LONG BEACH, CA – The inaugural event in the 2009 Formula Drift season began on the famed street course of Long Beach where Team Falken faced a very competitive field of works drivers and privateers and successfully qualified eight cars in the top 32 tandem competition, a new component to Formula D this season.
This is the 4th year Formula Drift has competed on the tough track that was previously the domain of open wheel racing. However, the increasing popularity of drifting, especially in Southern California, has prompted its addition to the track for a dedicated weekend. It also was the perfect location for Team Falken to debut its new team which consists of veteran member Vaughn Gittin, Jr., driving his brand new 2010 Ford Mustang; Daijiro Yoshihara in his Discount Tire Lexus IS350; Tyler McQuarrie with his Nissan 350Z Convertible; Calvin Wan, competing in a Nissan S15 Silvia; and Darren McNamara, returning in his Sears Auto Center Saturn Sky.
“Considering four out of our five team vehicles are completely new builds to our team, we had a very successful first showing,” declared Nick Fousekis, Senior Consumer Marketing Manager, Falken Tire. “This accomplishment truly is a testament to our drivers’ skill, our vehicle builders’ capabilities, the Azenis RT615s’ performance and Falken’s dedication to the sport of drifting.”
After the final session, overall standings had Gittin, Jr., tied for 6th; McNamara stood in 10th; Yoshihara finished at 18th; and McQuarrie tied with his Falken teammate Wan in 19th. All Team Falken drivers used the lightweight and high-gripping Azenis RT615 line.
“This was a great start for our expanded program as we launched our new consumer activation area and our VIP hospitality tent,” stated Andrew Hoit, Director of Marketing, Falken Tire. “We rolled out our new display, which was the largest in the pit area, underscoring our commitment to Formula Drift. And while we would have liked to have taken the top rungs of the Long Beach competition, we are confident we will in the very near future.”
Additionally, results of privateers competing on Falken Tires included Taka Aono, Toyota Corolla; 5th; and Ross Petty, Nissan S15 Silvia, who also tied for 19th, along with John Russakoff, in a Toyota Corolla.
Among the action over the two days, McNamara lost a hard fought top 16 battle to Tony Brakohiapa, and Gittin, Jr., endured a tough tandem match against eventual second-place finisher Samuel Hubinette in the Great 8 session.
To kick off Falken’s comprehensive marketing program tied to its expanded motorsports efforts, “Dai” Yoshihara helped give away a special Falken-America’s Tire guitar to James Warner, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in San Diego. Additional promotional items were handed out by Falken’s new group of Spokesmodels who attracted a large crowd throughout the two-day event. Guests of Falken were treated to the company’s new hospitality section.
The full complement of activation area, hospitality rig and factory support will travel to all seven rounds this year. Team Falken will next compete in Formula D on the proving ground at Road Atlanta, May 8-9. Prior to Round 2, rigorous vehicle testing will take place for all Team Falken drivers.
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