After a seven-year hiatus, Irish driver James Deane made his return to Formula Drift and emerged victorious in his Worthhouse Drift Team / Falken Tire Nissan S15 after a head-to-head battle against Alex Heilbrunn during the first round of the Formula Drift Pro series, Streets of Long Beach.
Deane qualified in second position the day prior, proving himself a contender as took out both former champion Michael Essa and the reigning and 3-time champion, Chris Forsberg, before entering a battle with Ryan Tuerck in the Gumout / Nameless Performance / Hankook Toyota 86 in the semi-finals. Deane was consistent and with a solid chase run he was able to advance to the Finals.
Heilbrunn defeated Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis behind the wheels of his IMR / Nitto Tire BMW M3 in a one-more-time battle that saw Bakchis make an error while chasing Heilbrunn.
Deane’s consistency and technical driving were no match for Heilbrunn in the finals and Deane won his first Formula DRIFT victory to take the lead in the chase for the championship.
The first event of the season commenced on the Grand Prix of Long Beach Street Course in California. Formula Drift officials reported attendance was at its capacity and the series, now in its 14th season, achieved over a million live stream viewers, a new record for the series.
In addition to being the return of Deane, Round one also introduced new drivers Georgy Chivchyan from Russia and Piotr Wiecek from Poland.
“Man, what a way to start back in Formula DRIFT after missing out on the last seven years,” said Deane, winner of Round 1: Streets of Long Beach. “I owe a lot to my good friend and teammate, Piotr Wiecek, who came up with this whole idea to come back to the Series as a two-car team.”
Round 1: Streets of Long Beach event Results
- Deane, James Worthouse Drift Team / Falken Tire Nissan 240 Winner
- Heilbrunn, Alex IMR / Nitto Tire BMW M3 2nd Place
- Tuerck, Ryan Gumout / Nameless Performance / Hankook Toyota 86 3rd Place
- Bakchis, Aurimas Falken Tires / Drifz Wheels / ARK Performance Nissan 240
- Aasbo, Fredric Rockstar Energy / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla iM
- Coffman, Matt Nexen Tire / Coffman Racing Nissan 240
- Forsberg, Chris NOS Energy Drink / Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z
- Kearney, Dean Oracle Lighting Dodgle Viper
- Gittin, Vaughn Monster Energy / Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR
- Wiecek, Piotr Worthouse Drift Team / Falken Tire Nissan 240
- Gushi, Ken GReddy Racing / Nexen Tire Toyota Racing 86
- Field, Matt Falken Tire / Vapetasia / ARK Performance Nissan 240
- Rintanen, Juha STR Racing / Nexen Tire Nissan 240
- Bluss, Kristaps HGK / Mast / Motul / Wisefab BMW E46
- Pawlak, Justin Roush Performance Ford Mustang
- Essa, Michael Achilles Tire / Essa Autosport BMW M3
2017 Manufacturer Championship Standings After 1 Event
- Toyota 121.00 Points
- Ford 74.00 Points
- Nissan 52.00 Points
- Dodge 51.00 Points
- BMW 35.00 Points
- Infiniti 18.00 Points
2017 Tire Championship Standings After 1 Event
- Falken 174.00 Points
- Nitto 123.00 Points
- Hankook 121.00 Points
- Nexen 104.00 Points
- Achilles 86.00 Points
Photography courtosy of Formula Drift | Larry Chen