Autódromo José Carlos Pace is a legendary race course in motorsports, with prestigious racing drivers like Ayrton Senna and Rubens Barrichello calling it their home track. This past weekend, the virtual representation of Interlagos became the grounds for one of the most ridiculous Esports Drift Association events in recent memory.
The event began with qualifying on Friday, 8th July. Brandon Patrick drove his way to the top spot of qualifying early with a score of 95.8. In normal circumstances, this would be considered an exceptionally great run, but as the day progressed, 36 out of the 66 drivers would qualify with at least 90 points on one of their runs.
Less than six points separated the top of the leaderboard, taken by Joachim Hauge during the broadcast, and the bottom seed in William Holloway.
Bracket eliminations began with high expectations the next day. Next Level Racing Group One kicked things off with VOSAN’s Joachim Hauge taking out Kyle Mohan Racing’s William Holloway, and stomping out the fan-favourite Brazilian Mustang pilot Adriel Machado.
Mustafa Amine quickly put a damper on Hauge’s expectations, however, as the JXTeam driver – who, for those curious, also edits montages for Faze Clan – threw down an exceptionally clean lead and chase run to take the first spot in the Traxion Final Four bracket.
The Brazilian heat at Interlagos never had a chance to die down before MOZA Racing Group Two took to the track. Brandon Gardner and Robert Kwieciński tore through their respective sides of the group with shock and awe; the winner of the 2021 regular season, Zack O’Sullivan found himself knocked out early in competition by Kwieciński.
Gardner and Kwieciński battled for the second spot in the Final Four bracket. Both drivers put on a stellar show for the fans with few mistakes from either driver in both runs, but the edge went in Kwieciński’s favour – earning him the Traxion Final Four spot.
Big Duck Club Group Three saw Nico Stelea finally arrive for competition this season, and he did not disappoint as he took out Artem Chulkov in the first round of the group’s eliminations. Stelea then battled DeSean Hack’s GT-R, but the first pair of runs ended with indecision from the judges.
The drivers were sent back to the starting line to drift around Interlagos’ second sector for another pair of runs. Stelea made heavy contact with Hack, which gave the judges an easy declaration of victory to Hack.
Samuel Kuti attempted to play spoiler to Hack’s attempt to advance, but would ultimately fall short when he rammed into Hack’s rear quarter panel heading into the final corner.
The final spot for the podium clashes came down to 3DRap Group Four. Alexander Element continued his dominance from Long Beach as he battered his way through the competition in his Ferrari 599XX, while Jayden Cathcart swatted away the drivers seeded below him to get to the top eight.
Element and Cathcart would complete a near-perfect first run, but Cathcart’s second run proved virtually fatal in the deceleration zone of the final corner. Unable to lose enough speed before the entry, Cathcart’s GT-R slammed into the Ferrari, dumping both drivers into the wall. Element was given the win and the advancement into the Final Four.
The stage was now set to determine the podium positions for the second round of this season’s competition in the Traxion Final Four. Amine and Kwieciński were first on-track, and did so with ruthless aggression, as the front quarter panel of Amine’s RX-8 tickled the door of Kwieciński’s 370Z.
Fans and judges alike were floored by Amine’s precision and confidence, giving him advancement to the next stage of the competition.
Element and Hack were now up to the plate. The R35 and 599 slid through Interlagos like a hot knife through butter, but the decision would ultimately come down to each driver’s chase runs and their ability to maintain close proximity with the lead driver.
Element’s Ferrari was proving difficult to keep up with during competition, and it was no different in the Final Four. It came down to a matter of less than a foot, but Hack was unable to follow Element as closely as Element had followed him, which gave Element the victory.
Third place would now be decided between Kwieciński and Hack. On the first run, Hack would gently brush Kwieciński’s rear bumper, causing him to drop back and lose speed just before the long straight between Turn 9 and 10.
In the second run, Kwieciński threw down a tremendous chase run by practically magnetizing his door to Hack’s through the first and second outer zones. Kwieciński’s risky aggression paid off in the end, as Hack would once again be defeated by a more aggressive driver.
The battle for the highest places on the podium came down to Amine and Element. Both drivers nailed the first run, but the second round saw contact between Element in the lead and Amine in the chase through the second outer zone. After a long discussion, the judges determined Element to be at fault for excessive speed reduction, giving the win to first-time round winner Mustafa Amine.
Round Three of ESDA’s 2022 season is now set to take place on the weekend of 29th July, starting with qualifying exclusively on the Traxion.GG Twitch channel at 5pm Eastern. The weekend will continue with Top 32 bracket eliminations taking place the next day, on Traxion.GG’s YouTube and Twitch channels at 12pm Eastern.
Images courtesy of Apex Action Photography
ESDA 2022 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
- Alexander Element – 162 points
- Brandon Gardner – 140 points
- Mustafa Amine – 122 points
- Rhys Tatterson – 120 points
- DeSean Hack – 120 points
- Joachim Hauge – 120 points
- Robert Kwieciński – 112 points
- Kawayne Ebanks – 98 points
- Austin Zalewski – 92 points
- Jayden Cathcart – 88 points
ESDA 2022 SEASON CALENDAR
ROUND ONE: 17th-18th June ROUND TWO: 8th-9th July
ROUND THREE: 29th-30th July
ROUND FOUR: 19th-20th August
ROUND FIVE: 9th-10th September
ROUND SIX: 30th September-1st October
ROUND SEVEN: 21st-22nd October