Weather conditions were nearly perfect all weekend, enthusiastic Formula DRIFT fans filled the grandstands amidst the stoic backdrop of downtown Long Beach and GT Radial was there to capture all of the excitement. Below is an awesome video that documents the new GT Radial drift team’s inaugural Formula DRIFT competition.
GT Radial’s newest Formula DRIFT driver Kyle Mohan earned the tire manufacturer its first appearance in the series’ main competition at the season opener in Long Beach, CA, April 4-5.
The challenging Streets of Long Beach circuit was the first test for GT Radial since announcing its participation in the Formula DRIFT competition, as well as for Mohan’s re-engineered Mazda RX-8. The turbocharged Mazda RX-8 features numerous suspension upgrades as well as a Mazdatrix-built 20B, three-rotor engine for the 2014 racing season.
Mohan qualified into the top 32 with a score of 79. His qualifying position put him against Robbie Nishida in the first round battle.
After a strong lead run by Mohan, he made heavy contact with a tire barrier in front of the judges’ stand, but Nishida also made a mistake and spun. With both drivers failing to score points on the second run, Mohan advanced to the main competition as one of the top 16 qualifying drivers on the strength of his lead run.
While the car was badly damaged, the KMR (Kyle Mohan Racing) team was able to make repairs and have the GT Radial/Energy-X/Mazdatrix Mazda RX-8 ready for opening ceremonies and Mohan’s top-16 battle with Kenny Moen. Moen was able to establish a gap during his lead run, and the judges advanced him to the next round.
“Having the crash wasn’t how we wanted to start the season, but it’s a testament to all of the guys at KMR that the car was fixed and able to compete in the top 16,” Mohan said. “I wanted to start the season off on the right foot and give GT Radial a solid start to the year. Making the top 16 was what we needed. Now we’ll go to work and make the car ready for Atlanta.”
An eight-year veteran of Formula DRIFT, Mohan competes in the Formula DRIFT Pro Championship in the no. 99 GT Radial/Energy-X/Mazdatrix Mazda RX-8 with support from GT Radial, Energy-X, Mazdatrix, and Mazda USA. More information can be found at www.kylemohanracing.com.
GT Radial’s other driver, Formula DRIFT rookie Tyler Wolfson, experienced problems with the steering column in his Mazda RX-7 that prevented him from qualifying.
Wolfson was encouraged, however, by the performance of his Champiro SX2 tires in the practice rounds and is anxious to get the steering issues resolved for the next Formula DRIFT event at Road Atlanta on May 9-10.
“Our GT Radial SX2 tires performed even better than expected thanks to a lighter car and smaller wheel width this year,” Wolfson said. “And we certainly got the attention of fellow drivers as well as many fans.”
This is Wolfson’s rookie season in Formula DRIFT following back to back feeder series championship wins on GT Radial tires. Wolfson and his GT Radial/SAE Motorsport Mazda RX-7 will be competing in the full seven-event calendar of the Formula DRIFT Pro Championship, as well as the four-event calendar of the Formula DRIFT Pro2 Series.
An extreme performance summer tire, the Champiro SX2 was introduced recently to North America for driving enthusiasts who want higher levels of traction, response and driving control in dry and wet conditions. An outstanding performer on the street and the track, the Champiro SX2 has already experienced considerable success in Formula DRIFT Asia, with drivers such as Josh Boettcher from Australia who placed 3rd overall in the 2013 championship. The GT Radial teams in Formula DRIFT are certainly encouraged by the Champiro SX2’s performance at Long Beach and are looking forward to the next event at Road Atlanta.
Entering its eleventh season, Formula DRIFT is recognized as the North American professional drifting championship. Established on the streets of Japan, drifting has evolved into a worldwide competitive sport that challenges each driver’s driving ability and vehicle control. Formula DRIFT provides a forum for professional drifters to compete nationwide for the coveted Formula DRIFT Championship crown. As the first official series in North America, Formula DRIFT has taken competitive motorsports to the extreme, attracting fans and car enthusiasts from all walks of life and establishes itself as the world-wide leader for the sport. For a competition schedule and ticket information, visit www.formulad.com.