With Round 1 of the very first The Drift League season out of the way weeks ago, Round 2 felt a little more settled in. A lot of the same drivers at the inaugural returned for the follow up, with a few exceptions, and there were even a handful of new faces (although not necessarily new to pro-am drifting). And with a second round of competition for the Formula DRIFT-sanctioned driver development series came a second different variation of the Irwindale Speedway-based drift circuit.
This time the course used the entire bank on the eastern end of the bowl (at Round 1 TDL only used about half of it), and instead of cutting diagonally across the Irwindale infield, cars were routed around the K-rail enclosed photo box that sits sort of in the middle of the oval (actually, just off center, closer to the track's backstretch). The bank was Zone 1, which dropped down to Clip 1, Zone 2 was on the far side of the photo box, then a Touch & Go/inner clip heading back toward the bank exit before a final rear zone on the low bank, again on the eastern end of the track.
Qualifying during peak Friday afternoon heat saw Rome Charpentier in the We Are Lions BMW E36 pick up his second straight number-one qualifier, earning a high score of 84 and being one of only three competitors to break into the 80s. Daniel Stucke in the 2JZ-powered MSPEK S13 and Tony Cisneros in his S14 swapped spots from Round 1, Stuke qualifying P2 this time while Cisneros nabbed P3. Micah Diaz and his E46 improved greatly to P4 from P10 at Round 1, while TDL newcomer and Top Drift regular Pablo Cabrera in the V's Performance S13 showed up guns blazing, earning P5. Mark Sanchez and his S13, Top Drift's Alex Grimm in his Camaro, and Joseph Jansen in his 370Z were all also first-time qualifiers.
ROUND 2 QUALIFYING ORDER & HIGH SCORE
1. Rome Charpentier—84
2. Daniel Stucke—82
3. Tony Cisneros—80
4. Micah Diaz—77
5. Pablo Cabrera—75
6. George Kilada—75
7. Josh Mason—73
8. Daryl Priyono—71
9. Mac Cruz—70
10. Chris Jones—69
11. Mark Sanchez—67
12. Alex Grimm—65
13. Don Boline—64
14. Amanda Sorensen—60
15. Carlos Cano Estrella—59
16. Joseph Jansen—39
Ambient temperatures cooled but competition flared up for the evening's Top 16 eliminations, which got rolling with top qualifier Charpentier overwhelming no. 16 qualifier Jansen. Mac Cruz in his 2JZ RX-7 and Daryl Priyono in his V8 E36 went next, Cruz flubbing his lead lap but putting down an absolutely insane chase—so good, you'd think you were watching a pro driver. Alas, the damage was done and Priyono advanced. Diaz and his BMW faced Don Boline in the Concept Builders 350Z, the match going to Diaz, and then Cabrera and Grimm had the floor, with Cabrera picking up that W. The first battle of the bottom half of the bracket witnessed our first carnage of eliminations, as Stuke's S13 got sucked up into the bank wall mid-battle with Carlos Cano Estrella's 1UZ-FE V8 Hachiroku. It was a glancing blow but after a 5-minute timeout Stucke announced he was too broken to return.
Josh Maason and his LS-swapped Mustang had a fairly easy time against Chris Jones in his S13, who spun out on his chase and lead laps. The last two battles of Top 16 had Cisneros eliminating 15-year-old Amanda Sorensen in her E46, who seemed to have issues keeping her car at angle, and then George Kilada in his S13 had both a better lead and chase to dispatch Mark Sanchez's 240SX.
Great 8 commenced with teammates Charpentier and Priyono battling one another in their E36s, which went to Rome, followed by Diaz and Cabrera's showdown, the first of Round 2 to require a One More Time. Like Stuke, however, Diaz wound up in the wall, losing a wheel ta boot, handing his challenger the victory. Wall love continued through the next pairing when Cano Estrella fell victim to the barrier, clearing Mason's path to the Final 4. Finally, teammates Cisneros and Kilada closed out the Great 8, with Tony in his S14 proving to be the better driver tonight.
In the event semifinal, Charpentier and Cabrera were first up, and after an inconclusive opening set judges asked for a OMT, using the bonus laps to determine the E36's runs were better. Mason and Cisneros completed the Final 4, but unfortunately steering system issues that have plagued Josh's Mustang reared their ugly head again at the worst time possible. He clearly was having problems keeping the car at angle, not just in his loss to Cisneros but also in his subsequent loss to Cabrera to determine third place.
This set up a final pitting Charpentier and his Bimmer against Cisneros and his 240SX. For their first pair of orbits both drivers made corrections, and so judges had them go out again for a One More Time. The tiebreaking runs again looked really close, but judges decided Cisneros deserved the victory, finalizing a Cisneros-Charpentier-Cabrera Round 2 podium.
With half The Drift League first season in the books, Josh Mason holds on to a lead in the points, amassing 172 versus Tony Cisneros's 159 in second place and Rome Charpentier's 142 in third. The top three drivers in points at season's end qualify for a Formula D Pro 2 license, so while Mason, Cisneros, and Charpentier are sitting pretty now, drivers like Dan Stuke, Micah Diaz, Amanda Sorensen, and others are easily within striking distance. Round 3 of TDL's four-round season is set for August 31st, as always at the House of Drift, Irwindale Events Center.