Yoshihara Competes at 2020 Formula DRIFT Skills Battle
In preparation for the upcoming 2020 Formula DRIFT Championship season, nine PRO drivers were selected to participate in something new and fun: the inaugural Formula DRIFT Skills Battle presented by Turn 14 Distribution, a place where some of its top talents can demonstrate what they do best.
Given the travel restrictions surrounding COVID-19, FD selected nine veteran drivers from the greater Southern California region to compete at the legendary House of Drift: Irwindale Speedway, battling head-to-head in three challenges—Initiation, Wall Ride and Drag Race—where points accumulated would give the overall winner bragging rights before the opening round of FD.
The FD Skills Battle roster included our very own ENEOS ambassador, Dai Yoshihara in his Turn 14 Distribution / Falken Tire / ENEOS Oil Subaru BRZ, along with Odi Bakchis, “Rad” Dan Burkett, Chris Forsberg, Dylan Hughes, Ryan Litteral, Justin Pawlak and Ryan Tuerck.
The first challenge was Initiation: Drifting begins with the initiation into the first turn, and in this challenge drivers had to pitch their cars around a cone set up on the infield. They’d be judged on how early they initiated, their commitment, along with smoothness and drift angle. With limited practice laps and being judged by the competing drivers, arriving at the correct speed to get through the turn was crucial. Odi Bakchis took the round win, which surprised nobody since his commitment is legendary. Dai was in a very close second place, with Ryan Litteral taking third.
Next was Wall Ride: here the objective was to get as close to foam wall markers as possible on Irwindale’s lower bank wall without hitting them. Typically, drift drivers scrub along this wall (an outer clipping zone in normal competition), but having to stay off the wall added a degree of difficulty. Hit any markers, or don’t come close enough and points were deducted; judges looked for aggressive entry, consistency and car control. This proved to be an advantage for Dai since his BRZ is right-hand drive and gave him a better view of the position of the cones. However, he could only score second again, narrowly missing out to Odi who was slaying the challenges.
The final test in the inaugural FD Skills Battle was Drag Race. It took most of the drivers into unfamiliar territory, and would test their throttle control and reaction times. Drivers were randomly paired for bracket-style heads-up action on Irwindale’s ⅛-mile drag strip. With up to 1000hp under their right foot and most cars not set up for drag racing, traction proved to be the biggest challenge for all. However, one car stood above all others thanks to the expertise of team boss, Stephan Papadakis. A former Pro Import drag racer, Steph was able to dial-in Ryan Tuerck’s Corolla and rocketed him to first place in Drag Race.
Ryan’s closest challenger was Chris Forsberg, followed by a consistent Bakchis in third. Inevitably, this enabled Odi to be crowned the inaugural Skills Battle champion. He narrowly edged out Ryan Tuerck in second place, with Chris Forsberg finishing a close third. Sadly, Dai dropped to a distant fourth by virtue of his seventh place finish in the Drag Race.
When the smoke had cleared, the teams had a great day and everybody’s waiting with great anticipation for the first 2020 FD event, which takes place on September 4-6. Tickets are available at www.FormulaD.com, or fans can view the free livestream coverage on the same website.
In the meantime, enjoy the Formula DRIFT Skills Battle video:
Photos/Videos: Courtesy of Formula DRIFT