Texas Motor Speedway
Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas — Monday, September 16, 2013
The team from Achilles Motorsports rolled into Texas Motor Speedway in hot and humid Fort Worth last weekend for the inaugural Formula Drift event at the famed NASCAR track.
September 16, 2013 - Santa Clarita, Calif. – The team from Achilles Motorsports rolled into Texas Motor Speedway in hot and humid Fort Worth last weekend for the inaugural Formula Drift event at the famed NASCAR track. The weekend would prove to be one of the most highly protested in Formula Drift history with several calls questioned and two results overturned upon review.
The team of Daigo Saito and Robbie Nishida qualified in 22nd and 28th position respectively. This paired Daigo with Matt Powers and Robbie with Aurimas "Odi" Bakchis in the Top 32. First up was the tandem battle of Nishida and Bakchis – a battle that would ultimately become one of the most discussed of the event. Both drivers laid down a solid first run, with Robbie applying a lot of pressure as he followed Odi through the long, fast track. During Robbie's lead run, he went one wheel off course and hit a clipping point and Odi went two wheels off – making the run a double zero. The win was given to Robbie because of his high-pressure follow run. Robbie rolled back to the paddock for the halftime break and opening ceremonies. In what would become the first of two calls reversed after a protest, Robbie's win was changed to a One More Time after the Formula Drift judges reviewed tape and found that the follow run by Odi should not have been given a zero. The two drivers would meet again after opening ceremonies but before the Top 16 could begin to settle the issue once and for all.
Robbie lined up against Bakchis for the rematch determined to leave no question about who was the victor – and didn't disappoint fans as he threw it all out there for both runs. The victory against Bakchis firmly in place, Robbie prepared to face Danny George in Top 16. Robbie's fast car and aggressive style were too much for the V8-powered Miata, and the victory put Robbie in the Great 8 where he would meet Matt Field. Robbie was on fire during Field's lead run, putting constant pressure on Matt through the entire course. Robbie's lead run almost immediately involved contact between the two vehicles at the point where Nishida initiated the first drift. The Formula Drift judges deemed Robbie at fault for the contact, which gave him a zero and the round to Field.
The battle between Powers and Saito was decided by a tiny correction at the tail end of Daigo's follow run. An issue with the car caused the champion to momentarily straighten the tires, which was deemed a zero by the judges. Even though his lead run was flawless, with Saito leaving Powers several car-lengths behind, the zero from the first run was too much to overcome. Saito gracefully bowed out of the event in Top 32 and immediately began preparing for the Final Fight in a few weeks.
Daigo Saito currently sits in fifth place in points, with Robbie Nishida holding tight to the 10th spot. Irwindale is an event where anything can happen so both drivers head into the final event with a podium finish for both and possible championship for Saito in mind.