Formula Drift 2013 Round 2: Road Atlanta
By Justin Banner
Roaring down the “Road to the Championship,” Round 2 would take place at the granddaddy of Formula Drift – Road Atlanta. Since the start of the Formula Drift Pro Championship in 2004, Road Atlanta was the very first round and became the second round when the Long Beach Grand Prix allowed the series to compete a week before the GP weekend in 2006. It is the longest running event for Formula Drift alongside Irwindale so Road Atlanta holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many of the original drifters and those who progressed through the Pro-Am ranks. Atlanta is hot, fast, and a bit scary to those who first come out to tame one of the fastest circuits in the Formula Drift series and this year many drivers were above 90 mph entering into the first turn – Turn 10a. These high speeds meant that an early enough entry would be required to scrub off speed and this speed has made Road Atlanta the home of the “Reverse Entry.” Drivers like Mike Essa and Conrad Grunewald have made this their trademark entry at Road Atlanta.
|Mike Essa in the GSR Autosport BMW M3 showing how to go big in the horseshoe of Road Atlanta! Photo by Dan Jenkins of Fueled Culture|
With a new knockout qualifying format for 2013, many thought that the entry for 10a would become wilder since the drivers' first run would either be their last or they would have to face being knocked out if they didn't make the 16 place cutoff. Many drivers actually felt like the wild entries would be tamed for the first run with a bust-everything-out approach if they had to run for 17 to 32.
|Fredric Aasbo in the Hankook Tire Scion tC was your number one qualifier at Round 2! Photo by Dan Jenkins of Fuled Culture|
Qualifying scores seemed to indicate this as well. Many of those who made the Top 16 in Qualifying scored in the 70 point range. Only the top seven broke out of the 70s, while only Fredric Aasbo surpassed the 80s with a score of 90.5. Mike Essa qualified in second with a score of 89.8, just missing out on a 90 point score. Justin Pawlak, after a disappointing first round rebounded with the third place spot. The number four is starting to follow Chelsea Denofa as not only did he finish fourth at Round 1 he also qualified 4th at Road Atlanta. The last of the top five was also a guy who had a very disappointing first round as Daigo Saito was able to find his way back to the form he showcased last year.
|Danny George makes Top 16 with a 14th Qualifying Seed!|
Round Two also marked the return of Walker Wilkerson. While his car broke before he had a chance to qualify at Long Beach, he was able to find the final position and make Road Atlanta. Despite the win at Long Beach Daijiro Yoshihara had a mediocre start to Round 2 with a 15th qualifying spot. Darren McNamara, on the other hand, was able to secure 6th. Danny George was able to make the Top 16 at Road Atlanta qualifying while showing how a V8 Miata on fire need not involve actual flames. Finally, a very strange thing happened to Patrick Mordant at Road Atlanta as it seems like this track really hates him. After qualifying, it was revealed that Patrick never received any scores for qualifying. Once the error was rectified Pat would end up in 28th spot, knocking out Brandon Wicknick who was sitting in 32nd place.