Chris Forsberg wins season-opening Formula DRIFT event in Long Beach

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Chris Forsberg took home top honors this weekend in the season-opening Formula DRIFT Round 1: Streets of Long Beach event.

Forsberg and his Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z paced the field, earning a stout 104.0 points.

“It feels amazing to be on top of the podium, especially here at the first round of the eleventh season of Formula DRIFT,” Forsberg said. “We will try to keep the momentum with our new changes and take the championship home.”

Norway’s Kenneth Moen was second in his Bridges Racing Nissan 240SX.

Top qualifier and 2013 series champion Michael Essa was third in his Essa Autosport/Yokohama BMW M3.

The event, held Friday and Saturday, kicked off the seven-round series, which is now in its 11th season. Race organizers said a sellout crowd of more than 20,000 attended.

Formula DRIFT will once again have all of its races televised on the NBC Sports Network. Airing time for this weekend’s event will be July 27 (2:30 pm ET), July 29 (4:30 pm), August 3 (1 pm) and August 5 (4:30). For the full NBCSN telecast of Formula DRIFT events, click here.

Round 2: Road to the Championship takes place in Braselton, Ga., on May 9 and 10.

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Round 1: Streets of Long Beach Event Results

1. Chris Forsberg, Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z Winner

2. Kenneth Moen, Bridges Racing Nissan 240SX 2nd Place

3. Michael Essa, Essa Autosport / Yokohama BMW M3 3rd Place

 

Formula DRIFT Professional Championship Presented by GoPro 2014 Standings After One Round

1. Chris Forsberg, Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z 104.50 Points

2. Kenneth Moen, Bridges Racing Nissan 240SX 84.50 Points

3. Michael Essa, Essa Autosport/Yokohama BMW M3 74.00 Points

4. Justin Pawlak, Falken Tire Ford Mustang 68.50 Points

5. Fredric Aasbo, Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC 52.50 Points

6. Forrest Wang, Get Nuts Lab / Hankook Tire / STR Racing Nissan S14 51.00 Points

7. Aurimas Bakchis, Feal Suspension / Nitto Tire Nissan 240SX 51.00 Points

8. Darren McNamara, Falken Tire Nissan S14 51.00 Points

9. Vaughn Gittin Jr., Monster Energy / Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR 39.50 Points

10. Tyler McQuarrie, GoPro Mobil 1Chevrolet Camaro 38.00 Points

11. Pat Goodin, Enjuku Racing Nissan 240SX 35.00 Points

12. Ryan Tuerck, Retaks Maxxis Tires Air Force PSI Scion FR-S 35.00 Points

12. Conrad Grunewald, Megan Racing / Top 1 Oil / BRE Chevrolet Camaro 35.00 Points

13. Kyle Mohan, GT Radial Energy-X Mazdatrix RX-8 35.00 Points

15. Mats Baribeau, Gold in the Net Toyota Mark II 33.50 Points

16. Dennis Mertzanis, Hyundai Genesis Legato AR1 33.50 Points

 

Manufacturers Championship Standings After One Round

1. Nissan      122.00 Points

2. Ford      108.00 Points

3. BMW      94.50 Points

4. Scion      87.50 Points

5. Chevrolet      73.00 Points

6. Lexus      35.00 Points

6. Mazda      35.00 Points

8. Toyota      33.50 Points

9. Hyundai      19.00 Points

10. Dodge      17.50 Points

 

Tire Championship Standings After One Round

1. Hankook      157.00 Points

2. Falken      119.50 Points

3. Achilles      102.00 Points

4. Nitto      90.50 Points

5. Yokohama      74.00 Points

6. Kenda      52.50 Points

7. GT Radial      35.00 Points

7. Maxxis      35.00 Points

IMSA: Sebring Day 2 of two-day test notebook

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Testing across several IMSA sanctioned series continued at Sebring International Raceway on Tuesday as preparations continue for next month’s events during the weekend of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring.

Below are highlights from Day 2 of testing around the 3.74-mile road course.

Eurosport Racing Continues Work with Mazda Prototype Challenge Chassis

Teams in the Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda championship completed their second day of testing on Tuesday. Among them, Eurosport Racing continued their work with the only Mazda Prototype Challenge (MPC) entries in the field, in the hands of drivers Dr. Tim George (in the No. 24 entry) and Jon Brownson (in the No. 34).

“Right now, I’m driving by myself so we’re trying to make the car comfortable enough to last an hour and 45 minutes with just me in the car,” George said of their preparation efforts. “We’re trying to set up the car where it’s quick, yet it and can last, both the car and for me to make sure we don’t tire out, get fatigued and make mistakes.”

The 1 hour 45 minute window that George referenced represents the race times for the 2018 season, up considerably from last year’s sprint format that featured a pair of 45-minute races across a race weekend.

Though that change represents a drastic shift in driving philosophy, it is one that George welcomes.

“The new rules for the endurance races are great, I enjoy it a lot,” said George. “It gives you a chance to think through things differently with strategy. It also gives you a chance if you blow it…in a sprint race if you make a mistake you don’t get a chance to come back.”

Florida Drivers in Continental Tire Challenge Eager for Hometown Race at Sebring

A strong contingent of drivers from Florida are represented in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, and next month’s 12 Hours of Sebring weekend will see them compete on home soil.

“I grew up in Tallahassee and I live in Orlando now, so Sebring has been my home track since day one,” said Paul Holton, driver of the No. 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, which finished 14th at the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. “I’ve spent a lot of time down here and really enjoy the place. It’s a nice, quaint little town not far from Orlando so it’s a quick, easy drive down for me.”

Fellow Floridian Ramin Abdolvahabi, a native of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and driver of the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage, revealed that, even though Sebring is only two hours from his hometown, this week’s test was his first time at the track in two years.

“I haven’t been here for two years, so coming back is like coming home,” he said. “It’s a fantastic track and it’s one of the iconic tracks in the world so being at Sebring – a small town, my hometown, welcoming – it’s fantastic. I went on the track a couple of times yesterday and it’s just like wearing an old shoe, it just fits and it’s fantastic. Hopefully, the race will go well and the weather will hold, so anyone who’s out there, come and see us!”

Frank Raso Trades in Airplanes for Porsches at Sebring

Several IMSA drivers boast “day jobs” outside of their racing gigs. Among them, Frank Raso’s work falls outside of ordinary jobs like doctor or lawyer. Rather, Raso flies airplanes for a living.

“I’m an airline pilot for a major airline,” said Raso, who tested the No. 10 Topp Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at Sebring. “I’ve been flying for almost 30 years, and it’s allowed me, with all my time off and things like that to do this and fall back into racing again. I messed with it a little bit when I was younger, but it was, of course, expensive, so I got away from it for a while. I decided I wanted to get back into it in kind of my last couple of years before I get too old.”

Raso explained that the skills he practices while flying planes are more than transferable to his driving duties in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

“Flying an airliner or flying any airplane, we have checklists, but everything is kind of done in order. It’s almost in a robot fashion type of a thing where you do this, you do this, you do this and you have to make sure you hit all your marks and fly the airplane with precision.

“So, when you get in these Cup cars, with no anti-lock brakes, no traction control, and no driver assist items, you have to make sure you hit your marks, when you’re accelerating, when you’re turning in. You have to be alert. It keeps your wits about you. The car can step out at any time. They’re a very difficult car to drive, but they’re a lot of fun.”
The 54-year-old Raso posted a best finish of fourth, on four separate occasions, in a part-time schedule during the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season as a competitor in the Gold Cup class.
Newcomers Get Taste of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge
A number of new drivers got to sample Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge cars during the two days of testing at Sebring. Among them was amateur racer Scott Welham, who got his first taste of professional racing during the two-day outing at Sebring.
And he had a strong support system backing him up in the Kelly-Moss Road and Race team, the defending Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge champions with driver Jake Eidson.
“Here, you’ve got somebody that actually does coaching, data acquisition, track management – these are all separate people – plant manager, owner, a car-setup guy, you’ve got someone that bills you – which isn’t always a good thing, but you know, you just have that huge, huge support group that enables you to focus on driving,” Welham said of the team’s influence on his development over the two days.
IMSA’s next visit to Sebring will be for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.