Tyler McQuarrie in the GoPro/Mobil 1 Camaro and Tony Angelo in the Scion Racing/Hoonigan/Hankook Tires Scion FR-S would be the next pair up and would get delayed after Saito tried to come back to staging and broke. However, the delay wasn’t enough to shake Tyler's concentration and he would enter the Top 16.
Odi Bakchis in the Feal Suspension/Nitto Tires Nissan 240SX and Ken Gushi in the Greddy/Hankook Tires Scion FR-S would be next. While Odi had a tire manufacturer change for 2014, Gushi had an engine change as he was now running a 2JZ-GTE with a Garrett Turbo. The new tires from Nitto really must have been a drastic change because Odi looks far more aggressive this year. That new aggression translated into a win against Gushi, but Gushi looks like he will have a fairly good 2014 thanks to more power. He’s now able to keep up with V8 cars since ditching the flat four.
Justin Pawlak showed off his Falken Tires Ford Mustang briefly before the season started and the guys who saw him said the car drives different. We got to see what that meant as he faced off against Jeff Jones in the CX Racing Nissan 240SX, who is now on Garrett Turbo power with his LS V8. Jones was looking solid but after a false start, Jeff’s car broke an axle as he drove back to staging. That would give JTP the win but don’t think that sells Pawlak short. This Mustang is a changed car and looks to match his style of driving better.
Ryan Tuerck and Alec Hohnadell would be the final pair in Top 32. Alec is another rookie in 2014 and his Enjuku Racing Nissan 240SX is another V8 Turbo making over 800 horsepower. However, Ryan was looking to overcome his drastic start to the 2014 season after a steering failure caused Odi to run into the back of him during Media Day with fairly substantial damage. It didn’t seem to faze the Retaks crew as they got his 2JZ-GTE Scion FR-S back straight. Hohnadell put up a good fight, but it wasn’t enough to get past Tuerck.
With only three hold ups and a one more time out of 32 drivers, Top 16 came up quickly! Again, the changes Formula Drift has made for 2014 seemed to be working to get the show done faster for better television coverage. The new, more powerful cars were also holding together far better than most were expecting. With high triple and quadruple power figures, the cars still seem to be reliable or far more reliable in some cases. The Top 16 is usually where we would see major delays with replays and judging calls but that wouldn’t be the case for Round 1.
Mats Baribeau in the Gold in the Net/Garrett Turbo Toyota Chaser would have to show the world why he was the 2013 rookie of the year facing Mike Essa, but then Essa showed why he was the 2013 champion by out driving Baribeau. Mats is looking good for 2014, so expect more out of him as the year progresses.
Forrest Wang and Dennis Mertzanis were next and Forrest continues to improve from last year. He’s found more speed and is still able to keep the style that wows everyone that watches him. That newfound speed and that progression of his style allowed Wang to beat Mertzanis.