The step into the 2014 Formula Drift season has been no easy or cheap task. With even more dedication to a top notch chassis build and time to test/ tweak a new chassis shall never be underestimated. With missing Long Beach back in April our focus was shifted towards the remainder Pro 1 rounds and also Pro2 now even more seriously. With the addition of Pro2 it really made a great show and more so track experience for us the drivers on track. Most of the Pro2 field is made up of the bottom 32 Pro1 bracket and also some dedicated drivers that are solely competing in Pro2.
The inaugural round of Pro2 in Miami yielded tons of track time and we loved it. The track flowed good and every lap was another one for the books as we gained more and more data on ourselves and opponents. With paid practice for Pro1 and then practice/qualifying for Pro2 there was no excuse to have the line down, and with that qualified 4th overall. For Fridays competition it meant I would face Doug Van Den Brink who was driving a borrowed E46 from Chelsea Denofa. He faced many mechanical problems and wasn’t able to make it to the line. My second round pairing would be Nate Hamilton. we had qualified close to each other but hadn’t practiced together and this showed when the lights went out and I got walked at the line. He had approximately 3-4 cars on me by initiation. This gap was to large for me to make up within my lead run and I lost in the great 8.
Sitting 5th overall going into Seattle was a good feeling. But yet again with another new track and setup changes we had learned we made short work of the qualifying. With a 2nd place run just getting nudged out of first by Jeremy Lowe we were satisfied and had to lead Mike Phillips as our first pair. Mike was a local to Seattle and even hosts the drift events there at Evergreen, he knew this track.
Luckily, the Sikky Crew had the car set up better than ever and I was able to gap him largely on the bank and run the nice high qualifying line, and on the follow lap maintaining proximity and running on his rear 1/4 panel when available, easily getting the win. Round two would be against the BMW of Andrew Hateley who was on fire this event and was really standing out. On my lead lap I could hear him behind me on the bank but on the infield transfer he broke an axle and wasn’t able to repair it for his lead.
Moving onto the final four. Team mate James Evans was to follow me into the bank, I clutch kicked and he ebraked. Boom he left the door open. Through the infield transition and then approaching the exit is when he made his attempt to close the door and narrowly missed contact at last clip getting the crowd on their feet. Knowing that he wouldn’t play any games against me and knowing that we were both having a blast I followed him out and forgot he ebrake initiated and after clutch kicking almost into his door had to slow the car down and regain attack mode on him. Through the infield transfer and power alley he ran a wide line towards inner clip one and I positioned my car parallel to his to race towards the clip then jabbed ebrake to transfer around finishing approximately 1 car length behind. In my head I knew I had won, and the unanimous decision was given to me.
Final match, For the top spot on the podium…. Matched against Jeff Jones, in my eyes a Formula Drift veteran and he was on scrub tires, I had just mounted another set of Achilles 123S and was ready to attack. My lead run left him in the dust, he tried to shallow attack but with using my grip pulled away was easy. Large advantage me. For his lead he called 5min to put on yet another set of scrubs that were just slightly better than what he took off, on the bank his turbo v8 sounded good but he clearly lacked grip and at inner clip one he over-rotated and spun out. I WON.
Being how Formula Drift is acknowledging the growth of new drivers with Pro 2 I couldn’t be happier with my performance with it. Yes, at the same time I wish I could be climbing up the ranks in Pro1 but we still are learning how to make this car react even faster and even more precise to make sure we can compete with the top ranked drivers. Being tied with Geoff Stoneback for first place in the Pro2 Championship and who is also an East Coast driver and someone representing for Sikky Manufacturing is awesome. I cannot wait to see how the rest of the season will pan out for us as we continue to feed off each others results and performances. Bring it on!