Formula Drift: Our thoughts at the half way point
James Dean and Piotr Wiecek came in like a wrecking ball. With two twin Nissan S15's These 2 International superstars have show great poise. James Dean landed on the podium two out of 4 events and leads in championship points as well as Piotr Wiecek leading rookie of the year. These guys have raised the bar and we are excited to watch them in the second half of the season,
Denofa made the decision this year to team up with driver Vaughn Gitten Jr. Denofa has been showing amazing promise so far. Long Beach was a sketchy first test for the car since the track is surrounded by walls. Once Denofa was able to stretch his legs in Orlando we got to see the cars real potential. In Atlanta he showed us that the car is super fast and with a bit more practice he was going to dominate. New Jersey was the highlight when Denofa snagged the number one qualifying position and proved that precision was there as well.
source Cheslea Denofa Facebook page
Team Work This year has been the first year that Formula Drift has seen more than a few drivers on a team. This year we have VGJ and Denofa, Coffman and Hohnadell, Forsberg and Tuerck, Piotr and Dean, Team Falken with Field and Bakchis and finally the Papadakis team of Assbo and Castro. So far the teams have seamed to be working well together. Although only a few of them actually share a pit space. I think Denofa will learn valuable lessons from Vaughn and continue to grow as a driver. I think overall the team effort is a good move for the sport. I also think the evolution of teams in Formula Drift were important so that the drivers can share the immense expenses of travel and logistics.
Forsberg Struggles Three Time Formula Drift champ Chris Forsberg has had to revert back to last years drive-train 3 times so far this year. His new Nameless Performance 370Z has taken longer to shake down than they thought and it has cost him dearly. Its debut in New Jersey was impressive but not enough to get past the top 32.
Source Chris Forsberg Facebook page
Gremlins and By-runs
This year has seen more by-runs than any year in Formula Drift History and its not all because of gremlins. Drivers like Kyle Mohan and Jeff Jones have seen their share of gremlins ranging from overheating issues to destroying gears and broken parts. The talent this year is so great that battles are won and lost because of mechanical malfunctions more than ever.
Supercharger VS Turbo
This year was the first time team Jeff Jones Racing has ever run a supercharger vs running a turbo over the last 4 years. Edelbrock and Jones signed a 2 year deal back in May and Jones had 2 weeks to install and tune the unit before long beach round 1 of Formula Drift. Long Beach proved to be a testing nightmare and left Jones riddled with new gremlins. Orlando was another sluggish start but his team started figuring out the car and Jones started reinventing his driving style under the Eforce supercharged power. Atlanta was a wet mess and the car had overheating issues. New Jersey was the first real test of the cars newly bug free system and allowed Jones to see what the car really had. With an 8th place finish in this event its safe to say he's one to watch.
Source Larry Chen
This year has been the best I've ever seen as far as chase runs and proximity from the drivers. Odi's battles in New jersey were unbelievable, Kristaps Bluss and Essa where on point. The talent is really showing itself, the drivers are getting better and better and now the chase runs are more exciting than ever.
Based on what were hearing from Formula Drift the audience has grown tremendously. The live streams are seeing millions of viewers the tracks are sold out and the impressions are higher than ever. Maybe this has to do with the Irish invasion or the new sponsors but its safe to say that if it keeps growing at this rate they will need to get bigger tracks and more media outlets.
This year has also yielded more contact than ever. The driver talent and the massive performance upgrades have led to closer tandems and a lot more contact. The crashes themselves have not been major but the contact has been happening more and more. In New Jersey alone there were several crashes that determined the outcome of the event. For example Nate Hamilton's contact with Rad Dan. The fact that the drivers are now running so close to each other shows that they are also starting to trust each other. A pro driver needs to know that the guy in front of him is going to run flat out without any tricks or stumbles.
The Pro2 season is also at its midpoint. This years talent has shown great promise but from the front of the field to the back there still remains a great difference in talent levels. We have huge expectations for guys like Danny George, Andy Hateley and Josh Robinson since they came from a Pro competition at one point. The big surprise for me was the explosive driving from the points leader Travis Reeder. I expect that by the end of the season we will see Reeder and Robinson on the podium for the pro2 championship. Who will join them, Probably Hateley or George if they can put together a full race.
The Pro championship
The cool thing about this year's championship race is that there is still no clear leader. One bad race for Dean or Good race for Forsberg can change everything. The fans of the championship race have always wanted it this way. The shake up this year is more exciting and it's great to see the guys who have hovered at the top for so long get a reality check.The bar has been raised, who's gonna step up.
I can honestly say that this year has lived up to the hype. The driving is the best I have ever seen. The teams are stronger than ever and the fans are thoroughly entertained. Round 5 Canada is only a few weeks away and we cant wait to see it.
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