Formula D Irwindale: Essa and die Ultimative Driftmaschine

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersAfter qualifying was over and the Top 32 bracket was filled out, everyone realized how incredibly stacked it was. In the first quadrant of the bracket, there were three champions (Saito, Forsberg, and Yoshihara) and the current points leader (Essa). That’s half of the drivers in that quadrant. But in the same quadrant was also the 2011 Rookie of the Year (Bakchis) and a veteran driver who has been on the podium several times (Pawlak). Gittin was the only other champion at the event and he was in the third quadrant. Aasbø was the only other Rookie of the Year and he was in the fourth quadrant.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersAs the number one qualifier, Michael Essa was at the line first, ready to battle rookie Luke Pakula. Pakula didn’t even drift the big bank but Essa completed his run flawlessly. As Essa pulled back into the grid it seemed like his car was having problems.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersThe hood was popped and things were inspected. Essa thought a stretched valve was causing the engine to be low on power. In the meantime Pakula pulled up to the start line, ready for his lead run. Essa called a Competition Time Out so Pakula headed back to his pit so the next battle could take place during Essa’s time out. Things didn’t look good for the points leader.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersDaigo Saito and Justin Pawlak met in the Final Battle at Irwindale last season and, as in that battle, Saito came out on top.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersDai Yoshihara was Forsberg’s first obstacle, but he got past him without issue.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersAt this point, Fredric Aasbø and Vaughn Gittin, Jr. were out of the running for the championship, but the still had a shot at the season podium if they could stay ahead of Saito and each other. Gittin took out Carl Rydquist and Aasbo beat Conrad Grunewald.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersAs the sun set over Los Angeles, Pakula declared that his transmission was broken and he was conceding the battle to Essa, causing a storm of controversy. If Essa got the 54 points for making it to the Top 16, Chris Forsberg would have to make it to the Final Battle in order to win the championship. But if Essa only got the 24 Top 32 points, Forsberg would only have to get to the Top 8.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersNeedless to say, Forsberg’s team had a lot riding on the outcome of this battle, so they protested the action and accused Pakula of throwing the battle on purpose so his buddy Essa could win the championship. Formula D heard the protest but held that Essa would move on to the Top 16. Now it was up to Forsberg to be at the top of his game.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersBy the time the Top 16 came around, Essa’s car was still broken and the driver introductions went on without him.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersWith Essa’s car out of the competition, Saito got a bye run into the Top 8.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersForsberg moved past Odi Bakchis and waited for the rest of the Top 16 to finish so he could get back to work and face Daigo Saito in one of the most important battles of the season. If Pakula hadn’t forfeited his Top 32 battle with Essa, Forsberg would have already been champion at this point.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersOn the other side of the bracket, Gittin moved past Ryan Kado and Aasbø edged out Ryan Tuerck.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersAnd then Forsberg and Saito squared off. If Saito won, Forsberg wouldn’t be able to earn the points to move past Essa in the Championship. If Forsberg won, he’d then only have to beat Dean Kearney or Robbie Nishida, depending on which one of them won the next battle, and he’d have his second Championship.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersEssa came back down to the grid to watch the action. I asked him if he was nervous watching this battle and he said, “No, not really, since I can’t do anything about it.”

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersEveryone had their eyes glued to the Jumbotron, waiting on the outcome of the battle. Saito won and Michael Essa became the 2013 Formula Drift Champion. He overcame incredible odds as a privateer and proved that budget isn’t everything. He’s also the first non-DA American to win the title since Tanner Foust got it in 2008. When asked how he felt about it, he said, “Of course I’m happy I won, but I’m sad it’s like this. I’d rather be out there.”

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersBut wait! With all the excitement of crowning a new Champion, we can’t forget that someone still needed to win this round. Robbie Nishida beat Dean Kearney and joined Saito in the Final Four, while Forrest Wang and Tyler McQuarrie took care of Gittin and Aasbø respectively.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersNishida and Wang lost their battles and faced each other in the Consolation, where Nishida crashed out and Wang earned his first podium finish.

formula d irwindale 2013 drifting michael essa daigo saito chris forsberg luke pakula controversy protest fredric aasbo andrew bohan life blastersAfter a very rough year, Tyler McQuarrie finally had a stellar performance only to fall victim to the wall behind Saito in the Final Battle. It was his first podium finish since he won at Irwindale two years ago in the Falken Z33.

Essa Win (2 of 2)Remember when I said there were three champions in the first quadrant? Make that four champions.
 
 
 
.:Bohan
 
email: bohan@lifeblasters.com Instagram: @andrew_bohan, @lifeblasters
 
Photos by Bohan, Ayala, Delaney, and David Karey
 
 
 

18 thoughts on “Formula D Irwindale: Essa and die Ultimative Driftmaschine

  1. I think the way he won is irrelivant. He busted his ass to get there. The whole controversy with Luke(true or not) shouldn’t taint or question his victory.

  2. Timo Glock was accused of a similar thing when Lewis Hamilton won the F1 Championship at Interlagos. Lewis looked like he blew it until he sailed past Glock on the final couple of corners of the final lap. It sucks for Forsberg no doubt but you cant lay your own championship on what another driver does you need to be in control of that yourself. Luke, from what i heard on the grapevine, got a lot of hassle over it which isn’t nice at all.

  3. Very true. I was one of those people. After Seattle though, I kinda knew it was going to be him or Forsberg. Both those guys were soooo on point this year.

  4. yea, losing in top 32 gets you 24 points, whereas losing in top 16 gets you 54. essa finished the season with 555.5 points, 17.5 ahead of forsberg’s 538. if essa had lost in top 32, he would have 30 fewer points, so he would have had 525.5, 12.5 behind forsberg. that’s why that battle was so important.

  5. Its the same as any battle, mma, boxing, wrestling ect… never leave your fate in another person or persons hands. Capture the victory based upon your skill, not another persons mishap.

  6. except in a subjective ‘sport’ your fate is left in the hands of judges…. and in formula D’s case… clueless ones.

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