Welcome, drifters, to the second part of the championship, with 6 rounds done and 6 more to go. We have expected somebody to assert a clear dominance in the standings but so far this could not have been further from the truth. While Team Stellar drift with HowlerAutomotive at the helm does seem to be a sure bet, they're only 10 points ahead of team Kraft Haus Technik, which managed to consistently rack up points. Close third is Gridghost, a privateer who's performance is also surprisingly good, and who is the only one who managed to score more than 1 win. Matti and team SRD are closing the 400+ points club.
Ebisu has left the teams in serious disarray, with better sponsored teams being back in full force, cars shiny and looking brand spanking new, while most privateers are running battle scarred machinery, fixed in the previous week, but still bearing marks of the world's most feared drift track.
Today we are running at Tsukuba, and unlike any other track we've faced, it does not feature a wall that you must run. The closest thing to a wallrun is at clipping point 2, where you have a wide grass runoff before the wall becomes your problem, same can be said about c4 and c6. On the other hand this is a very long track with 8 clips, all of which should be perfect
The flow of the track has suited all of the drivers who took to the track as duck to water, many of who were having the time of their lives, performing smooth transitions and hitting the clips impressing the crowd.
HowlerAutomotive 67 / 70
Matti 67 / 69
GridGhost 64 / 68
Squidhead 67 / 63
Airjordan 63 / 59
Madrias 57 / 59
Szafirowy 58 / 58
4LGE 56 / 58
Strop 57 / 50
STM316 53 / 55
DoriftoDorifto 53 / 51
RK38 44 / 48
JohnWaldock 44 / 39
Vri404 36 / 38
With the qualifying proving to be a shock to everybody on the grid (who expected another bloody mess after Ebisu, and got a hugs and rainbows) and one parade after we were ready to start
HowlerAutomotive - Very solid run, similar to his qualifying one
Matti - a safe approach, scoring lower than he could've, but unopposed he moves on
Madrias vs DoriftoDorito
Good runs by both drifters, both on the lead and the follow, but while Dorifto tried to go all out on the speed Madrias banked on show and proximity to the cones. In the chase run Madrias did allow for some distance between the cars, but in the lead Dorifto just could not keep up the angle Madrias was demonstrating. Leaving Ken and James voting for him against Keiichi who thought Dorifto did a better job at going fast.
Airjordan vs RK38
Both drifters took to the track flat out, initiating late and going for as much speed as they could get, trying to get ahead of the competitor. Both runs were done in a similar fashion, with Airjordan's Bellfaw scoring the win in the lines and speed, with Ken not knowing who to chose between the two and voted OMT. Airjordan moves forward
Squidhead vs JohnWaldock
John knew he had to push his Paradox extremely hard to keep an even battle with the v8 powered Maesima of KHT, but sadly the cars were far from even. Squidhead had easier time of controlling the car which allowed him to dive harder, running full lock and producing tons of smoke, with John needing a lot of corrections to even try to get close. All 3 judges decided that Squidhead should move on
Gridghost vs Vri404
The first run with Vri leading was shaping up to be an interesting sight, as Gridghost went out of his way to follow as close as possible, nearly scraping the Hadron piloted by Vri. This has put some serious pressure on her, and in the entry to C6 she made a mistake, ran wide and collided with the wall, damaging the car severely. The second run Gridghost had to lead and Vri tried to fix her mistake in the first run, so she got a bit too close, and when Gridghost went full lock in C4 to shave off some speed Vri could not follow suit and crashed into the Scarab's left door, leaving them both standing in the middle of the track, Hadron leaking coolant and Scarab having his driver's door jammed. Judges saw this as Vri's mistake again and gave the win to Gridghost. At this moment a team of mechanics are working hard to assess the damage and to fix the car for the top 8
Szafirowy vs STM316
A very tight battle in the first run, where Szafirowy was leading. STM did not give him an inch and followed very closely throughout the whole track transitioning perfectly straight into Szafirowy's front quarterpanel, even making minor contact that had no effect on the car's ballance during the drift. A very tough act to follow for Szafirowy, but he delivered just that, through the first 3 clips Szafirowy looked like he could inch it from STM who ran a very dated car, up to the point of transitioning BEFORE STM, and guessing the position of the lead car flawlessly. Everywhere STM put his car on every transition - Szafirowy was already there on his door, before STM finished his maneuvre. Sadly this was a high risk tactic and it could've worked, but at Clip 4 where STM went to slow down for the left hander Szafirowy went too deep and STM transitioned straight into the spot where the Luna v8 already had it's front end. A crash followed. Both cars stayed sideways and on the track but it was evident that it really screwed up the flow and the lines for both of them. Judges had to consult each other for a good 5 minutes and watched replays. The verdict was "if not for this crash, Szafiwory would have had it, but it was his fault for being too eager, thus the mistake is his. STM moves on to top 8"
4LGE vs Strop
Once again Strop managed to get himself into a very even battle right at the start of the competition, pairing off against 4LGE, who's RAX was usually demonstrating a very similar behaviour to Strop's GTC concept. Both runs by both drifters could've been text book material, and that left the judges with a connundrum. They could not decide who wore it better, as they pretty much xerox copied each other in their driving style. There was no choice but to OMT.
4LGE vs Strop OMT 1
The first run had Strop pull a bit of a lead on 4LGE, while maintaining the control and smoke show he usually provided, 4LGE trailing behind by a car's length copying Strop as best he could. The second run Strop knew he had an advantage and decided to go for a safe approach, letting 4LGE a bit of room to beathe. Sadly it was a bit too much room, and the judges ruled this as an inactive chase, so 4LGE's chase runs was deemed better than Strops', and 4LGE moves on
With the deck shuffled a bit and the drivers providing most of the entertainment, not the walls for a change the Top 8 was about to commence. Only real change from top 16 is that now Gridghost's scarab sported a seriously hammered door, lacking most of the recognizeable decals. Everybody else came through relatively unscathed.
Squidhead vs Airjordan
This was shaping up a good run, as these two did not run against each other for some time, and Airjordan was very determined to go through Squidhead and shoot out to the next round, as the battle for points heated up after half the season. And go through Squidhead he almost did, literally. As they exited the first hairpin Airjordan following Squidhead transitioned for the long right hander, and Airjordan made a mistake, his front end grippling up. The Bellfaw plowed straight into the rear right of the Maesima severely damaging the car, leading Squidhead into a crash with his rear left into the wall. As smoke cleared we saw the MRZ-3 barely moving under it's own power, the rear axle bent and twisted, both rear tires off the rims, HRE wheels bent and the bodykit ripped to shreds. But the Bellfaw had even worse issues, the crash was so severe that both front wheels were looking int he wrong directions and the engine ripped off it's mounts lied on the ground leaking fluids, covering the car in steam and smoke. The judges made a call for Squidhead to move on to the top 4, if the team could fix the car. As we speak an army of mechanics, along with many drivers who have already been eliminated volunteering, working on the green coupe, trying to get it to work.
Gridghost vs Madrias
The Scarab has seen better days, but was far from being discounted in this competition, Madrias taking the challenger seriously in his Storm Knight. The first run had Gridghost follow, and he did a bang up job at that, sticking close, and maxing his angle on each corner. Madrias had a tough act to follow. The first half of the course it was a valiant effort, but as they entered the first right hander Madrias carried a bit too much speed that he could not shave off. Luckily for Gridghost - he already went full throttle on the right hander, moving out of the way of the Storm Knight, which spun out of control moving straight off the track and into the run off area. No damage done, but such a serious mistake cost him the chance at the top 4
Matti vs STM316
Matti knew exactly the strengths and weaknesses of his car and his opponent's driving style. So when it came to it he played his cards exactly right. The chase run was a tutorial on "how to follow", deep angles, great lines and speed to match STM's Venice. On his lead run he did not hesitate to drop some of his speed in favour of more smoke and full lock left foot braking techniques, providing for more smoke than a full on burnout could, clipping every cone perfectly. STM could not match that, and both Ken and James thought that it was a clear vicotry for Matti.
Howlerautomotive vs 4LGE
4LGE thought that speed would be his saving grace in this battle, and it could have been if Howler did not bank on different things. His showmanship shined, and the skill combined with the great handling of the car allowed for perfect transitions and drift lines and angles that did not require any corrections at all. Howler was on fire today, and while in his chase run he did allow for a bit of a distance between the cars both Ken and James ruled him as a winner.
HowlerAutomotive vs Squidhead
The battle between the leader of the championship and the 2nd place happened in the semi finals, both drivers being formidable opponents, Howler did, however look a lot stronger during todays' event, clocking in insane runs, demonstrating the car to be the very best in the championship. Squdhead came into the starting area, half his car missing, both rear fenders removed, rear bumper consisting more of zip ties than actual bumper, lots of hammering marks and the rear window covered completely over with duct tape. Fresh set of Work wheels at the back, courtesy of team NorthStar Drift, who lent him a set for this run. The crowd saw the technical officer going over the car, inspecting it from below. He finally got out from underneath it and said something to Squidhead. Grandstands were quiet for a second and then the Maesima roared up into a burnout, signaling this battle was on. Howler calmly and confidently rolled up tot he start line. At the first run Howler was leading, Squidhed putting on the pressure. While his lines and angles could not really compete with Howlers' his speed was more than enough to keep a close proximity, this continued all the way through the course, where Howler finally caved in to the pressure, making a mistake. The prodigy prototype went wide in the final bend, allowing Squdihead to dive on the inside, and push Howler back, until the MRZ3 emerged in front as they exited to the finish line. Such a severe mistake by Howler cost him dearly, and he piled up the pressure tenfold on Squidhead through out the second run. Better angles, better lines, clouds of smoke, but Squdhead used the tiny advantage in speed to keep in front, and with no mistakes made crossed the line first, making his best run of the day. The judges saw the fact that in the second run the cars were very much even and could warrant a OMT run, but sadly because of Howler's mistake in the first run, this was not about to happen. Squidhead moves on.
Gridghost vs Matti
Another great battle was at hand, with both GridGhost and Matti setting their sights on the win today, Gridghost wishing to assert his dominance by scoring a third win, and Matti wishing for evening out the score by running 2 wins in the tournament aswell. Gridghost had all the speed advantage on his hands, and Matti knew this full well. In the chase run Matti went lower on his angles to gain some speed just to keep up with Gridghost's Scarab. Perfect run from Gridghost and a decent chase by Matti later the battle looked even. Second run Matti just did his thing, he did not care much for speed, as he nailed every single line on the course, narrowly avoiding cones and dirt drops, Gridghost had a trouble going that deep, since it would mean exceeding his car's limitations. He kept his cool and controlled the car properly, but it was not enough to impress the judges. Ken and James voted Matti.
Matti vs Squidhead
Here we have it folks, Squidhead of KHT, with a car held together with tape, rivets and zip ties, running against the cunning tactician that was Matti. Both drivers were experienced enough to get the win, and at some point both already did. Squdhead got here by shear luck and going all out every time, and Matti by carefully observing his opposition and playing to his strengths. This was a battle of brute force versus smarts.
As they ran for the first time, Squidhead leading Matti went in his regular controlled fashion, while Squidhead just gunned the hell out of the 6 liter v8. This led to a bit of a gap forming between the cars, both pouring on tons of smoke. The second run Matti did his thing, going slower than usual, but making the perfect line through the course. This however did allow Squidhead to get extremely close, but it also made Squid's task much harder, requiring corrections mid corners. The judges consulted for a bit.
Keiichi - Squidhead
Ken - OMT
James - Matti
Matti vs Squdihead OMT1
This was getting tense and both drivers were feeling the pressure. The calm and collected runs that we've seen before were gone, replaced by frantic overkill on both parties in both runs. Matti made a few corrections too many, while Squidhead did make a mistake of going way too much of an angle and slowed down to a crawl at one point. The judges were confused, and all 3 of them voted for another OMT
Matti vs Squidhead OMT2
The second OMT run commenced, and both drivers took a chill pill. They saw their mistakes when running hot headed in the previous run, and tried to just do their best. This, however backfired again on both of them as they basically repeated the battle they first had, judges scoring the same verdict as they did before, and yet another OMT had to be had.
Matti vs Squidhead OMT3
If this run did not provide for a viable result, per Formula Drift rules, the one with a higher qualification score would be declared a winner, so the pressure was on Squidhead for this one. Having no choice but to go hard he ran Matti's front fenders with his front wheels, causing minor damage, keeping extremely close the whole time. This was a very serious run and a hard blow for Matti, who now had to follow a faster car and somehow win. Needless to say Matti was getting nervous, while Squidhead managed to calm down a bit, the first run did give him enough of an advantage to take it a bit easier. As both car ran the last run of the day Squidhead led by quite a margin, Matti trying desperately to keep up. And it would be a useless effort, right up to the C3 into C4, where the Maesima's on-the spot welding finally gave up. Doing about 90 kph sideways the rear subframe simply fell off, car dropping on the wheels, cutting both of them with the exposed metal, locking them up, torque of the v8 ripping the propshaft out of the differential, and beating on the car's underbody, destroying the car completely. As the smoking and leaking Maesima MRZ-3 slid to a halt Matti stopped his car to make sure everything was ok. No casualties reported he went on to the technical park. This could mean only one thing, Squidhead could not continue, and really there was no point as this was the final run anyway. Matti is the second driver who has now scored two wins in the championship.
Matti 107 pts
Squidhead 84 pts
HowlerAutomotive 74 pts
GridGhost 69 pts
Airjordan 52 pts
Madrias 52 pts
4LGE 52 pts
STM316 51 pts
Szafirowy 36 pts
Strop 35 pts
DoriftoDorifto 35 pts
RK38 35 pts
JohnWaldock 35 pts
Vri404 35 pts