Formula Drift 2014 Round 1 – Long Beach
It was nice to see the changes in the rules and procedures did not bog down the event. From qualifying to competition, everything was going according to plan for the most part. There were a few bumps that kind of did put a small hamper on their schedule but in the end Round 1 concluded with plenty of time remaining and an amazing finish despite no longer having third place battle it out to see who would end up on the last step of the podium.
The first casualty of the event was Patrick Mordaunt after his engine failed during Top 32 practice on Saturday. This is a shame as the new ARK Performance cars were looking good for both Pat and Dennis Mertzanis. This meant that Mats Baribeau would get a bye run to the Top 16.
The first run was between 2013 Formula Drift Champion, Mike Essa and his Essa Autosport/Yokohama Tires/Bilstein BMW M3, and Formula Drift Rookie Jeremy Richter who had bumped out Charles Ng in Qualifying. Richter would make it easy for Mike as he would fail to continue drifting after the Firestone Bridge. It would end up being a car failure for Richter and Essa would move on to the Top 16.
Chelsea DeNofa in the BC Racing/Nitto Tire BMW 325 and Dennis Mertzanis in the ARK/Kenda Tires Hyundai Genesis Coupe would battle next and Chelsea would end up breaking before taking his follow run against Dennis when he snapped an axle. Dennis didn’t escape unscathed either, as he did make contact with the wall and had damage to his rear wing and lost his front bumper.
Forrest Wang in the Get Nuts Labs/Hankook Tires Nissan 240SX and Carl Rydquist in the Road Race Engineering/Reach Out World Wide/Hankook Tires Nissan 350Z were up and Carl was looking spectacular all weekend in the upgraded 350Z. However, he would lose drift following Wang into turn 10 a/b and despite a great lead run, it wasn’t enough to overcome the earlier loss of drift.
Kenny Moen in the Achilles Radial Nissan 240SX and rookie Geoff Stoneback in the SIKKY/Achilles Radial Nissan 240SX would go up and while Geoff showed why he’ll be in contention for Rookie of the Year in 2014, Kenny Moen continued his quest to show what he’s really capable of with a good car and better funding. He would move on against Geoff.
Kyle Mohan and the Mazdatrix/GT Radial Mazda RX8 was looking really good and helping GT Radial build their name in Formula Drift, but during his follow run against Robbie Nishida in the Achilles Radial Toyota Soarer he would contact the tire barrier in turn 10 hard. However, in his lead run against Robbie, Kyle was able to win the Judge's minds and that would allow him to move on since Robbie spun on his own during his lead run where Kyle crashed. Many were worried that Kyle would be unable to continue but the Mazdatrix crew were able to put the car together for Top 16.