Daigo Saito takes the event victory and Michael Essa is crowned 2013 Champion at Final Fight at Irwindale Speedway
Long Beach, Calif. – October 13, 2013 – Formula DRIFT presented by GoPro returned to Irwindale Speedway for the final event of the 2013 season. Daigo Saito in the Achilles Tire / Bridges Racing Lexus SC430 takes the event victory. Michael Essa in the GSR Autosport / Yokohama BMW M3 is crowned champion. Lexus wins the inaugural manufacturer's championship and Hankook Tire wins the tire championship for 2013.
Round 7: Final Fight at Irwindale Speedway was held in front of a sellout crowd and was the largest motorsport event in the venue’s history. The exciting event marked the end of the tenth season for the Series and was also the most attended for the Series with approximately over 20,000 attendees over the two day event.
The action unfolded beginning with Michael Essa, who entered the event with the point lead, earning the number one qualifying position giving him a good position into the Top 32 and advancing into the Top 16 where he was unable to continue in the event with a blown motor. This opened the door for Chris Forsberg in the NOS Energy / Hankook Nissan 370Z, who entered the event in second place in the standings. Essa secured the championship when Forsberg lost to the 2012 champion, Daigo Saito, in the Great 8. This marks the first time a European vehicle has won the Formula DRIFT championship.
“Coming into this event I wanted to prove that this season wasn’t a fluke and sitting on the sideline wasn’t how I wanted the event to go down, but unfortunately that is what happened tonight,” said Michael Essa, 2013 Formula DRIFT champion. “The Formula DRIFT championship has always been my goal and I am extremely excited. There are so many amazing drivers and teams in the Series and being able to just compete with them is an honor. We are hoping to carry this momentum into the next season and earn more wins.”
The consolation round saw Robbie Nishida in the Bridges Racing / Achilles Tire Lexus SC300 against Forrest Wang in the Get Nuts Lab / Achilles Nissan 240SX. Wang got the best of Nishida to earn third place for his first ever Formula DRIFT podium. The final battle pitted Daigo Saito vs Tyler McQuarrie in the Mobil 1 / GoPro Chevrolet Camaro. McQuarrie hit the wall on the second battle to give Saito the event victory.
“To tell the truth I was not really feeling it in practice, but when the battles began and the lights turned on I was able to pull it together when it counted and am happy for the win to end the season,” said Daigo Saito, winner of Round 7: Final Fight. “I had a lot of issues with the car this year and I feel we weren’t able to get the car to the condition I really needed to be more competitive, but coming in third overall is something I am proud and happy about.”
Two new championships were added to the Series that included the tire and manufacturer championship. After seven events for the season, Lexus comes out on top for the inaugural manufacturer championship, while Hankook Tire takes the first tire championship.