St. Louis Worldwide Technology Raceway, which was also used as the venue for Formula DRIFT last year. The course layout hasn’t changed much since last year, but for us, who have many car parts to use for the first time this season, the machine setup was like starting from zero.
For example, in terms of tires, this year’s GT Radial Champiro SX2 RS has a slightly larger outer diameter of less than 40 mm compared to the size used last year. (Rear tire uses 295 / 40R18). We also had to change directions significantly for setup of the gear and the suspension.
However, among them, there was a small moment we got a sense of relief. It was when we checked the last year’s running logger, and the final gear that we had installed in advance fits perfectly, and the fact that we never needed final adjustment at the venue led to a small relief for me and the team.
Even though there is no single-elimination tournament, the leading run will have a sufficient effect on the outcome in the chasing-up tournament. Therefore, in practice driving, we carefully checked the driving line.
TOP32 final tournament. As a result of the random bracket, the first match was [BYE RUN], so there was no opponent. TOP16 advancement was automatically decided. In order to create a good rhythm for the TOP16 match, I ran with a high score line in mind.
The TOP16 opponent was Jeff Jones (Team Jeff Jones Racing / NISSAN 370Z NEXEN TIRE). I was the leading car for the first run. Like TOP32 BYE RUN, I tried not to worry about the opponent and just focused on doing my best. I could go through all zone clips and finish without mistakes. Jeff was running quite aggressively and seemed to stick behind me from the beginning to the end. I guess chase-run a situation that requires an attack. Jeff and I switched roles for a second run. I kept a good distance to OUTZONE (hereinafter OZ) 1, 2 and IN CLIP, but I was gradually apart from Jeff’s car just in front of OZ3. I narrowed the distance with OZ4, but the distance with Jeff was too close, and I nearly got in touch with him. I ended up doing a half spin. However, the judge decided that my half-spin was caused by Jeff’s stall while passing OZ4, and gave me a win. It was my first time to advance to TOP8 since I have started participating in American race.
The opponent of TOP8 was Chris Forsberg (NOS Energy Drink Drift Team / NISSAN 370Z NEXEN TIRE). This vehicle was equipped with the R35 GTR engine, VR38DETT like our machine. I was the leading car for the first run. Rather than pulling Chris apart, I tried to do my best solo run without rushing, and I made sure that the line, angle, accelerator opening was all good position. Chris stayed behind me for a certain distance and moved to the second run in a situation where there were no major mistakes with each other. Tactilely, it was not bad that I could aim for a win if I could play well when chasing run. Chris and I switched roles for a second run. I understood that Chris’s start was fast by watching the practice run, so I focused on the start so that I would not be left behind. Although I could come close to the distance just before the contact in OZ1, when OZ2 turned around, the running lines intersected and I fell far behind. I could not catch up with him and I could not make TOP4 advancement.
The course layout of Rd.2 on Sunday was the same as Rd.1. Our machine has been facing a problem with steering not working well since Rd.1. We had to adjust the geometry around the steering wheel every time the car was driven, but the steering wheel kept locking while the machine was under oversteering. The team worked very hard to resolve this problem, but we could not make much improvement. Other than that, we took advantage of the characteristics of YellowSpeed Racing 3WAY Coilvers, it suppressed momentary front shock shrinkage. In addition, The steering bump stop of the PoweredByMAX control arm has been extended, the maximum steering angle has been lowered to prevent steering lock, the kingpin angle caster has been changed, and the steering resilience has been increased.
The opponent of TOP16 is PRO class rookie, Jonathan Nerren (Shelby AmericanDriftTeam / S550 FORD MUSTANG). I was the leading car for the first run. Jonathan was incredibly close between OZ1 and OZ2. However, Jonathan’s machine stalled significantly around OZ2. The drift returned and I saw him cutting the finish line in a straight line. Jonathan told me to use a 5-minute timeout when swapping back and forth. It seemed that he had a machine trouble. Their team finished repairing the machine within 5 minutes and returned to the starting line. My chasing turn. Although I got a big advantage in the first run, I was planning to attack during the chasing run. However, soon after the start, Jonathan’s machine stalled again. Even after entering the OZ1 area, He could not bring the machine into the drift condition, and the game was over here. Unfortunately, TOP32 match was decided due to the machine trouble of the opponent, and I advanced to TOP16.
The opponent of TOP16 is Michael Essa (Team Essa Autosport / BMW E46 Coupe). Our car was still suffering from steering locks and we replaced the steering rack before the TOP16 match. However, I regret this later. Before the match, we noticed something wrong with the machine in the warm-up area.
It was the worst steering feeling through round 1 and 2. The steering movement was continuously awkward, not only when oversteering. There was no self-steering. I was a leading car for the first run. I focused on moving the machine slowly and drove so as not to create a situation where the steering operation could not be made in time. Although there were some minor mistakes, the content was quite good as I could pull Michael apart. However, the story was different when it came to chase-up driving that had to be adjusted to the opponent’s driving. We applied for a five-minute timeout without hesitation. I Returned to the pit and we repaired the machine. The cause was the bending of the steering rack received from the overhaul, and the interference between the steering shaft and the turbo pipe. The mechanic tried to repair the machine in time, but it was mercilessly 5 minutes and 2 seconds to finish the work. [2 seconds] over. We really unfortunately couldn’t bring the machine to the starting line. It was a content that made me think [if] just because the content at the time of the leading run was good, but as a team, I took the result of this race seriously and prepare for the next event. We ended in TOP16.