Round 3: Invasion Results; Michael Essa Takes the Victory

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Long Beach, Calif. – June 1, 2013 – Formula DRIFT presented by GoPro returned to Palm Beach International Raceway for Round 3: Invasion. Michael Essa in the GSR Autosport / Yokohama Tire BMW M3 takes the victory and moves into third place overall in the standings.

Round 3: Invasion returned for the third consecutive season to South Florida to a capacity crowd. The fans were treated to exciting on-track action intermingled with the Slammed Society car show and display of cars from the Targa Trophy.

“South Florida continues to prove to be a viable market with another capacity crowd,” stated Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “The spirit of competition also continues to rise and is at the highest level it has ever been, which has made an amazing season thus far.”

The skies cleared up for the main event day and the crowds flocked to the venue. The technical track featured a fast entry that proved to be a challenge for some of the drivers with many favorites failing to enter the later rounds of competition. The consolation round pitted Robbie Nishida in the Bridges Racing / Achilles Lexus SC300 against Vaughn Gittin in the Monster Energy / Nitto Tire Ford Mustang. After failing to reach the line after a Competition Timeout following mechanical problems from the previous round, Gittin conceded to give Nishida the win and third place. The final battle pitted Michael Essa in the GSR Autosport / Yokohama Tire BMW M3 against returning champion Daigo Saito in the Bridges Racing / Achilles Tire Lexus SC430, who also won this event last season. The battle was fierce, but Essa took the victory after Saito had a slight error in his chase run. This is Essa’s first Formula DRIFT pro championship podium and victory, which moves him into third place overall in the standings. Saito in the process moves into first place overall with Gittin closely behind him in second place.

“It’s surreal. We started this week with some issues and didn’t qualify well,” said Michael Essa, winner of Round 3: Invasion. “The team put together a solid car and thanks to Yokohama Tire, Bilstein, Garret and the rest of the sponsors we were able to win. We need to keep the momentum going and I can’t wait for the next round.”

For more information visit: www.formuladrift.com

Formula DRIFT Professional Championship Presented by GoPro 2013 Standings After Three Rounds
1. Saito, Daigo Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 257 Points
2. Gittin Jr., Vaughn Monster Energy / Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR 244 Points
3. Essa, Michael GSR Autosport / Yokohama BMW M3 241.50 Points
4. Forsberg, Chris NOS Energy Drink / Hankook Nissan 370Z 202 Points
5. Aasbo, Fredric Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC 197.50 Points
6. Yoshihara, Daijiro Discount Tire / Falken Tire Nissan S13 195 Points
7. Moen, Kenneth Lutz Performance / Nexen Tire Nissan 240SX 184 Points
8. Pawlak, Justin Falken Tire Ford Mustang 182.50 Points
9. McNamara, Darren Falken Tire Nissan S14 180.50 Points
10. Bakchis, Aurimas Nexen Tire Nissan S14 166.50 Points
11. Tuerck, Ryan Team Retaks / Maxxis Scion Racing FR-S 150.50 Points
12. Field, Matt CX Racing / Blacktrax Nissan 240SX 144.50 Points
13. Wang, Forrest Get Nuts Labs Nissan 240SX 136.50 Points
14. DeNofa, Chelsea BC Racing BMW 3 Series 130 Points
15. Nishida, Robbie Bridges Racing / Achilles Tire Lexus SC300 127.50 Points
16. Powers, Matt Nitto Tire / Fatlace Nissan S14 119 Points

Round 3: Invasion Event Results
1. Essa, Michael GSR Autosport / Yokohama BMW M3 Winner
2. Saito, Daigo Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 Second Place
3. Nishida, Robbie Bridges Racing / Achilles Tire Lexus SC300 Third Place

Manufacturers Championship Standings After Three Rounds
1. Ford 426.50 Points
2. Lexus 414.25 Points
3. Nissan 386 Points
4. Scion 379 Points
5. BMW 371.50 Points

Tire Championship Standings After Three Rounds
1. Falken 461 Points
2. Achilles 417.50 Points
3. Nitto 408 Points
4. Hankook 399.50 Points
5. Yokohama 320.50 Points

Daigo Saito is Victorious at Round 7: Title Fight and is Crowned the 2012 Formula DRIFT Champion

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Long Beach, Calif. – October 13, 2012 – Formula DRIFT returned to Irwindale Speedway for the 2012 season finale. Daigo Saito in the Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 takes the event victory and wins the 2012 Formula DRIFT Championship.

Round 7: Title Fight at Irwindale Speedway showcased drifting in its finest form. For the first time in Formula DRIFT and Irwindale Speedway history the event sold out before the gates opened to the public.

“Last year was so amazing we didn’t think we could do it again, not like this“ said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “This is why we love drifting. We are so energized for season 10 starting April 12-13, 2013.”

The competition was intense as the championship was up for grabs. Entering the event, seven drivers had a chance for the title. This soon changed as top drivers in the chase were taken out early including points leader Vaughn Gittin, Jr. in the Monster Energy / Falken Ford Mustang, defending champion Daijiro Yoshihara, in the America’s Tire / Falken Tire Nissan 240 and the 2009 champion, Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy / Hankook Nissan 370Z. This opened the door for both Daigo Saito and Rhys Millen in the RMR / Hankook Hyundai Genesis Coupe who met in the Final Four. Millen, the number one qualifier took himself out as he went hard into the wall giving the win to Saito. The wall took a number of victims through the competition including Justin Pawlak in the Falken Tire Ford Mustang when he battled Saito in the Finals, giving Saito the event victory. Saito in his rookie year in the Series becomes the first Series rookie to also be crowned Formula DRIFT champion. Saito a seasoned veteran drifter is arguably considered the best drifter in the world winning the Formula DRIFT Asia championship, D1 championship and now Formula DRIFT Pro Championship.

“Luck was with me tonight. I’m very happy to be able to compete in Formula DRIFT this year. I’ve wanted to compete in the Series for so long,” said Daigo Saito, winner of Round 7: Title Fight and 2012 Formula DRIFT champion. “Thank you to Formula DRIFT and Achilles Tires. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of everyone that helped me get to this point.”

Formula DRIFT enters its tenth season of competition in 2013. Tickets are on-sale currently and can be purchased through the Formula DRIFT website and Ticketmaster. Round 1: Streets of Long Beach will be held on April 12-13, 2013.

Daigo Saito is Victorious at Round 3: Invasion at Palm Beach International Raceway

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Daigo Saito is Victorious at Round 3: Invasion at Palm Beach International Raceway;
Pawlak Remains in the Pro Championship Points Lead

Long Beach, Calif. – June 2, 2012 – Formula DRIFT returned to Round 3: Invasion at Palm Beach International Raceway for the second consecutive year. Rookie Daigo Saito in the Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 takes the victory and closes in on the points leader Justin Pawlak in the Falken Tire Ford Mustang.

Round 3: Invasion saw an increase in attendance in the second year of competition at Palm Beach International Raceway. The Driftstream saw over 200,000 viewers in a 24 hour period.

“We’re happy to be able to run the original track configuration due to the improvements by Palm Beach International Raceway which made for an improved event for the fans,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “Additional grandstands were brought in to accommodate for the increase in fan attendance. The dedication and investment by the venue shows their support for our Series and look forward to returning next season.”

Points leader and winner of last year’s Palm Beach event, Justin Pawlak and the 2011 Formula DRIFT Champion, Daijiro Yoshihara in the Discount Tire / Falken Tire Nissan 240SX faced off in a battle for third place. Yoshihara took the win after Pawlak spun out on his chase run and moves into third place overall. The final match of evening pitted Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy / Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z against Formula DRIFT rookie Daigo Saito. After a close battle Saito was crowned the winner and has now found the podium for the third consecutive event and increases his chances to win the coveted rookie of the year honors.

“This is the first time being in Formula DRIFT and I was able to take the victory and am extremely happy about that,” said Daigo Saito, winner of Round 3: Invasion. “I want to thank everyone and my sponsor Achilles Tire. All my runs weren’t perfect, but I am happy with the final outcome.”

The Formula DRIFT Pro Championship continues with Round 4: The Gauntlet on June 22-23, 2012 at Wall Speedway.

Daigo ‘The Ninja’ Saito Defends Title at Achilles Formula DRIFT Malaysia 2012

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Daigo ‘The Ninja’ Saito defends title at Achilles Formula Drift Malaysia 2012, presented by Canon
Massive crowds braved rain to cheer on local hero Tengku Djan Ley, ‘The Prince of Drift,’ to third place

20 May 2012 (KUALA LUMPUR): Daigo ‘The Ninja’ Saito of Achilles Drift Team triumphantly beat drift legend Manabu ‘Max’ Orido for the second consecutive year to be crowned champion of Achilles Formula Drift Malaysia 2012, presented by Canon, while Malaysia’ Tengku Djan Ley of M7Bridgestone rounded up the podium in his comeback race in third place.

The day belonged to Daigo with his flawless and gutsy display of precision drifting at Speed City KL, kicking off the first leg of the series on a winning note. The all-Japanese finale was a rematch from last year that saw Daigo demonstrate his aggressive style. In the first run, Daigo blasted off to an insurmountable lead that forced Orido to play catch up. In the reverse run, Daigo repeatedly put pressure on his compatriot, chasing him and sliding close with only inches to spare – keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats with plenty of slick drifting.

Said Daigo: “I’m really excited about today’s victory and returning back to Malaysia as champion. I was competing with a brand new car and had concerns on how it will perform. I knew that my biggest challenge was against the local favourite in the semi-finals and I had to be aggressive, so I gave 120 per cent going against Djan.”

The race also saw the return of Djan after a one-year hiatus. He clinched his 3rd-place finish by knocking out Emmanuel ‘Dio’ Armandio of Indonesia, after losing to eventual champion Daigo in the semi-final where the 8000-strong crowd made themselves heard in the highly anticipated encounter.

Said Djan: “It feels really good to come back to the drift scene. Daigo was really fast – faster than I thought when I watched him on TV in last year’s event. We now have to go back to the drawing board to see how we can improve to make up the difference.”

This year’s event saw the drivers contend against the weather, in addition to each other in the tandem battles, with the rain adding an element of unpredictability that proved to be too much for some. It saw local ace Ser Ming Hui, aka ‘Ah Fai’, from Achilles Drift Team Malaysia crashing out in the round of 16 against Indonesia’s Dika CH, despite entering today’s competition as the second seed.

Djan, who led the Malaysian contingent by qualifying to the round of 32 with the highest score of 94 out of 100 in the first rounds, showed a clear indication of the quality of Malaysian drivers. Seven Malaysians made it to the round of 16, with the likes of Ivan Lau of Achilles Drift Team and Ee Yoong Chern of GT Radial joining Tengku Djan in the quarterfinals.

Today’s race marks the beginning of the Achilles Formula Drift Asia Series 2012. The next leg will be at Singapore on 30th June – 1st July 2012.

Justin Pawlak Takes the Victory at Round 2: Road to the Championship

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Justin Pawlak Takes the Victory at Round 2: Road to the Championship;
Pawlak Remains on Top of the Standings and Becomes the Tires.com Triple Crown Leader

Long Beach, Calif. – May 12, 2012 – Formula DRIFT returned to Road Atlanta for Round 2: Road to the Championship. Justin Pawlak takes the victory in the Falken Tire Mustang increasing his point lead in the Pro Championship Points Standings.

Round 2: Road to the Championship brought the Formula DRIFT Pro Championship back to the Series birthplace nine years ago. Fans came in droves seeing an increase in attendance at Road Atlanta. This marks another consecutive season of growth.

“It’s very satisfying that Road Atlanta and Formula DRIFT have formed a partnership nine years ago to help grow drifting in this region,” said Jim Liaw, president and co-founder of Formula DRIFT. “We look forward to our ten year anniversary at this venue next season.”

Justin Pawlak takes his second consecutive victory to increase his points lead. Additionally, Pawlak is now the points leader in the Tires.com Triple Crown bonus prize. Pawlak faced Fredric Aasbo in the Need for Speed / Hankook Scion TC and edged out the 2010 Rookie of the Year to take the victory. Walker Wilkerson in the Falken / Fatlace / Garage Autohero Nissan 240SX battled Formula DRIFT rookie, Daigo Saito in the Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 in the consolation round. After a one more time battle Saito beat out Wilkerson to take his second third place finish of the season.

“The boys at ASD and Falken gave me what I need to help me get to that number 1 spot,” said Justin Pawlak, winner of Round 2: Road to the Championship. “Next round is West Palm Beach and with a great car and great team we were able to take the win there last year and plan to remain focused and keep this momentum going.”

The Formula DRIFT Pro Championship continues with Round 3: Invasion at West Palm Beach International Raceway on June 1-2, 2012.