After a hiatus of two and a half years, Components DRIFT returned to the streets of Lengthy Seashore, CA, final weekend for Spherical 7 of the Professional Championship collection. Not like earlier occasions, which happened at devoted race tracks, this weekend’s motion occurred on a closed course on actual metropolis streets. With tight curves and plenty of concrete partitions to keep away from, the drivers have been up towards some severe challenges.
“It’s such an unforgiving monitor that I really feel sorry for the brand new drivers who’ve not run right here earlier than,” mentioned veteran driver Justin Pawlak, who earned the highest place within the qualifying spherical. “For veterans like me, the muscle reminiscence returns rapidly and it provides us an enormous benefit over the brand new guys when operating so near the partitions.”
Pawlak and his Falken Tire Ford Mustang have been the celebs of the qualifying spherical. He scored a near-perfect 97 factors, beating out Fredric Aasbo (the winner of the earlier Components DRIFT occasion in St. Louis) and Chelsea DeNofa, who certified second and third, respectively. Whereas these skilled drivers shined in qualifying, the competitors rounds would include various surprises—prompting a serious reshuffling of the factors standings.
The weekend belonged to Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis, a Lithuanian driver behind the wheel of the Falken Tire / Feal Suspension Nissan S15. Bakchis received the opening spherical of the Components DRIFT season at Michelin Raceway Highway Atlanta, however a string of poor performances has saved him off the rostrum since then. Regardless of the difficulties, he entered the weekend in a decent fifth place within the Championship standings, unaware his luck was about to vary.
He lined up towards a formidable opponent within the first spherical: 2020 FD Professional Rookie of the 12 months Adam LZ. Each drivers floored it for his or her lead runs however faltered on their chases, and the judges needed to determine the spherical primarily based on the lead runs alone. They finally sided with Bakchis, figuring out he had drifted deeper, and gave him the win.
Bakchis bested Japan’s Daijiro Yoshihara within the Prime 16 by as soon as once more laying down deeper drifts than his opponent, advert then he confronted 2013 FD Champion Michael Essa within the Prime 8. Whereas chasing, Essa slid right into a wall, forcing a correction that cleared the way in which for Bakchis to win and proceed to the subsequent spherical.
It didn’t get any simpler from there. Within the Prime 4, Bakchis squared off towards three-time FD Professional Champion Chris Forsberg and his NOS Vitality / GT Radial Nissan 370Z. As in his earlier heats, Bakchis flew off the road and set a breakneck tempo. That was sufficient to topple even the extremely skilled Forsberg, who made contact whereas chasing on the ultimate flip. Noting that small mistake, the judges awarded Bakchis the win in a cut up choice.
The ultimate spherical of the night time noticed Bakchis line up towards Norwegian driver Fredric Aasbo, the 2015 FD champion and winner of the earlier Components DRIFT occasion in St. Louis. It was a matchup between two extremely revered drivers, and the environment within the grandstands was electrical. Aasbo led first, and Bakchis managed to shadow him intently all through the run. After that, Bakchis pulled off a stellar lead run of his personal to safe the win and the highest spot on the rostrum.
“I wanted this win actually badly, and it’s an enormous confidence enhance,” Bakchis mentioned afterward. “However we needed to earn it; we needed to battle by way of some powerful rivals, most of whom have been former Champions.”
Bakchis’ victory contributed to some severe shakeups within the total FD Professional Championship standings. Bakchis moved up a spot, from fifth to fourth, which put him 43 factors from the lead. Along with his second place end in Lengthy Seashore (his fifth podium up to now this season), Aasbo jumped from third to first place. Matt Discipline, the factors chief going into this weekend’s occasion, suffered a suspension failure on his third run and completed in eleventh place, placing him in third within the standings. Nonetheless, he’s only a single level behind the present second-ranked driver, Chelsea DeNofa.
There’s nonetheless one final race earlier than the season’s final result is determined. On Oct. 22–23, Components DRIFT heads to Irwindale Speedway—the Home of Drift—for the ultimate spherical of the Professional and Prospec championship collection.
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