This weekend's event, or Round One, was won by Daijiro Yoshihara ( Nissan 240SX / Discount Tire), the series champion in 2011. He was joined on the podium by Vaughn Gittin ( Ford Mustang / Monster Energy) and Chris Forsberg ( Nissan 370Z / NOS Energy), earning second and third place, respectively. Last year's winner, Justin Pawlak ( Ford Mustang / Falken Tire) crashed heavily during his first qualifying run, and although his team managed to get the car back together for him to qualify on his second run, he was knocked out in the second round.
One noticeable absence in the field was series veteran Rhys Millen, who won the series driving a Hyundai Genesis Coupe in 2010. Hyundai pulled its motorsports programs in North America last year, leaving his team without a main sponsor. Nevertheless, Hyundai and Rhys Millen Racing will partner for Pikes Peak in a few months.
Round Two will be held at Road Atlanta over the weekend of May 10-11. Check out the Formula Drift schedule, as well as the press release below.
Round 1: Streets of Long Beach started off the tenth season of Formula DRIFT presented by GoPro to a sell out crowd. Fans were treated to a vendor village, Slammed Society car show, a display of vehicles from the Targa Trophy and a skateboard demo from the Action Sports Kids Foundation of Long Beach.
"To start our ten year anniversary season in front of a sell out crowd sets a great tone for the season to come," stated Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. "We owe it all to our drivers, sponsors and the fans for helping to make the Series what it is today. We look forward to another exciting season."
Experience became the deciding factor with all three spots on the podium being found by ten-year veterans who also are past champions of the Series. The 2009 Champion Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy Drink / Hankook Nissan 370Z was too much for Chelsea DeNofa and earned third place. The final battle pitted 2010 Formula DRIFT champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr in the Monster Energy / Falken Tire Ford Mustang against the 2011 champion Daijiro Yoshihara who also was the number one qualifier. On their first run Gittin made a small mistake at the hairpin giving Yoshihara the edge. A consistent second run by Yoshihara secured his victory giving him the first victory of the season.
"This was my first time to win in Long Beach. I've been on the podium a few times, but winning here was one of my goals and I was able to achieve that today, "said Daijiro Yoshihara, winner of Round 1: Streets of Long Beach. "I also qualified first so this was the best way to start off the season, but it is still a long way to another Championship. I hope to win another Championship this season." Formula DRIFT presented by GoPro continues at Round 2: Road to the Championship at Road Atlanta on May 10-11, 2013.
For more information visit: www.formuladrift.com.