Formula DRIFT returned to Long Beach to host the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge as part of the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The two-night competition saw the second win for Matt Field in the Falken Tire / Vapetasia / ARK Performance Nissan 240 and a first-time win for Forrest Wang in the Get Nuts Lab / Zestino Tires Nissan 240.
The Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge brought drifting under the lights during the Grand Prix of Long Beach within Turns 9, 10, and 11 of the famous street course. Drivers competed on Friday and Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd.
“Drifting at night and under lights truly is a testament of the drivers’ skill,” said Jim Liaw, President of Formula DRIFT. “The drivers really put on a show tonight to close out our fifth consecutive year drifting at night during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.”
On night one of the doubleheader weekend drivers were placed at random into the Top 16 bracket. The Top 4 saw returning Motegi Racing Super Drift winner, Matt Field against Justin Pawlak in the Roush Performance Ford Mustang. Field outdrove his opponent to move into the Finals. Forrest Wang in the Get Nuts Lab Nissan 240 faced off against Alex Heilbrunn in the IMR / Nitto Tire BMW M3. Heilbrunn fresh off his second place finish last weekend at the Formula DRIFT season opener on the same track kept his streak alive taking the win to move into the Finals. Forest Wang finishes in third place. The final battle was dramatic as Heilbrunn and Field collided on the first turn of the first run. Judges deemed fault to Heilbrunn giving Field the advantage. Field, after fixing the significant damage sustained from the run 1 collision kept a clean and safe follow run to take the first victory of the doubleheader.
“We went back to back!” said Matt Field, winner of the Motegi Super Drift Challenge. “There’s day two tomorrow and we’re going to try to win that too. This event was strong and it feels good to get back into a car that’s in working manner after struggling last weekend, but we’re back.”
Night Two of the doubleheader weekend did not disappoint as the drivers put it all on the line for a chance at the prize pool. The Top 4 pitted last night’s runner-up, Alex Heilbrunn in the IMR / Nitto Tire BMW M3 against Dean Kearney, in the Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper. Heilbrunn’s consistency helped put him back into the finals for the second consecutive evening. Jhonnattan Castro in the Gerdau Metaldom / Nexen Toyota GT86 faced off against Forrest Wang in the semi-finals. Wang drove hard all weekend and the plume of smoke from his vehicle on his lead run made him a tough opponent. Castro had difficulty in the chase position, which helped give Wang the win to put him in the Finals. Wang took advantage of car issues that Heilbrunn was experiencing to beat him and take the win while giving Heilbrunn yet another second place finish during the weekend.
“We came. We conquered!” said Forrest Wang, winner of the Motegi Super Drift Challenge. “I’m bummed that we didn’t compete last weekend, but at least I got to drive here in Long Beach this weekend to show people my style.”