Raz’s turn to lead was something else entirely, I heavily recommend checking out a video of this battle once you’re done reading this. Even just after initiation, Muss trailed no more than a length away from Raz for the entirety of the course, causing a great uproar from the crowd as they watched Muss let off, power on, let off, power on, again and again to inch just that much closer to the white Evolution.
The aggressiveness came at a cost, however. Coming around the final bend, Muss pushed Naor just that little bit too far, forcing contact between his turned wheel and the wall. The Evo came across the finish line on three wheels, his right front bouncing away. Due to the accident being caused by Muss, Naor was declared the winner, yet couldn’t continue due to the damage; eliminating both drivers in the bracket with just two rounds of driving.
Next up was #2 Qualifier Dan Stuke against #15 Qualifier RJ Contreras. Stuke led first, his black S13 immediately breaking away from Contreras upon initiation into the first bank. Stuke gained 4 to 5 lengths on the Big Duck Club E36 right off the bat and kept the distance all the way to the finish line, all while holding better angle.
On RJ’s lead run, Stuke ensured the E36 wouldn’t escape; metaphorically barking at his metaphorical door throughout the infield after a brief 1 to 2 length gap on the first bank. Stuke took the win, and RJ was eliminated.
Following Stuke and Contreras was #7 Qualifier Mark Sanchez against #10 Qualifier George Kilada. I was personally excited for this; both run S13 240sx’s, however their cars couldn’t be more different. Kilada runs a S13 hatch with a LS and a dark color scheme, while Sanchez runs a S13 coupe (with a S14 Kouki front end) powered by a 4G63 (You read that correctly) and a bright color scheme.
Sanchez led on the first run, his MSR Motorsports S13 coupe breaking away from Kilada on initiation, the gap going as wide as 5 to 6 lengths on the first bank. Both cars fell into a sort of rhythm only exaggerated by their differences; Mark’s car would pull away coming out of corners, only to be caught right up by Kilada diving in with the extra torque his LS offers.
The Irwindale luck sensed too many things running smoothly once more and set its curse upon Mark’s S13. Pulling off the line, something was audibly wrong with Mark’s car, his 4G63 breaking up and popping as he desperately chased Kilada down the first stretch. Lacking the power to initiate, the red S13 was forced to simply follow the black S13 on the first bank with no sliding until the transition to the infield. The tighter corners of the infield offered some hope to the wounded S13; Sanchez able to kick the rear end out and hold some sort of slide, yet it was nothing against Kilada’s fully functioning car. The nail in the coffin was the final bank; Sanchez held decent distance at no more than a length and a half, yet held it at a cost of angle, speed, and the line. Struck by the Irwindale luck, Sanchez was eliminated; Kilada moving on.
After Sanchez’s rotten luck, #3 Qualifier Micah Diaz took on #14 Qualifier Chris Jones. Diaz led first, his higher power allowing him to put lengths on Jones through the first bank, and even the transitions leading up to the center hairpin, all while holding better angle and more speed. However, once on the tighter end of the track, Jones caught up, sticking his nose into Micah’s door through the latter half of the hairpin and the final corner.
Jones’s lead run against Diaz started off normal, Jones even making some distance on the white E46 until he locked up on initiation, the car cutting across off the mark and dropping all four tires out of bounds, resulting in a zero, and a win for Diaz.
Afterwards, #11 Qualifier Pablo Cabrera made a bye run against #12 Qualifier Raz Naor; who as mentioned earlier suffered critical damage to his right front corner and was forced to retire.
Following up to the bye run, #1 Qualifier Rome Charpentier lined up against #9 Carlos C. Estrella. By this point, I had noticed a trend; the higher power cars would gain distance in the first half, while the lower powered cars would pull away in the latter half of the course. So, it made sense to see Rome Charpentier pull a massive distance on the bank, the gap only exaggerated by Estrella missing the line as he came off the first bank and went wide around the first clipping point.
Estrella’s turn in the lead was less a round, and more of a run. Despite the 1UZ AE86 giving everything it could, the highlighter green Imagine Garage E36 was right behind him the entire time, even pulling more angle whilst slowing down to avoid contact on the rear through the last clipping point. Due to the proximity and speed, Rome took the win.