Formula Drift Round Six – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The first battle, to see who would move on to the Finals for First Place and who would go into the Consolation Round for Third Place was Matt Powers in his Need for Speed Nissan S14 240SX and Darren McNamara in the Falken Tire Saturn Sky. This was still a great result for Matt, because if he won this round or had to settle for third, it would be his second professional podium for his career. The two cars battled it out, with Matt leading first, he was able to pull off a great angle into the Rear Zone, but Darren was able to close up in the Front Clipping Points. The advantage appeared to be in Powers’ favor, but Darren didn’t make it easy. Matt knew this and had to push on his follow run, while D-Mac was able to pull a gap, Powers reeled him in. However, Matt reeled him in too much and hit D-Mac, spinning both cars and resulting in the win for Darren McNamara. While Darren was guarnteed a podium, Powers now had to fight the loser of the next battle.

Matt Powers vs Darren McNamara
Being too aggressive cost Matt Powers the win against Darren McNamara

It was an uphill battle, as Odi Bakchis in his Forged Performance Nissan S14 240SX faced the fast, smooth, and agressive driving of Rhys Millen in his Red Bull Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Despite the lower power of the Hyundai V6 when compaired to the V8 power for Odi’s 240SX, Millen was able to pull a gap against Odi with ease and continued that gap through the course. While Odi was able to put together a great lead run against Millen, the gap and performance by Millen in the previous battle resulted in the win for Rhys Millen. This was the first podium of the year for Millen, his first podium in over a year and he was hungry for more!

Odi Bachkis vs Rhys Millen
Despite his best efforts, Odi could not overcome Rhys Millen and his Hyundai Genesis Coupe!

Before Rhys Millen could find out just how far he could take his Genesis coupe, Third Place had to be contested. That was a battle of the left foot braking style of Odi Bachkis in the V8 powered, Forged Motorsport Nissan S14 240SX. His opponent was none other than the V8 powered, Need for Speed Nissan S14 240SX of Matt Powers. Both drivers were having an excellent showing here at Las Vegas. On one result, Odi could have the Rookie of the Year wrapped up and just have to show up at Irwindale to take that title for 2011. The other result would be the second podium for the Need for Speed driver, Matt Powers, his second best result for his career.

Matt Powers
Matt Powers knew what he had to do to make the podium!

There was a lot on the line for both drivers here and the both of them showed it by going One More Time. Once both drivers refreshed their cars for the OMT, Matt led one more time against Odi, with a gap building in the Rear Clipping Zones, but Odi used his left foot skill to not only close the gap, but keep some of the same angles as Powers. However, it was still advantage Matt Powers and with Odi leading this time, Matt was able to hang with Bakchis and took the win! Matt Powers just won Third Place in Las Vegas. “I feel good, obviously I wanted to be in those top two spots,” stated Matt Powers on his Third Place finish, “…but I really wanted to get back on the Podium again this year so I feel good. I feel like I did a good job this weekend.” Costa Gialamas, Matt’s Engineer, had this to say, “This was a very trying event, we lost a couple of wheels, went through quite a bit of body work.” However, they were prepared right out of the gate, “Fortunately, we showed up with a really good setup, so we didn’t have to do much on setup side of things, but there was definitely lots of carnage… we definitely earned this one!” Matt’s crew this weekend consisted of Costa along with Tommy Roberts, Tommy Roberts, Jr., Nate Deck, and Cody Parkhouse, who all did an excellent job to get Matt on the podium for a second time this year.

Matt Powers vs. Odi Bachkis
Matt Powers gains Third Place at Round Six!

The contest for First Place was the second battle of the Tire Giants of Formula Drift, with Rhys Millen in his Hankook Tire shod, Red Bull Hyundai Genesis facing the quick Falken Tire Saturn Sky of Darren McNamara. Millen, hungry for the win, his first win in some time, took the lead first against Darren and McNamara was being aggressive. As Rhys entered the First Rear Zone, D-Mac had to slow down and nearly stalled out. While he was able to keep up with Rhys throughout the rest of the course, his over aggressive entry and the single car length gap Rhys was able to pull off towards the end gave Darren a disadvantage.

This time, it was Darren’s turn to lead, Rhys held off his aggression until the first Front Clipping Point and from there, Rhys poured on the pressure and was nearly side-by-side with D-Mac from the Second Front Clipping point on. With these two impressive runs and that veteran ability to hold off his aggregation until the moment he needed it, Rhy Millen took the win and First Place for Formula Drift Las Vegas! Darren McNamara would have to settle for Second Place this round.

Though it has been a while, Rhys Millen was looking for his first in in some time!

“Really good,” Rhys Millen began as we discussed his first win in some time, “to come here with Hyundai, three years ago we brought the car here for the first time and I actually spun on the last corner right before the finish line and failed to qualify. So, to come back here and make small changes to the car and consistently get better and better, you know three events ago in Florida, I was like, ‘wow, we’ve got this package right’ and I think we proved that here today!” Even more, “to get the overall win, I think Hyundai has made an even bigger impression on the industry today.” Rhys Millen’s crew for this weekend was Crew Chief Time Dunbar, along with Matt Clark, Carlos Revias, Lead Engineer and Team Manager Robert Benz, and Mitch Peterson tuning on the engine, “it’s a team effort and I just get the fun part of driving the car!”

The Round Six Podium
Rhys Millen gets First, Darren McNamara gets Second, and Matt Powers gains third!

With that, Daijiro Yoshihara still holds a large lead against Justin Pawlak, but with only 56 points between the top 5 drivers in points, it’s still anyone’s game!

See Y’all at Irwindale!

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