Formula Drift Rd. 3 "The Gauntlet" at Wall Stadium in New Jersey was déjà vu for Falken Tire teammates Daijiro Yoshihara and Vaughn Gittin Jr. when they took 1st and 2nd place, respectively, for the second time in a row this season. After three rounds of Formula D, Vaughn and the Monster Energy/Falken Tire 2011 Ford Mustang sit in 1st place overall in the Championship standings with 291 points, and Dai and the Falken Tire/Discount Tire 2008 Lexus IS350 is trailing close behind in 2nd place with 270 overall points.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Daijiro Yoshihara take podium at Formula D Round 3. Photo by Larry Chen of Driftfotos.com
Vaughn Gittin Jr. and the Monster Energy/Falken Tire 2011 Ford Mustang. Photo by Larry Chen of Driftfotos.com
During Friday's qualifying session, where drivers fought for a spot in the top 32, Dai qualified in 4th place and Vaughn landed one spot behind him in fifth. During Saturday's main event, these two top-notch drivers would find themselves each battling through four of drifting's finest before meeting each other in the finals.
Vaughn fought his way through Robbie Nishida in the top 32, then Falken Tire teammate Tyler McQuarrie in the top sixteen. He found himself matched with Drift Alliance brother Justin Pawlak, driver of the 2010 Falken Tire Ford Mustang, in the top eight. After two close runs from both drivers, and a small correction from Justin causing contact between the cars, Vaughn was awarded the win and would move on to face two-time Formula Drift Champion Tanner Foust in the semi-finals.
Vaughn led first against Tanner, with a fast and high line while atop the bank of Wall Stadium. Tanner tried to stay close to Vaughn, but hit the wall causing him to correct and then struggle to keep up the rest of the run. When Vaughn gave chase, he kept close to Tanner, while maintaining good line, speed, and angle. The judges awarded Vaughn the win, and he would move on to the finals with an automatic podium position.
"It is really unbelievable to check out our K&N Air Filter after running all the way from the top 32 to the podium and seeing the amount of rubber and dirt that is blocked from going into our engine," says Vaughn. "I am simply amazed how it can still breathe. Even though it looks like there is no way it is sucking air from all the dirt caked up, that Ford Racing 5.0L still responds when I slam my right foot down each and every round!"
Dai was faced with Brian Wilkerson in the top 32, who spun out, allowing Dai to advance. In the top 16, he was paired with Forrest Wang, who fought a good battle, but was no match for Dai's intense angle and speed throughout the course. Dai moved on to battle Michihiro Takatori in the top 8, and after two nearly-flawless runs, Dai was awarded the win and would move on to the semi-finals.
Dai was lined up once again to face Falken Tire teammate Darren McNamara, who he also had faced in Atlanta's Round Two. After two amazing, evenly-matched runs from both drivers, a very appropriate One-More-Time was called by the judges. During the repeat battle, Darren had a slight error upon initiation on the bank which caused him to tap the wall several times. His vehicle was too damaged to continue which led Dai into the battle for first place against Vaughn.
It was déjà vu for Dai and Vaughn when they were matched in the finals - as the two had battled for 1st place at Round 2 in Atlanta a month earlier. For the final battle of the night, the Falken RT615-K tire smoke filled Wall Stadium during two amazing runs from both competitors. After the smoke cleared, Dai had once again been deemed the winner of the battle and the event, locking down two consecutive 1st place finishes. Vaughn would finish the night in 2nd place, rounding out his third consecutive podium of the 2010 Formula Drift season.
"Winning back-to-back Formula D events is just crazy," says Dai. "Before Round Two, I hadn't won in a long time, and now it came in a pair! Definitely without the help of my team, I could not have pulled this off. And everyone knows having a great drift car means you have to have a solid motor. With K&N Filters helping my motor breath better and cleaner, I never have to worry about my car dying during my competition runs. Hopefully I can continue my winning streak in Seattle and it would be awesome to see if my teammate JR and I can continue to battle again!"
Vaughn and Dai slide into Seattle July 9-10 for Formula Drift Round 4 at Evergreen Speedway as they will both fight to gain some crucial points landing them one step closer to the 2010 Championship.
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