The weekend of May 11th and 12th proved to not only be one of the more informal and experimental stops on the Formula Drift series, but it also gave a great glimpse into what the 2007 season is shaping up to be. The weekend’s mix of newly added drivers and cars, coupled with drivers struggling to adapt their techniques to new rides made predicting the outcome of Round 2 almost impossible.
The weekend saw the debut of many new cars, and even drivers. In the Falken camp, seasoned drift veterans Hiro Sumida and Seigo Yamamoto debuted their Lexus IS and Mazda RX-8, respectively, just down from where Ben Schwartz’s Sears Saturn Sky premiered. Driver Chris Cooke pulled the wraps off his new emerald green Viper GTS in the Mopar pits, situated next to the newly Polaroid-sponsored yellow Viper GTS piloted by first-time FD competitor Nick Hogan. While they all looked great on pit row, none managed to slide into at least the Top 16. Don’t count on them to sit idly for much longer though. As the season winds on, drivers will adapt to their new machines and we’ll see a ton of new faces challenging for podium spots.
Perhaps it was the eagerness of the drivers to establish themselves in such an early event, or possibly the confidence the Road America venue gives (with its track situated a healthy distance from any wall or barrier), but the weekend’s competition was nothing but full-tilt assault at all times. Qualifying and Top 16 were fought tooth and nail, with many bouts too close to call. By the time we reached the top 8, many of the drivers eliminated had either spun out or slid off course, rather than been out-maneuvered by their competitors; proof of the aggressive lines each driver chose.
As the day eventually wore down all but four drivers, many expected to see a clear-cut “clash of the titans”, with points leaders Foust, Forsberg, and Millen all in contention, but come-from-behind loner McNamara had something to say. The first round saw Forsberg all but dominate the lead with speed in the V8 powered 350Z roadster, but McNamara and his Hachi wouldn’t be shaken. When given the advantage in the second run, McNamara clinched the underdog title by holding onto the lead as Foust spun out, earning him the advance.
Round 2 saw the V-8 match up of the series, thus far, with Forsberg and Millen driving closer and more consistently against one another than any other two competitor this year. In their lead runs, each driver claimed a point over the other, and eventually tied in the “tiebreaker”. Due to last year’s adoption of a rule limiting tie-breaking runs to one, a decision had to be made after three runs, and Forsberg was given the advance. Millen conceded his fight for third place, due to mechanical problems, allowing Foust third place on the podium.
While the finals seemed a sure win, favoring V8-powered, heavy points earner Forsberg to 4-cylinder driving, underdog McNamara, but if ever there’s been a giant killer, it’s the diminutive AE86. In the end, the V8, with Forsberg at the wheel, proved to be too much power for the little Corolla to keep up with. McNamara pushed a little too hard in the first run, into a spin – all but handing the win over. After the second run, it was final. Chris Forsberg was awarded the win of Formula Drift, Round 2: Fight Night, Atlanta.
Formula Drift travels to West Virginia’s Summit Point Raceway for round three of the 2007 series. If you can’t make the event in person, check back with Modified.com for unrivaled coverage, and be sure to pick up an issue of Modified for all the details.