While the Indy Cars were pounding the pavement in Detroit, Formula Drift was slaying tires at Palm Beach Florida. This round was one full of surprises and controversy. Surprises came in the fact that neither Matt Powers, Ken Gushi, and Walker Wilkerson made the top 32. Some found it surprising that Tony Angelo did make the top 32. I say the man was due after a long string of bad luck.
However the biggest surprise (and pleasant one) was Mike Essa finally getting his first win! Essa took down Taka Aono, Tyler McQuarrie, Chris Forsberg, Robbie Nishida, and finally Daigo “The Ninja” Saito to earn his victory. It was refreshing to see a new face on top of the podium and amazing to see Essa take down such a daunting gauntlet of competitors. Hopefully we will see Essa earn more victories in the near future. Daigo Saito earned second place and Robbie Nishida nabbed third.
As far as controversy, there were many calls made by the judges this round that seemed questionable to the fans watching at the event and live on the driftstream. In fact, there were so many controversial calls that Wrecked Magazine has their readers vote on the battle they feel needs clarification. At the end, one of the Formula Drift judges will guest blog to explain the calls made in the most voted on battle.
Although it seems that at this point voting would just be a formality. If you have been following the comments on Wrecked and other drift websites you will easily find that the most talked about battle was between Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Daigo Saito in the final four. It was a one more time battle and it started with Daigo leading. Right as both drivers entered the second transition Vaughn Gittin plowed in to Saito. Vaughn was deemed at fault for the collision and Saito got the win but Saito’s car was not the same after that battle and he fell to Essa in the final battle. Some fans are going as far as to say that Vaughn intentionally hit Daigo to keep him from winning and extending a points lead over Vaughn from which he would not be able to recover.
I admit it looks pretty bad but I personally don’t think it was intentional. However, this is Vaughn’s second incident in a row in which he plows through (or over) his competitor. Even J-Rod (announcer) seemed annoyed at Vaughn.
I invite you to watch the battle for yourself here and come to your own conclusion: http://new.livestream.com/FormulaDrift/PalmBeach/videos/20421934
Head over to Wrecked Magazine’s blog to voice your opinion after you watch. The judges just might respond!