Formula Drift Palm Beach International Raceway Mike Essa

Formula Drift 2013 Round 3: Palm Beach International Raceway

By Justin Banner

Coming off such a controversial and carnage laden Road Atlanta for Round 3 of the Formula Drift Pro Championship, you'd be forgiven for thinking that all of the zany action was behind us. Well, you'd be wrong. First the rain came pouring in on Thursday, causing that practice day to be rained out before it ended.

Then came the incredible incident that Brandon Wicknick had during Top 32 Practice on Saturday causing his car to burst into flames and end his round before it even began. He's fine and the car can be repaired if he can find a rear clip. You'll hear more later.

Now let's get down to business, here is your Top 32 to Finals Coverage!

Justin Pawlak vs Kyle Mohan
The first pair up were number 1 qualifier Justin Pawlak in the Falken Tires Ford Mustang and number 32 qualifier Kyle Mohan in the Energy X/Mazdatrix/Nexen Tire Mazda RX-8. Kyle struggled with the car during qualifying, but looked better in competition. Justin Pawlak, though, was looking good from start to finish and was able to muscle out Mohan in the Pony Car!
Robbie Nishida vs Chris Ward
Formula Drift Rookie, Chris Ward in the Bedrock Nation Nissan S14 240SX would look to take out the monstrous Achilles Radial Lexus SC400 of Robbie Nishida. Despite the best Ward could throw at him, Chris could never find Nishida's achilles heel. Robbie moves on to Top 16.
Dave Briggs vs Jeremy Lowe
Jeremy “J-Lo” Lowe in the Enjuku RX-7 is the only RX-7 that still has a rotary installed in professional drifting. Jeremy would have a gargantuan effort against the 700+Horsepower SR20VET powered AV Fab S14 240SX of Dave Briggs. After initial struggles in the car, Dave has found his footing and was able to blow past Lowe like a badly tuned turbo rotary blows out apex seals when J-Lo spun out. Briggs was in his first Top 16 of 2013!
Joon Maeng vs Tony Angelo
The first controversial call of the Palm Beach round would be one of many in Top 32. Tony Angelo in the US Air Force/Turn 14/Hankook Tire Scion FR-S would face the nicest guy in drifting, Joon Maeng in the Lucas Oil/Mav TV/Nexen Tire Nissan S13 240SX. Tony was able to perform a great lead run and it really looked like the FR-S was finally dialed in, but on his follow run against Joon, Tony hit him before the final front clipping point. It sent Tony into a spin and Joon would lose his rocker panel.
Based on what was observed at Road Atlanta that should have given Joon the win. Add to it that it is stressed that the lead car is to be used as a moving clipping point and Tony constantly surging and straightening against Joon should have also given Joon the win. After moments of deliberation, Tony was awarded the win and it was explained that Joon was not fast enough through the entire course. Joon tried to file a protest but forms have to be printed and cash given in order to do so. Without either, Joon’s request could not be answered per Formula Drift rules and Angelo moved on.


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Wednesday, June 05, 2013 11:30 AM
So I dont get the "paperwork and money" comments. I get that paperwork would need to be filed for a complaint but cash, really? Is this a typical thing in auto racing? Is it a large sum? Seems like bribery more than anything.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013 11:51 AM
With the Joon/Tony ruling early on. . . I'm not the only one that thinks that drivers who sponsors also sponsor the FD series get preferential (spelling?) treatment. . .

Protodad, "protesting" is tyupical in racing. My dad raced go-carts (stock appearing and limited modified series) for years. Anytime he won it was a given that someone would protest him, the only time the person protesting him had to pay up was if nothing was found illegal on his go-kart. I like that idea better, you protest, and win the protest, then you don't pay. You protest and lose, you pay up for wasting everyones time. Formula D however seems to be backwards, you pay up, and then get told "Thanks, but you still lose."
Wednesday, June 05, 2013 11:55 AM
Formula D doesn't want to take the time to deal with protests. Hence the cash up front. That just makes it so not everyone can protest. Or can afford to.

But they can still say that the ability to protest is there.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013 12:07 PM
The protest itself doesn't bother me. That is common to all sports, not just auto racing. Paying for a ruling seems rediculous though.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013 1:10 PM
Like most have already said, a rational protest is fine, the way FD goes about dealing with the protest is the vile part. I like the idea of paying post-complaint depending on the final decision.

Things like that are what make me avoid following FD in the first place. To be honest, if it were not for drivers like Dai and Joon, I would not pay much attention to FD.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013 2:06 PM
If I were to participate in FD it would be just for the fun and challenge of it. The judging hasn't been consistent over the years and judging is the determining factor for that competition. I'm not familiar with the politics behind the scenes but it's clear that there is some. In a competition where the score is subjective, politics are a bad thing.
Thursday, June 06, 2013 8:27 AM
Judging is dependent on two things. How big your sponsor is, and if your sponsor also sponsors that FD series. Case in point, Angelo is sponsored by the Air Force, the Air Force also sponsors Formula Drift. . . there are several parallels to be made there.
Justin Banner
Justin Bannerlink
Thursday, June 06, 2013 8:51 AM
@onehundredoctane, your comment falls apart when you see that Ford is a title sponsor, yet Vaughn Gittin and Justin Pawlak did not win. Falken is a title sponsor, but there was no Falken sponsored drivers in the finals. GoPro is the series presenting sponsor, but Tyler didn't make the finals.
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