Team Falken Takes A Pair Of ‘Silvers’
Justin Pawlak earns second at Formula Drift’s ‘Title Fight’ while teammate Vaughn Gittin, Jr., scores second in the Driver’s Championship
The true competitive spirit of Formula Drift came through at the season finale “Title Fight” held in Southern California’s “House of Drift,” Irwindale Speedway, when a hard fought event saw Team Falken’s Vaughn Gittin, Jr., yield to second place in this year’s Driver’s Championship, while teammate Justin Pawlak, also a contender for the overall win, earned second place in the night’s final round, losing to the 2012 champion, Daigo Saito.
“It was a tough season, for sure,” stated Gittin, Jr., who drove the Monster Energy/Falken Tire Ford Mustang “I went into the night with 473 points, 25½ points ahead of Saito, which isn’t much. I wanted this championship, but just came up a bit short. It’s disappointing, but Falken, Ford, Monster Energy and my team stood by me this race and all season long. I’m very proud of all of them and proud to earn second place in the final driver standings.”
A capacity crowd witnessed some of the most exciting drifting all season and shouted out its appreciation for the close contacts and precision driving. Pawlak, piloting the Falken Tire Ford Mustang, qualified second, while Gittin, Jr., was in 9th, with teammates Daijiro Yoshihara in 17th and Darren McNamara in 30th. Both Gittin, Jr., and Pawlak advanced to the Top 16. However, after a lengthy “half-time,” Gittin, Jr., was defeated by Pat Mordaunt while Pawlak advanced to after defeating Ryan Tuerck in a “one more time” demanded by the spectators. Competitor Saito took the win in the final round. Pawlak ended up in 4th in the 2012 Driver Championship while Defending Formula D Champion “Dai” Yoshihara finished in seventh.
“This was an exciting year and we knew our competition was coming at us,” said Jonathan Bradford, Falken’s Drift Supervisor. “Still, we ran strong, our Azenis RT615K tires were as flawless as always, and we placed two of our four drivers in the top five in the final standings. I’ll take it and we’ll spend the off-season putting that much more of an effort preparing for next year.’
“We were consistent all year long,” added Nick Fousekis, Falken’s Director of Motorsports Marketing and Events. “JR [Gittin, Jr.] and Justin each took two wins this season out of a total of seven events. JR lost the championship by 19½ points. It was a close fight all year long, and we knew it was that way going into Irwindale. We congratulate all our drivers on their solid efforts this season and we’ll build our momentum for next year right now.”
Fresh from relocating to a brand new headquarters in Rancho Cucumonga, a suburb of San Bernardino, many Falken employees and their families attended the event, as Falken Tire hosted 470 guests at its track hospitality and gave away a number of prizes through its association with HPI Racing.