanta! Third Place is Vaughn Gittin, Jr.. Second Place is Darren McNamara. You Winner, Daigo Saito! Photo by Dan Jenkins of Fueled Culture

Vaughn also gains the Points Lead by just 11 points over Daigo Saito.

1. Vaughn Gittin Jr. – 172 points

2. Daigo Saito – 161 points
3. Darren McNamara – 156 points
4. Michael Essa – 141 points
5. Daijiro Yoshihara – 137 points


Review Round One of Long Beach HERE!

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