Formula Drift 2012 – New Year, New Rules!
by Justin Banner
Formula Drift, and drifting in general, is possibly the most unique motorsport in the fact that many of the suspension, engine, and even drivetrain rules are so open. Well, open provided you keep the car a rear-wheel-drive layout and use the tires allowed into the sport. The next closest would be our MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship.
If you have been doing your best to keep up with Formula Drift's Rule Book, you have a basic idea of what FD is looking for in a Drift car. For this year there are a number of changes. The tire rule has changed again, with new weights and new tire sizes. Many suspension rules are now set in more stone than last year, along with what I think is an oddball rule to add when I first read it. Also, Appendix K is no longer in effect, but there are rules in place of it. Let's start with the most controversial, the often dreaded “Tire Rule.”
|Probably won't see anything this crazy in width in Formula Drift for 2012, even if it's a Nitto Invo! Unless Sam Hubinette comes back with Dodge next year, but I'm fairly certain his retirement is for good.
If you're still relatively new to Formula Drift, you'll hear one rule brought up more than any other since it's inception. That is Section 9, specifically Section 9.1 “Tire Size Regulation,” aka the “Tire Rule.” Introduced in the 2011 season, and modified during the 2011 season, it was viewed as a way to help some of the privateer and low budget cars try to keep up with the higher budget, better prepared cars.
At first, it wasn't a mind blowing success, as through the first part of the season those higher budget teams were still on top. Formula Drift then introduced Tire Rule Part Duex in the middle of the season, which did shake some teams up. It was viewed as a positive change for the most part. It really showed itself as now the Falken Tire team did not dominante the podium after the second round of changes were made.
|Even Tony Angelo's dog thinks the tire rules needed a refresh!
For the 2012 season, the ballast, weights, and Tire Sizes have changed again. The weight classes now read:
“Weight and Tire Classes-
2100-2399lbs up to 235mm
2400-2699lbs up to 245mm
2700-2799lbs up to 255mm
2800-2899lbs up to 265mm
2900-2999lbs up to 275mm
3000-3099lbs up to 285mm
3100-3199lbs up to 295mm
3200-3299lbs up to 305mm”
The smallest tire now allowed is a 235mm while the largest is now a 305. That's a 30mm increase at the bottom of the scale and a 10mm decrease at the top of the scale from last year. Weight Classes have also shrunk with the 2100-2399lbs now being the catch for the 235mm tire, but the 305mm tire is the maximum of 3200-3299lbs. The 2000-2099lbs. class has been eliminated, entirely.
Another note to make about the rules, when I spoke with Doug Artus, Competition Manager of Formula Drift, “While it is not currently in the rulebook, and an amendium is being written, on top of all the (new) rules and regulations for which cars are allowable, is that they have to fit with-in the weight limits of the tire specifications. So the car, with the driver, has to weigh a minimum of (2100) lbs.”
|While big cars like the Dodge Challenger are still able to use a big tire, that's still not lot of rubber or traction once you get these heavy cars going. Really the point wasn't to eliminate their traction, but reduce the traction of smaller cars like the S-Chassis. Sounds weird in a sport about oversteer, but read Mike's Articles on Drift Car Setup and you'll see I'm not crazy when I talk about keeping grip!
|Daijiro Yoshihara's Discount Tire car was all about handling and big grip from the Falken Azenis RT-615K tires. In 2011, it used it's nimbleness to win the championship even though it had less power than many of the top ranked cars.