Just a few weeks ago, Rhys Millen and his Hyundai team made their way up the historic Pikes Peak in record setting time. Nothing is more encouraging than knowing you won the last event and very little has changed about you or your car. The Hyundai team had a confidence about them and their car and everybody knew it.
Rhys was looking smooth after practice and qualifying and even at the driver’s meeting was able to continue keeping his confidence up.
Later that night, there wasn’t much work to be done on the Genesis Coupe before top 32 competition the next day. Quite rare in racing.
Daigo Saito is in second place overall and was set to be Millen’s biggest hurdle during the top 8. Saito had some great surges against Millen, but unfortunately..
Saito fell victim to the high speed wall during his lead run. This would mark the 7th vehicle crash of the day. It was as if he turned around and looked at me to say, “did you see that?!”
Millen would continue on to win the event bringing him up to third place overall with 428 points. (45 pts behind current leader Vaughn Gittin @ 473) Congratulations!
Rewind a few days and when I first arrived in Vegas, we picked up Chris Ward’s car from Forrest Wang’s shop, Get Nuts Lab.
When we arrived, the crew was already busy preparing their cars for the track. Forrest Wang and Garret Nikolich drive the twin green S13.4 coupes.
There’s some pretty cool gems laying around this place and in my opinion it’s one of the more progressive shops around. It was even more fun seeing them in action.
Chris Ward had a pretty practice day and qualifying day and for the first time this season wasn’t plagued by engine/transmission problems before he could even compete.
The one bummer was during practice when the entire front end just flew off the car leaving quite a mess to repair. Otherwise, Chris hadn’t seen a day when he could actually spend time tweaking suspension settings instead of rushing to fix broken powertrain/suspension parts.
Chris almost looked nervous during the drivers meeting after qualifying, but for some of us we were just happy to see him make it to the top 32 again.
Chris went against Roland Gallagher in top 32 and during his lead run was able to establish quite a gap.
Both drivers were said to have made some corrections during their runs, but apparently, the judges called in favor of Gallagher and he would move on to his first top 16 of the season. Congrats to him as well!
Vaughn Gittin Jr. was another driver to watch. Winning the past 2 rounds had given Vaughn the championship lead and there was no reason for his performance to fall short.
After qualifying within the top 5, it was clear that there were other drivers who came to battle and Vaughn would have his work cut out for him to repeat a third victory.
The next day during the driver’s meeting, the judges were going over what they’d like to see. As always, Vaughn is quick to speak up when clarification is necessary.
Gittin looked poised to chase down Aasbo, but the hammer would have his way and continue on to finish 2nd behind Rhys Millen.
There was an awesome campaign for Danny George being that this is his hometown event. He seemed pretty happy during the qualifying results meeting after breaking into the top 32.
He was taken out by Walker Wilkerson in the top 32 after tapping the wall. Thankfully Danny didn’t lose his drift or wreck his car either.
Joon Maeng returned in his own car, an LS2 powered S13 hatch.
Odi Bakchis wrecked his S14 early in practice on thursday and luckily was able to continue to compete in another vehicle.
He was eventually beaten by Robbie Nishida who had been ripping the course lap after lap.
It looks as though the Achilles/Bridges Racing team has gotten that car set just right to finish the season strong.
Nishida’s day didn’t stop until Vaughn put his foot down for the 3rd place spot.
Ken Gushi demonstrates some serious car control here. The fact that there was no collision here was impressive.
Ken made sure to secure his spot in the top 16 after going “flame-on” against Matt Field.
Apparently Ken ran over part of the clip and struck an oil line that sprayed oil everywhere.
If Ken had stopped and noticed the fire, he probably wouldn’t have won the match and moved on.
Earlier in the day, the clouds had been showing warning signs. We knew it would probably rain right before the competition started.
At least it stopped briefly for sunset. When the sun sets on the track, It can be one of the most beautiful moments. It also means the big battle is coming.
The opening ceremony was spiced up a bit by adding fireworks after the top 16 drivers were announced.
One of the aforementioned wrecks featured Tony Angelo after a power steering failure sent his front wheel flying through the fender (also taking a few brake and suspension parts along with it)
Definitely a look of disappointment, but glad he was otherwise unhurt. That’s the look of “Ok come round 7 I’ll be ready!”
With one round of competition left in the season, the championship race is tighter than ever. As of round 6, the current top 3 standings are as follows:
1st. Vaughn Gittin – 473 pts
2nd. Daigo Saito – 447 pts
3rd. Rhys Millen – 428 pts
Formula Drift will also be premiering on NBC Sports today @ 5PM EST and will be the first of 12 episodes showcasing the current 2012 season and showing the world the sport we know as drifting.