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.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

 

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

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.