Oliver Petalver, Formula DRIFT Photojournalist
Yoshihara crowned 2011 champion
The final round of the Formula DRIFT series ended up at Irwindale Speedway a.k.a “The House of Drift.” The sold-out crowd witnessed the closest and most competitive championship ever as Japanese drifter Daijiro Yoshihara narrowly won the 2011 championship piloting the Discount Tire/Falken Tire Nissan S13. After 8 years of professional drifting, a championship was finally in his hands.
“My new goal will be to defend the championship and win it outright during the event,” said Daijiro Yoshihara, 2011 Formula DRIFT champion.
The event was won by Tyler McQuarrie in the Falken Tire Nissan 350Z placing him in fifth place overall for the season. The event was the biggest and most dramatic for Formula DRIFT to date as it was a nail biter until the Final Four.
A total of five competitors entered the final round with only 52 points between them. Points leader, Daijiro Yoshihara, was taken out during the Top 16 leaving the door wide open for Justin “JTP” Pawlak (Falken Tire Ford Mustang), Darren “D-Mac” McNamara (Falken Tire Saturn Sky) and Chris Forsberg (NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z).
There were more surprises as Justin Pawlak was taken out by Darren McNamara, during the Great 8, thus moving him to the Final Four. On the other end, Chris Forsberg made it to the Final Four as well. This meant that an event victory for either one would lead to the 2011 Formula DRIFT championship. But two experienced drivers in Rhys Millen (Red Bull/Hankook Tires Hyundai Genesis) and Tyler McQuarrie stood in their way.
Millen ended Forsberg’s hope of taking the championship while McQuarrie ended McNamara’s chances as well, leaving Daijiro Yoshihara to take the win by only six points over Justin Pawlak.
With the 2011 Formula DRIFT season over, many changes will be in effect. Will we see drivers switch teams? Or will we see brand new machines? Stay tuned as we’ll keep you updated during the off-season. The next event will be held in April 2012 in the streets of Long Beach, CA.
For more information on the series, please visit Formula DRIFT