Vaughn Gittin finishes 6th at Red Bull World Championship!

Long Beach, Ca., Nov. 15-16, 2008 – This past weekend, Formula Drift, along with Red Bull Energy Drink, held one of the world’s most anticipated drifting events ever – the Red Bull Drifting World Championship. The event brought together 32 of the world’s best drifters from 12 different countries to do battle for the largest drifting prize purse ever offered, $50,000. This event was held on the docks at the Port of Long Beach and included a course that’s unprecedented features tested the limits of the drivers and their cars like never before.

Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his Falken Tire Ford Racing Mustang are not strangers to World Championship success. In 2005, Vaughn made history by becoming the first American to ever beat the Japanese – the founders of drifting – at the D1 Grand Prix USA vs. Japan. And he did it again in 2007 when he won the D1GP World Championship at Irwindale Speedway, maintaining his title as the top-ranked American drifter in the world.

Vaughn was on fire all weekend throughout his practice, coming into the sweeper hot, so close to the wall that he actually scraped it a few times while still maintaining his drift and perfect line. With the performance he was giving the crowd all weekend, it is no wonder Vaughn proved to be a crowd favorite throughout the event.

During qualifying Saturday, Vaughn initiated with an incredible speed of 102.4 MPH and rounded the sweeper inches from the wall, while continuing the course hitting every clipping point and holding his line. Vaughn earned a score of 94.5 for his run, and qualified 7th out of the 32 competing drivers.

Vaughn was set to go against the 26th qualifier, Marcos Santos from Canada, in the battle of the top 32. Unlike normal Formula Drift events, this competition would start tandem with the top 32 drivers, not the top 16 drivers. Vaughn knew he needed to adjust his normal foot-to-the-floor driving style for this battle, as Santos had been entering the course around 12 MPH slower then Vaughn.

In the first pass of the top 32 battle, Vaughn led with a nice early initiation. Santos tried best as he could to stay aggressive and keep up with the Ford Mustang. In the next pass, the drivers switched places as Vaughn followed Santos and stayed on his back bumper all through the course, not letting him create a gap. Vaughn was awarded the win and moved on to the Sweet Sixteen.

In the next round, Vaughn would be matched up with Bill Sherman, an American in the Formula Drift series, and a competitor Vaughn was familiar with as he had beat him at the final round of FD at Irwindale Speedway a month earlier.

Vaughn would lead first as Bill would give chase. Vaughn initiated early and stayed tight on the wall going into the sweeper. In the next pass, Bill led and Vaughn followed while keeping close to the wall and Bill’s back bumper though the sweeper and the S part of the course. The judges called for a “One More Time” as they determined it was too close to call which driver had the clear advantage.

Vaughn led again, flipping his car sideways fast in another amazing initiation, and came into the sweeper wide while staying up on the wall. Vaughn actually kissed the wall, causing his back bumper to let loose, while still maintaining a perfect drift. With Bill leading in the final pass, Vaughn was careful not to let him pull away and to keep his line in order to prove to the judges that he should be the one moving on. He proved successful in just that as he beat Bill and would be moving on to the Great Eight!

In the top eight, Vaughn was matched up with Formula Drift’s 2008 2nd place Champion, Rhys Millen. Vaughn was excited to battle Rhys as he is the only Formula Drift champion Vaughn has never defeated. In the first pass, Rhys led as Vaughn followed coming in at 103.7 MPH, aiming to stick to Rhys and out-drive him. Unfortunately, Vaughn came in a little too hot, and ended up hitting the wall and taking himself out of the event. After the hit, Vaughn hopped out and jumped on the roof of his Ford Mustang to wave to the fans, as the crowd went crazy for him.

Vaughn finished the event in 6th place, respectively. “What an incredible weekend for the sport of drifting,” says Vaughn. “This event has exclamated the worldwide support of this awesome sport. I am extremely proud of how I and Team Falken Tire performed all weekend. We were running flawlessly all weekend. When I lined up against Rhys we had a decision to make, as we knew it was going to be a tough battle to beat his tiny car that had a huge weight advantage. Not to mention that Rhys was the number one qualifier, extremely fast, and on fire all weekend.”

Vaughn continues, “My crew chief Ian and I decided it was all or nothing, and we opted for all. Before we left the line, I vowed to stay on Rhys’s bumper all the way in. I have absolutely no regrets as I am pretty confident that entering that hard was the only way to beat Rhys and unfortunately physics won the fight. Hats off to Rhys for an incredible accomplishment that no one can ever take away. I obviously know exactly how it feels to win an event of this magnitude and I am very happy for him as he worked hard for it and deserved it.”

This was a bittersweet weekend for Vaughn and the Falken Tire team, as this was the last event that Vaughn would be competing with the world-famous Ford Mustang that he has competed with for the last four years. Vaughn will retire this car that has brought him several victories in the past and will be competing in a brand new 2010 Mustang for his 2009 season. Vaughn’s 2010 Mustang will be revealed live on Speed today (November 18th) at 8PM PST/ 11PM EST.

“Thanks again to the Falken Tire team, my crew from ASD, and all of my sponsors for an incredible season,” says Vaughn. “We had some ups and downs and we retired our trusty five-year-old World Championship winning Mustang with style and a bang. I am looking forward to coming out swinging with our new faster and lighter 2010 Falken Tire Ford Mustang!”

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