Dai Yoshihara Experiences Highs and Lows at 2020 Formula DRIFT Seattle Rounds
The new format for 2020 Formula DRIFT events places a great deal of pressure on teams to perform consistently. With Round Three taking place on Saturday, immediately followed by Round Four, the teams don’t have time to relax. Not only must they adapt to the track and fellow competitors, Round Three at Evergreen Speedway near Seattle threw in changing weather conditions to keep everybody on their toes.
For 2011 FD Champion Dai Yoshihara in his Turn 14 Distribution / Falken Tire / ENEOS Oil Subaru BRZ, the weekend began well with a bye round in the Top 32 heats promoting him through to the Top 16.
Running against Chelsea DeNofa, Dai led the first run, with his smooth style allowing Chelsea to follow very close proximity. On Chelsea’s lead, Dai chased as close as he dare, but made contact with DeNofa’s Mustang at the end of the bank in Outer Zone 1. Fortunately, the judges ruled that Chelsea had slowed momentarily and was deemed to have caused the collision. Therefore, the judges unanimously voted for Dai to move on to the Great 8 where he met Justin Pawlak in another Ford Mustang.
Dai again took the lead and initiated quickly, creating a gap and forcing Pawlak to respond. As he tried to close up the gap in the Power Alley, Pawlak made a slight correction on Inside Clip 1. Once the second run was completed, Dai had maintained closer proximity throughout the run and again received a unanimous vote from the judges.
In the Top 4, Dai faced his third Mustang of the day, this time driven by Vaughn Gittin Jr. With his trademark aggression, Gittin Jr had a more successful chase run with superior proximity. And although his lead run was flawless, Dai was knocked out by Gittin Jr who would continue to win FD Round Three.
Relegated to the Third Place run-off, Dai would need to beat 2013 FD Champion, Michael Essa’s BMW to claim the bottom step of the podium. And despite a great lead run, Dai made a small mistake transitioning into Outside Zone 3 in the chase position. This put him off course, handing Michael the win and putting Dai in fourth place overall.
After working into the evening to ensure the Turn 14 Distribution / Falken Tire / ENEOS Oil Subaru BRZ was in top condition for Sunday’s Round Four, Dai would meet Jhonnattan Castro in the Top 32 heats.
With Dai again taking the lead position, Castro would collide with the banking and then Yoshihara even before reaching Outer Zone 1. At the fastest part of the course, the damage to both vehicles was extensive. Castro was ruled at fault and unable to complete repairs within his Competition Timeout, Dai continued to the Top 16 to meet multiple FD Champion, Chris Forsberg.
With a less-than-perfect BRZ under him, and Forsberg’s Nissan in the lead position, Dai uncharacteristically misjudged his initiation and hit the wall. Causing significant damage, Dai was unable to return to competition and would finish14th. Forsberg would eventually finish fifth, with Gittin Jr claiming his second victory of the weekend.
Rounds Five and Six of the 2020 Formula DRIFT PRO Championship continue on October 30-November 1 at Texas Motor Speedway near Dallas. Visit formulad.com for 2020 event details and to watch the livestream.