Robbie Nishida in the Achilles Radial Toyota Soarer would be up against the Irish Monster of Darren McNamara in the now twin-turbo V8 Nissan Silvia. While Darren had a great looking lead run, the gap created in his follow run against Nishida would put the 1100 horsepower Silvia back on the trailer. Many were hoping that this would be the track where horsepower would shine but this wouldn’t be the case in every battle as seen here with Darren.
Ken Gushi in the GReddy FR-S and Dean Kearney in the Achilles Radial/Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper had an interesting battle. Dean, fresh off his win at the Pro Drift Irish Championship, was battling back from car issues on Thursday. Kearney was well on his way to advancing after a great follow run. On Dean's lead run, Gushi would stall at the start twice. Not sure what was going on, however at the end of that lead run, Dean shut down a little early and nearly caused Gushi to not only crash into him but the wall to the driver’s right. In the end, it would be Gushi moving on to the Great 8.
It was, quite possibly, the best round of drifting in Formula Drift since Irwindale last year. It was Vaughn Gittin, Jr and his Nitto Tires/Monster Energy Ford Mustang against Justin Pawlak and his Falken Tires/Roush Racing Ford Mustang. This is a rivalry that has been brewing since Texas last year, possibly even a little before then. You haven’t heard much about it, but it was put on display here at Road Atlanta. These guys drifted each other harder and tighter than I have ever seen when they've faced each other in the past.
In the first battle, Vaughn came in with a very aggressive entry into Turn 10A that took him four wheels off. He then slid back into line in front of Pawlak, causing Pawlak to go wheels off going up to the Keyhole. Then Justin straightened out on his lead run resulting in a One More Time after both drivers got zero score runs. It was now very clear that the track was wet.
In the first One More Time, Justin Pawlak pulled off a great follow run, displaying great car control in the Keyhole to keep himself from hitting Vaughn. Then Vaughn’s follow run was just as impressive, with only a small error to close up the gap leading up to the Keyhole. Another One More Time was needed!
This time, Justin Pawlak would put the nail into his own coffin after making contact with Vaughn during his follow run. To add self-insult to self-injury, Justin would spin out at the top of the Keyhole and give the round to Vaughn Gittin, Jr. Despite this, it was a very exciting run and looks to be the rivalry of Formula Drift for 2014.