The famed Long Beach circuit came alive today with the sounds of screaming engines and smell of burnt tires with the Formula Drift Pro Drifting Championship kicking off its 2019 Season.
For the first time in a at least a season or two we had a full deal of 32+ qualifiers which meant no bye runs as long as all 32 could put down qualifying scores. Easy right?
Nope this is Long Beach after all. An unforgiving wall lined track that inches mean the difference between thrilling the judges and the crowd or a slight mistake that leaves you at the mercy of the Drift gods.
Kevin Lawrence was the first victim of the concrete in practice. Taking his Ride into the tire barrier and wall sustaining terminal damage and having to retire from the event. Luckily Kevin was OK and the Enjuku team will rebuild for Orlando!
Qualifying kicked off with newcomer to Formula Drift Manuel Vacca from Italy in the rented Michael Essa BMW E46. Unfortunately Vacca would lay down double zeroes in his first attempt at Long Beach.
The story of the day by far was Matt Fields near perfect qualifying run that brought the house to its feet! Field sent his Corvette Drift machine from wall to wall, on the Long Beach circuit putting down a thrilling 99 point run to solidify the first qualifier spot.
Under the new “segment” scoring system we saw a top 10 that was only separated by a couple points, making the drivers and teams scramble to find that little bit extra to get ahead. A 96 point run put you in 6-10 place! The competition is super tight this season and we should get some insane battles tomorrow!
Formula Drift Round 1 Pro Drifting Championship Kicks off today at 2pm EST with Top 32 competition at Long Beach! Tune in and join the fun! Head over to www.formulad.com for all the event info and series news!
All photos by Justin Miller