With that, the Top 16 looked something like this:
1. Micah Diaz – 77 Points
2. Josh Mason – 58 Points
3. Rome Charpentier – 54 Points
4. Jon Shaffer – 50 Points
5. Daryl Priyono – 44 Points
6. Carlos Cano Estrella – 42 Points
7. Aaron Valezquez – 40 Points
8. Tony Cisneros – 39 Points
9. Keoni Rodrigues – 33 Points
10. Amir Falahi – 31 Points
11. D. Sandoval – 20 Points
With only 11 qualifiers, the first bracket would include 5 bye runs.
Right off the bat, the Irwindale Luck struck again, and on one of it’s favorite targets: Micah Diaz.
Leaving the starting box for his bye run, his car lurched, the left rear axle dumping several bearings onto the ground.
However, he was able to calmly drive through, leaving me with the impression that it was inconsequential.
Next up, Tony Cisneros lined his black S14 against Keoni’s black S13. Cisneros lead first, his big V8 torque allowing him to break away from the Hawaii native’s 2JZ powered S13 on the first bank. The distance of roughly two and a half lengths remained constant throughout the course, up until Keoni spun out coming out of the second bank.
Keoni’s turn to lead came to bear, the S13 breaking away not unlike Cisnero’s lead run. Curiously enough, the black S13 made better distance throughout, until the final bank, which saw Tony diving in on an inside line creating excellent proximity.
Following three Bye Runs by Jon Shaffer, Daryl Priyono, and Josh Mason respectively, Amir Falahi lined his Machine Tech E30 BMW next to Aaron Velasquez’s Andy’s Tires S14.
Aaron led first. Both cars peeling out of the starting box, the S14 failed to break away from the E30, the BMW maintaining good proximity throughout the course. As both cars exited the final bank and prepared for the final turn, the E30 pushed too far outside around the last apex, going right into a deep puddle and straightening out.
With Falahi being first off the line, he broke away, doing what Aaron could not in the first run. The E30 gained a lead of roughly three car lengths going across the first bank, and kept it throughout, overextending the chase to the point where Aaron straightened out in the final bank, and simply cruised the rest of the course.
Following another bye run, this one by Rome Charpentier, Carlos Cano Estrella saw himself in his Drift Central AE86, next to Sandoval’s S13 hatch.
Carlos led first, his 1UZ AE86 immediately breaking away on the first bank to the tune of nearly six whole lengths, the gap only widening once Sandoval spun out on the second bank.
As Sandoval took to the lead run, Estrella seemingly hung back, the blue S13 carrying a four length gap throughout the course, starting at the initiation. The hopes for an advantage or one more time were dashed, however, as the blue S13 over-rotated in the exit to the final bank once again, giving Estrella the win.
Next up saw Tony Cisneros take the spot next to Micah Diaz in the starting box. It hadn’t occurred to me at the time, but the Hold Fast E46 didn’t spin a single wheel in the burnout box beforehand.
As such, the pull out from the starting box was not one of banging gears and slapped limiters, but of Micah’s car limping across the first bank, making no attempt at a slide. To put it short, the bearings it had left earlier were critical; the E46 now just one-wheel-drive.
However, this car was still being driven by one Micah Diaz. Near the touch and go directly infront of the stands, Micah’s car came to a complete stop before dumping the clutch, beginning one of the famed Diaz burnouts.
Cisneros took the win after a bye run, moving onwards in the bracket.
Following Diaz taking his loss in style, the starting box saw Jon Shaffer in his Spacious Garage S14 next to Daryl Priyono and his Imagine Garage E36.
Shaffer was first to take the lead, the blue S14 both pulling away in the ‘drag race’ leading up to the first initiation, then breaking away even more as Daryl initiated late. Four whole car lengths seperated the two by the touch and go, a distance that only grew as Daryl’s car just couldn’t find grip exiting the second bank, forcing a ‘crab-walk’ towards the last bend, widening the gap to six lengths.
Daryl took the lead next. Initiating late not unlike the first run, the Imagine Garage E36 failed to break away, the proximity remaining so close infact, a bad line into the second bend forced Shaffer off the marked track. Though the weather had cleared, the track was still slick, easily evidenced by Daryl then spinning out upon exiting the second bank.
Shaffer takes the win.
After that, Josh Mason’s XXR Mustang found itself next to Amir Falahi’s Machine Tech E30.
The Mustang took the lead first, the turbo LS under the hood walloping it’s cry off the walls as it dove into the first bank. To Mason’s surprise I imagine, the Machine Tech E30 only fell back a length after the initiation despite the fast entries, a proximity that was maintained until they exited the second inner bank, nearly side-swiping each other on exit.