Team FALKEN Stands Ready to Defend Formula Drift Crown With Full Complement of Eight Drivers for 2018
RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA – With a little less than two weeks before the start of the 2018 Black Magic Formula Drift Championship, Team Falken – still reveling in its domination of the 2017 season, which earned a driver’s championship for one of its drivers, Formula D rookie James Deane, and the Tire Manufacturer Cup title for the tire brand – will field a total of eight teams in pursuit of a fourth crown.
A leader in high performance tire technology for cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers, Falken Tires has consistently seen its AZENIS RT615K+ tires perform flawlessly on the contrasting surfaces that make up the Formula Drift season, from street courses to ovals to road racing tracks.
For the 2018 season, Team Falken will welcome back its six current teammates, starting with Irishman James Deane, who will defend his 2017 Formula D Championship behind the wheel of his Nissan S15. Though Deane was new to drifting in the U.S. last year, he is both an Irish and European champion many times over. Deane won four events in 2017 on his way to the top of the points standings.
Piotr Wiecek also will return, driving his Nissan S15, having earned the 2017 Rookie of the Year honors in Formula Drift, based on his electric performances throughout the season and year-end victory at Irwindale Speedway, the “House of Drift.”
Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis will be back, as well, carrying Falken’s traditional livery on his teal and blue Nissan 240SX. Bakchis placed third in last year’s final standings, having earned a victory in Round 4 at New Jersey, along with strong finishes throughout the season.
Flanking these strong competitors will be a trio of Team Falken veterans – Daijiro “Dai” Yoshihara, the 2011 Formula D champion, driving his Subaru BRZ; Justin “JTP” Pawlak, in his Falken teal and blue 2018 Mustang GT; and Matt Field, in his newly built Falken teal and blue Chevrolet Corvette.
Also joining for their inaugural year with Team Falken are the Team GReddy entry of Kenshiro “Ken” Gushi and his Toyota GT86 and 10-year Formula D veteran Jeff Jones. Gushi has been competing in Formula Drift for many years and will bring his experience and wisdom to the Team Falken stable, as will Native Californian Jones, who will debut a Nissan 370Z for 2018. Jones received the Most Improved Driver Award in the pro ranks following the 2017 Formula Drift season.
“Clearly, we believe we have the strongest and most capable driver line-up who together will propel Team Falken again to victory,” declared Jonathon Bradford, Falken’s Manager of Motorsports and Events. “We have two champions within our team, and a truckload of victories among all. We’re confident the ‘Elite Eight’ are committed to adding to those trophies and bringing home another championship.”
“It would be one thing to stand back and reflect on what Team Falken accomplished last year,” noted Steve Wong, Falken’s Supervisor of Passenger Car Motorsports and Events, “but we simply aren’t that type of team. Every year is a fresh start. We’re fortunate to have everyone back and with the addition of Team GReddy and Ken Gushi, and most recently, signing Jeff Jones, we’ve got a strong alliance of drift veterans ready to go. We’ve already started practicing and preparing, because that’s what we’ll need to do consistently in order to keep winning.”
Just like last year, all Team Falken drivers will of course be running Falken AZENIS RT615K+ tires.
Formula Drift will start its 15th season on the Streets of Long Beach, Round 1, April 6-7, 2018.