By now, you've figured out the earlier we run a diary entry, the earlier the driver was knocked out. On that same note, you've probably also figured out that Tyler, despite all his talents, has had 99 problems this season-and no, a bitch ain't one.
I flew into Seattle on Thursday night, ready to kick some ass. The team resolved the problem that kept us from competing in Las Vegas, so I was looking forward to getting out to practice. Our plan was to just shake down the Porsche on Thursday night, and save the hard driving for the weekend. I did a couple of sighting laps and then laid down a couple of runs to see if we had the boost back. Man, did we! It was back up to 1.4 bar and the Porsche was so fast going into the bank, that I had no problem staying up on the wall. We made a couple changes to help me get through the infield better, bolted on a new set of Hankooks, and were all set to call it a night, when the idea came to test out one more change. I left the start line in first gear, grabbed Second, and halfway through the gear I heard a loud bang! "This can't be happening!" I yell to myself and the Porsche. I knew that something in the engine had given way. The JIC Team tore her apart and found a broken valve. It was right then and there that I knew for a fact that we were cursed.
They loaded up the car, and drove an hour to a Porsche shop to rebuild the motor. They worked all night and realized at 4 am that we had also broken a retainer, spring, two other bent valves, and a ton of damage to the cylinder head. Our weekend was over, and I was beyond pissed because I knew the potential of the Porsche. We should be competing for wins in every event, and squarely in the hunt for the championship, but freak mechanical problems have kept us from even attempting to qualify in the past two events. Have you guys seen the movie Groundhog Day? Well I'm stuck in that movie, only this never ending day isn't getting any better.
Next up is my home track, and least favorite stop on the Formula Drift circuit, Infineon Raceway. Great.
Vaughn Gittin Jr.
In the last two chapters, mechanical problems with the Mustang have kept JR from running no further than the Top 16 and that much farther from the elusive Formula D title he wants to add to his US D1 victories.
Seattle is one of my favorite stops every year. I finished second there last year and was feeling extremely confident this time around. Our engine builder assured us that he had the motor gremlins fixed, and that she was ready to scream. Falken Tire even brought out my personal demo car just as an emergency backup, in case mechanical failure plagued us again.
Thursday and Friday practice sessions went perfect. Once I nailed my line, I was consistent, fast and real high on the bank. I was feeling really good about the outcome of the weekend going into Saturday's main event. ...But when I woke up Saturday morning to rain and a soaking wet track, I knew victory wouldn't come easy.
My qualifying plan was simply to lay down a good solid first run and guarantee a spot in the Top 16. For the second run, I was gonna go all-out. I initiated my first pass just as I had all weekend, but immediately the car started to understeer. I grabbed a handful of e-brake to save the car from going straight into the wall, but this caused the back end of the car to kiss the wall, which sucked the front end in, breaking a ball joint in the process. I rushed back to the pits, the crew fixed the car, and in less than ten minutes I was lined back up, pissed off, and ready to destroy my second run.
I wasn't happy about the rain, but learning to drift in Maryland taught me slick-track skill some of the others lack. I initiated on the bank as if it was dry and hit the high line flawlessly across the bank. I dropped into the infield with caution. Everything felt fine at first, but then it was like I hit a patch of ice and completely lost it.
Not qualifying, especially with double goose eggs and no mechanical problems to blame is definitely not something I am used to, nor is acceptable to me. This terrible luck streak I've been fist fighting is going to get knocked out in Sonoma - that's all there is to it!
After a brilliant Top 16 run in Vegas that ended prematurely, due to intercooler piping issues, Ken seems to be getting a handle on his tC. With a handful of Top 16 finishes in a completely custom car, all the Gush needs is for the new car woes to disappear.
This season has been rough for our RS-R Scion team. At almost every event, we've had trouble with the tC. But Seattle seemed like it would be different. Everything went smoothly during Thursday's practice, and I felt confident going into the weekend's competition.
During Friday morning's practice, I had a rough time adjusting to the new layout since the track had been altered a bit from how it was the day before. But as soon as I found my line again, the confidence returned, and I saw a bright weekend ahead of us. Then came the unimaginable. I felt something weird as I shifted through the gears on the straight. The clutch pedal felt like a sponge. It would go down, but had a hard time coming back up, and it kept getting worse, run after run. At one point, I came back into the pit with the clutch pedal on the floor while the clutch was still engaged; even if I manually depressed the clutch, it was not disengaging. We had come to conclusion that the clutch master cylinder had gone. Thankfully, the Scion Racing truck had a tC on display, and the crew was generous enough to let us swap master cylinders. Practice for that day was over, by that point, so I had to wait until Saturday to test out the car.
It did not take me long to find out that car was not fixed during practice on Saturday. This time, it was worse. After the crew bled the clutch line, they informed me that I would only have one chance to depress the clutch to get the car was running, and that I'd have to drift the entire course with only throttle modulation. I was in trouble. Not only was this hard to do, but also dangerous. My team had considered retiring from the event if we came to conclusion that this was too much of a risk. But I don't like giving up. I somehow convinced them that the impossible could be done.
For qualifying, I had them push the car so I could slam it into gear to get started, without having to use my one and only clutch engagement (thank you, G-force dog rings!). As I approached the bank, I said a little prayer and then "BAM"; I kicked the clutch. I felt the car drift and I was full throttle once again, drifting high into the bank. I scored a 91.33 and qualified 16th. Dead-last, but I qualified without a clutch. Mission accomplished. Has that ever been done before? I ended up losing to Samuel Hubinette on my first tandem run, but at least I'm still seeded going into Round 6!
Recovering from a Top 16 crash in Vegas that resulted in a Fourth position overall, Chris and his 350Z are back and in full chase for a championship to cap off his second place finish from the last 2007 Formula D season.
There have been a few changes to the car since last year, and the last time I was on this track, the bank and I got into an argument that I did not win. I was feeling more confident this time around, but after a few laps, we lost oil pressure. Our crew chief, Kevin determined that bearings in the engine came apart and ate up the oil pump, and the only option we had to stay in the game was to replace it with a used one from a salvage yard 200 miles away.
Come Saturday morning, we headed back to the track to find the car ready and waiting for more drift abuse. The Nissan felt strong during the entry of my first qualifying pass, so I threw it into the bank hard. Black smoke kicked off the rear tires and I put the Z's rear bumper inches away from the wall, without any hiccups. After sliding through the infield with big, wide angles into each clipping point, I cleared the course and was tied for First place. I jumped out of the car and ran over to my crew and hugged each one of them, thanking them for all their hard work.
Going into tandems, I was paired with Ryuji Miki -- a pretty straightforward driver; no tricks and not too many mistakes. I was the chase car on our first run, so I made sure just to keep up with him. We entered the bank about three car lengths apart; a gap I quickly closed. As he got on the brakes to extend his line and slow down for the outside clipping point, I added angle and went full throttle; we entered the infield side by side and with an extra 20 degrees of angle. We flipped to the left and I throttled through the transition and got on his rear fender. After flipping back through the hairpin, I thought for sure we had the advantage, so on my lead run, I hammered through the course with as much speed and angle as I could, putting Miki a solid two car lengths behind me as we approached the infield. I thought we had the win; I thought wrong. The judges declared a tie, so we went one more time. At this point, the car was starting to act up, sputtering and misfiring as the temps started to rise. On my chase run, I was not as close to him as the previous runs, and on my lead run, the car dropped off the bank too early and missed the wall clipping zone due to the lack of power and control. We had been defeated. At least we got a handful of points, everyone on the team did a great job, and we kept our Top 5 spot in the championship.
Nos Energy Drink
Formula D Diaries: Monroe, WA
After a second place finish in Vegas, Dai and his GTO managed to break out of his unlucky number four position and is now sitting pretty in third for the season in a tight points chase.
I won last year's Seattle event, so I like this track! This course is suited for my GTO; its major weakness is accelerating from low speed corners to higher speed ones, but since this course decreases in speed towards the finish line, I didn't have to worry.
I felt great all throughout practice, and concentrated on getting as close to the wall as possible. Maybe I was getting too confident, because I ended up hitting the wall slightly in practice. There wasn't any major damage, only scratches on the bumper and wing. Rain cut my second qualifying run short, but since my first run went well, I qualified Fifth going into tandems.
The sun came back out for the Top 16 round, and I was to run against Ryan Tuerck. He beat me at Round 2 at Road Atlanta, but I wasn't worried since the track layout was good for the GTO. We both drove so well against one another, that the judges declared a "one more time" battle. All of a sudden it started to rain again. WTF?! The GTO slipped so much that it just didn't want to go forward. I drove it as well as I could, but I couldn't keep up with Tuerck. He was faster on the wet surface, so my race was over.
Rhys Millen Motors
The former D1GP champ has been struggling, running in the left-hand world of Formula D drifting. Plagued with mishaps in his RX-7, not to mention a huge crash in Vegas that knocked him out during qualifying, Miki is in need of a change.
Going into Round 5 in Seattle, my RX-7 was highly modified from the previous round. It is the same car that we have been using all season, but my team converted it over to RHD, since I have been driving on the right for most of my drifting career. With the change, I spent a lot of time setting up the car during Thursday's practice: We switched the rear springs to a lower spring rate, changed the front wheels to 17-inch, and more. The Mazda was noticeably improved. Thank you Chuck, Keith, and Ron - I can't express how much better I like the new setup!
On Friday's practice, I concentrated on finding the best line for the car on Seattle's course. I wanted to go into Saturday's qualifying feeling confident and not damage the car like I had during the last round. On my first run, I scored a 94.08, and into the Eighth qualifying position. With a little more power, I think I would have been able to qualify higher; the main section of Seattle is a huge bank, and in order to drive on the top of the bank, near the wall, where all the points are hiding, a car needs lots of power.
My first tsuiso run was against Chris Forsberg, a powerful "enemy". Our first run was my lead, so I just drove like it was a solo run and was able to hit the outside line, alongside the bank, and continue with a very clean run. The result was an 8 to 5, the advantage in my favor. But in my chase run, I was not able to keep up with him going into the bank, and finished with fewer points than I needed to advance. We were told to go one more time. Chris kept a closer chase on the first run, and took a 9 to 8 advantage. On the second run, I concentrated on staying as close as possible to him down the straightaway, and across the bank, where he lost control and I was able to defeat him. It was an all-out, full throttle battle! Chris is a driver who does clean runs without any strange, petty tricks. Nice battle, Chris!
I was up against Samuel Hubinette in the Great 8... just in time for the rain. I'd never driven the RX-7 in the rain, so I did not know what to expect. Unfortunately, I spun on the bank during my first run, and again in the transition during my second. I was defeated too easily. I was glad to battle Sam, but thought I could've given him a better run for his points. Next time! Infineon is one of my favorite courses...
Translated by: Masaki Nakayama
Leading the points chase for the 2008, Golden Boy Foust and his 350Z are on their way to adding a second Formula D title to Tanner's long list of accomplishments. All he needs to do now is maintain the lead.
Round Five of the Formula Drift championship fell directly after a hectic X Games week. I literally unpacked my champagne-soaked rally suite, threw in the drift suite, and headed off to the airport. Luckily, Mr. Papadakis had everything set to go when we arrived in Washington.
Practice went well on Thursday and Friday, with several changes made to our setup that would later prove useless, thanks to Mother Nature. When the clouds finally opened up, I watched a few drivers demonstrate how much, or how little grip, there was on the wet track. Our qualifying runs went well, as the Rockstar Z slid along the outer wall of the big bank, and into Second!
The tandem runs were even more fun in the rain. Kyle Mohan ended up spinning behind me in the Top 16, while in the Great 8, Okubo accidentally hit my driver's side while closing the gap. He felt very bad about it and later thanked me for not trying to play any games with him... but the hit was HARD. It moved the engine almost an inch on the mounts, and rested my Garrett turbo squarely on the right steering tie rod, making right hand steering very difficult.
Stephan and Shawn initiated a deft fix, but I was still worried about the left hand turn. Leading Rhys, he stuck to me like glue. I knew I'd have to lock onto him to move on and I gave it my best. Through the bank, I was leaving rubber on his passenger door with my front tire, but bobbled on the left hand corner so much that we had to go one more time. We both drove very hard and put down respectable runs the second time around, but I hit the wall exiting the last hairpin; Rhys moved on.
In the consolation round, Robbie Nishida - for the second time this year - beat my ass! We've battled many times in the past, but now it's safe to say the score is even. With an advantage in the first run I ended up having trouble on that same left-hand turn and spun behind Robbie, so we ended up Fourth and Samuel stole the championship lead from us!
The two-time Formula D champ left Vegas in Third, and Second for the season. With only a few points separating him and First place Tanner; Sam and his Viper need a win as much as Sam likes the word, "dudes".
Wow, what a tough event we had to battle through, up here in the Northwest! They say the third time is the charm, but that definitely wasn't true for the Formula Drift's third visit to Evergreen. It was sunny early in the morning on race day, but later in the day it started to rain hard! It cleared up a bit; just long enough for the track to dry out before it came down again! That was how it went all through qualifying and tandem eliminations. But despite it all, the Seattle fans were dedicated; I don't think anybody left the stands. Those dudes really love drifting!
This was definitely the hardest drift event in which I have ever competed. The rain made the track so unpredictable, it was easy to lose control and spin out, or correct too much. I had to stay so focused, that after each 45 second run I was soaked... but with sweat, not from the rain! Team NuFormz did an awesome job adjusting the car to the changing track conditions, especially by changing the shocks back and forth depending on how the weather was changing. One minute it was raining, then it started to clear up. Making the rear as soft as possible helped us to get as much traction as possible on the wet track. I also had to try to stay light on the throttle during wet sessions, because the rain required speeds 10-20 mph slower than usual. Also, having the ability to switch between wet- and dry-specific BFGs helped me to maintain control on the unpredictable surface.
I managed to deal with the wet conditions, and my second and final qualifying run earned us the Ichiban spot. I had a really good battle in the finals with my friend, Rhys Millen. It was close, but I took second place at the end of the day, which put me on top as the points leader in the battle for the Formula Drift championship, with a 12 point lead. So, of course, I am stoked about the event, even if I did not get the top spot on the podium. We raked in our second number one qualifying spot of the year, our second Second place finish, third podium altogether, and I took the points lead! Now it's on to Sonoma as I continue to fight for my third Formula D championship title.
Drift ya later dudes!!
Formula D Results
Monroe Podium1. Millen2. Hubinette3. Nishida