Team FALKEN Earns Third at Long Beach 2018 Formula D Opener
LONG BEACH, CA – Team Falken celebrated with a third place podium finish for Piotr Wiecek Saturday night at the 2018 Black Magic Formula Drift season opener held on the streets of Long Beach. Wiecek, who qualified first, had a strong car all night, but succumbed to eventual race winner Fredric Aasbo. Formula D Defending Champion and Falken Tires teammate James Deane qualified second and ultimately finished fourth during an extremely competitive night. Five Team Falken drivers finished in the Top 10 for the evening and in the current standings after one round.
Formula Drift proved that its draw as a spectator sport continues to grow as Saturday night saw the largest attendance ever recorded at FD Long Beach. The fans were treated to the debut of Team Falken veteran Justin Pawlak’s 2018 Ford Mustang in new Falken livery, as well as teammate Matt Field’s Chevrolet C6 Corvette also dressed in the brand’s familiar teal and blue colors.
“It was an important event for Falken Tires,” stated Jonathon Bradford, Falken’s Motorsports and Events Manager. “We had a great crowd and they were able to connect with our drivers during the autograph session, which is such a good experience for everyone. We’ve got a very strong team and though our competition has ‘upped’ its game, we’re happy with a podium from our home track and a celebration for Piotr. We’ll move forward in great shape for Orlando.”
Qualifying started off well with Wiecek and Deane one and two, followed by Pawlak in 4th, Field in 7th, Daijiro “Dai” Yoshihara in 9th, Odi Bakchis in 13th, with Ken Gushi in 17th and team newcomer Jeff Jones in 26th. “The tough city streets of Long Beach can be unpredictable,” stated Steve Wong, Falken’s Supervisor of Passenger Car Motorsports & Events, “but never count Team Falken out.
“We have made a big commitment this year – with our eight-car operation – and this strength in numbers will pay off with big dividends throughout the season,” Wong continued. “Our Falken Azenis RT615K+ tire has clearly demonstrated its winning capabilities with last year’s driver’s and tire championships, and we are determined to bring those two trophies home again this season.”
Now in its 15th year, the 2018 Black Magic Formula Drift Pro Championship Series will head to Orlando Speed World in Orlando, FL, for a “scorching” Round 2. The track will challenge even the most seasoned veterans when the action takes place on April 27-28.