Team Falken's Yoshihara is the 2011 Formula Drift Champion
At the final event of an exciting Formula Drift season, Team Falken veteran Daijiro “Dai” Yoshihara, driving the Discount Tire/Falken Tire Nissan 240SX, took his first championship in the Formula Drift series, completing a year which saw either his name or that of his teammate, Justin Pawlak, consistently atop the leader board. Pawlak took second in the championship.
“It’s a great feeling and a dream come true,” said Yoshihara. “After eight years of driving, our efforts finally paid off. I owe a lot to my team and sponsors. My new goal will be to defend the championship in 2012.”
Falken’s Tyler McQuarrie successfully attacked the competition at the “Title Fight” and earned the final win of the season, the fifth victory out of seven for Team Falken in 2011. As a result, McQuarrie moved up to finish sixth in the standings. Teammates Darren McNamara took fourth overall, while defending Formula Drift Champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr. placed 11th.
The final round of the series concluded the most successful season in Formula Drift history. The sold-out crowd eclipsed attendance records for Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, known as “the House of Drift,” and is now the largest event in the history of this popular sport.
“To win at Irwindale is massive for any driver and to do it under the circumstances surrounding this week is incredible,” stated McQuarrie.
The pressure was substantial leading up to Saturday night’s main event. While Falken held onto the top two spots in the championship, a small gap in points separated the top five competitors. The 2011 season turned out to be the closest and most competitive chase for the championship in the history of Formula Drift. In addition to winning the title, Yoshihara also won the Tires.com Triple Crown, marking the first time in the series that a Discount Tire driver took home this prestigious award.
“This has been a great year,” declared Jonathan Bradford, Falken’s Formula Drift Supervisor. “Team Falken faced tough competition at every event – as it always does – both outside our team and frankly, from within. But our team is so solid – the drivers and crew do everything to help each other out – and because we’re all in this together, we were successful in our quest to once again bring one of our team drivers a championship.”
“The battles this year seemed to be that much harder as everyone upped their game,” added Nick Fousekis, Falken’s Director of Motorsports Marketing and Events. “We had to do the same, as we expanded our testing and research and development of our Azenis RT615K tire to make sure we had our team in the position to win every event. We were close to that goal, taking five out of seven, and ultimately defended our championship. It’s great to see Dai at the top, and we have Discount Tire to thank for supporting our efforts, as well as all of our team sponsors. I’m proud of our team’s efforts all season long and know this is a championship we all can enjoy.”
On hand to witness this legendary event within Falken’s hospitality were 465 dealers and retailers, including special guests from Ford Racing, Discount Tire, Monster Energy and Sears Auto Center. In addition, Falken hosted a limited edition T-shirt Giveaway Promotion through Facebook. This online activation added to the excitement of the fans’ interaction during the event, as the beautiful Falken Spokesmodels distributed Falken swag throughout the day and evening.