Triumph Amidst Trials: James Deane's Victory at Formula Drift Long Beach

Triumph Amidst Trials: James Deane's Victory at Formula Drift Long Beach

The first round of the Formula Drift season in Long Beach, California, brought not just high-speed thrills but also heart-stopping challenges. Among the roaring engines and screeching tires, the story of James Deane and the RTR Drift Team stood out as a testament to resilience and tenacity. This recount delves into the remarkable journey of Deane and his team as they navigated through a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to claim victory.

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The Phoenix Rises

James Deane’s Fiery Challenge

The event was off to a dramatic start when James Deane’s 2024 Mustang RTR Spec 5-FD caught fire during media day. This incident could have spelled disaster, but it became a galvanizing moment for the Team.

RTR staff members and logistics coordinators booked plane tickets to fly essential parts from the RTR Lab in Charlotte directly to the pits in Long Beach. With everyone working tirelessly around the clock and with relentless determination, James’ Mustang RTR Spec 5-FD was rebuilt and ready for him to go to battle on Saturday for the Top 32! 

We’d like to give a huge shout-out to Dean Kearney for offering up his garage and tools to allow us to rebuild James’ car. Also thank you to Anderson Composites for the carbon fiber hood! 

Rising Above Adversity

The RTR Team's Herculean Efforts

The challenges didn't stop at the fire. Ben Hobson faced his own trials when he crashed his Mustang RTR into the wall mere hours before the seeding bracket was set to begin. The Team, already stretched thin, rallied to repair his vehicle in record time.

However, fate dealt another blow when Hobson's throttle cable snapped during his seeding bracket run against Federico Scerrifo. With only 5 minutes to complete the repair, the team managed to reassemble the car within 4 minutes and 55 seconds on the clock but it failed to start within the critical 5-minute competition timeout window, eliminating Hobson from the competition. This setback, however, did not dampen the teams' spirit but rather fueled their determination to get James on the podium.

Battling The Elements

Rain, Rivals, and Resilience

James was set to battle Federico Scerrifo in the Top 32 battle. He would beat Federico and advance to the Top 16 where he would face off with Jonathan Hurst. 

Top 16 kicked off against Hurst where the judges would decide on a 2-1 one more time. On the OMT run with Hurst, the judges unanimously decided that they needed to go one more time again! 

As if mechanical failures and fiery mishaps weren't enough, nature threw its hat into the ring. Rain began to pour during Deane's THIRD One More Time top 16 battle against Jonathan Hurst and didn't let up, adding a slippery challenge to the already tense competitions. 

Despite the inclement weather and fierce competitors, Deane pushed through, showcasing his unparalleled skill and focus, attributes that have defined his career. With a combined 6 Formula Drift Championships shared between the two drivers, James would go up against Frederic Aasbo in the Great 8 battle where they would end up going at it again with a one more time battle. The judges voted unanimously that James would advance to the Top 4! 

Odi Bakchis would lead James for the first portion of their Top 4 battle. James Deane’s lead run was the determining factor that would place him up for the final battle with Simen Olsen.

Victory at Last

James Deane’s First 1st Place Podium with RTR Drift Team

Against all odds, James Deane reached the final battle, facing off against Simen Olsen. In a display of masterful driving that only a seasoned drifter like Deane could deliver, he clinched his first victory since joining the RTR Drift Team. This win was not just a personal triumph but a victory for the entire team, whose efforts behind the scenes were as critical as Deane's performance on the track.

James Deane on podium after winning at FD Long Beach 2024

Round 2 at Road Atlanta

Here We Come! 

Reflecting on the event, James Deane expressed gratitude and awe at his team’s perseverance, stating, "This victory is one of the most emotional wins since his last win in Long Beach.” The win James is referencing was his first-ever win in the Formula Drift Pro Championship back in 2017. The team's morale is sky-high, and their sights are firmly set on Round 2 in Atlanta, GA.

Mustang Unleashed

The Mustang Unleashed tour kicked off at Formula Drift Long Beach with a festival vibe, spanning 12 cities across America. This tour features experiences like hot laps, line lock demos, and vehicle walkarounds, and will make appearances at major gatherings such as Formula Drift Road Atlanta and ComplexCon in Las Vegas. Joe Bellino, the Mustang Brand Manager, emphasized the tour's aim to enhance Mustang's accessibility and connect with new customers through interactive experiences. At select events, attendees can witness Mustang's performance capabilities firsthand and explore customization options in the Mustang Garage. Mustang Unleashed Tour registration is now open for 2024 Mustang owners and at-event sign-ups for the public. Shoutout to Jim Vreeland Ford for bringing a Mustang RTR Spec 2 for the display at Round 1 of Formula Drift. 

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