This is a guest post by Formula Drift judge Ryan Lanteigne which includes his outlook and perspective on the Geoff Stoneback vs. Chris Forsberg tandem battle at Road Atlanta –
Personally, I have a notebook with rows and columns set up for each tandem battle. The other 2 judges have their own methods, but I’m showing this one because it is easy to follow for this explanation. It looks like this:
In the example below, we have the battle between Chris Forsberg and Geoff Stoneback.
In Run 1, Chris lays down a solid lead run, hitting all of the clipping points and zones with great angle and flow throughout the course. Stoneback, in the chase position, drops a tire at inside clip 1, understeers up the hill towards outside zone 1 and straightens exiting the horseshoe, giving him a zero.
In Run 2, Geoff initiates well, drops a tire on the outside of outside zone 1, has a bobble as he approaches outside zone 2, which causes him to miss the zone, is slightly off of IC2, and finishes the rest of the course without any other issues. While Chris is following, he has much higher proximity, mimics Geoff well but drops 2 tires as he approaches the finish line, giving him a zero.
In this case, since both drivers had judgeable lead runs, but both zeroed out on their chase run, it stands to reason that we would judge the lead runs to find a winner. We are judging “apples to apples”, and it is the most fair way of settling this battle between these two drivers. We can’t ignore the two lead runs that were run cleanly without any interference.
To be fair, two drivers both having complete lead runs and zeros on their chase runs is a rare occurrence, which is why it seems like we’re straying from our usual judging procedure.
If a chase driver zeroes out, the lead driver is still expected to complete the course and will be judged on his/her performance. The chase driver spinning or crashing does not affect the lead driver in any way, which is why we require the lead to complete the course.
In the case of a driver spinning out in the lead position, we do not require the chase driver to complete the course, as this could potentially put both drivers at risk. As soon as a lead driver zeroes out in any way (spinning, hitting a wall, going off course, straightening, etc) we consider the run to be over and the chase driver will not receive a zero if he/she stops drifting.