Irwindale Speedway plays host to the Formula Drift 2018 Finals this weekend, with championships being decided in both series. The Formula Drift Pro2 Championship was first to be decided on Friday night as 16 drivers prepared to do battle at the “House of Drift” for the final time in 2018.
Photos By Justin Miller
After qualifying the event was already shaping up to be exciting with series points leader Travis Reeder failing to make the field for Top 16 which left Dylan Hughes with an open invitation to take the championship.
In a crazy turn of events Dylan Hughes was among a handful of drivers to slam the wall in practice less than an hour before Top 16. With Hughes team hustling to find parts, the clock was ticking to get the car back together before driver intros. Wildly enough friend and competitor Travis Reeder had the parts needed and the LS powered S13 was ready to rock for the show! That’s true sportsmanship right there! Give your friend, but more importantly the guy who can beat you in points, the parts off your car to do it! Awesome!
Driver Intros commenced with a funny moment when Kelsey Rowlings appearing with no car (one of the other practice casualties) but using a photo on her phone to stand with!
You really have to love this woman’s attitude towards drifting! She loves it and is always upbeat even through the problems.
Also notably missing from intros, Josh Robinson who team also was clambering to fix the Drift Ute after hitting a bump just past the finish line at a bad angle and shattering his front end in practice.
Top 16 kicked off with first place qualifier Garrett Denton taking on Trenton Beechum and his Drift Stang.
Denton had a strong lead run, but with the team dealing with an alternator issue since practice, the problem showed itself as he attempted to keep pace with an on point Beechum in the chase position.
Beechum took the win and had his Mustang Drift machine was hooked up all night making through the Great 8 it into Top 4.
With the drama high, Championship contender Dylan Hughes lined up against local favorite Crick Fillipi for his Top 16 battle.
As Ryan and Jarod say “with championship implications” on the line for Hughes, Fillipi brought his A game to Irwindale and layed down a strong lead and chase run to move on to Top 8 and secure the 2018 Pro 2 championship for Travis Reeder and elimate Hughes.
In the longest battle of the night Josh Robinson and Brody Goble took it to each other with the judges being unable to decide a winner and forcing 2 OMT battles.
After 6 runs and three sets of tires, Goble’s Nissan s15 edged out Robinson’s Holden Commodore Ute to move on.
Top 8 brought with it rain and lightning which forced track officials to evacuate the fans in the stands after the first battle of Gauthier and Schmidt. After a short break the action, the almost slow motion balliet that is rain drifting commenced with Gauthier moving on top Top 4 to face Trenton Beechum.
The hard charging Fillipi would take out Robbins to move on to Top 4.
Riley Sexsmith would take out Brody Goble to move on.
A rain soaked final 4 saw Gauthier take out Beechum in a great close battle. And Sexsmith take out Fillip after a belt did damage to his S13 to set up the Final.
Final Battle – Riley Sexsmith vs Sébastien Gauthier
First runs saw both drivers make mistakes in the sloppy conditions, causing the judges to need a OMT to decide a winner. The second run saw Sexsmith take his Toyota 86 hard into the wall, making Sébastien Gauthier the winner of Formula Drift Pro 2 Championship Round 4.
Winner – Sébastien Gauthier
2nd – Riley Sexsmith
3rd – Crick Fillipi