Formula Drift Mid-Season Report: Is It Really The Tires?
by Justin Banner
Well, here we are, the halfway event for the 2011 season at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington. It is the first of the Western swing that takes us to the finals at Irwindale Speedway. On the way here though a rule was modified–the controversial “Tire Rule.” Tire size allowances went down 2 tire sizes, where a 215 was allowed for the lightest cars, now a 195 is required. For the heaviest cars a 335 was once allowed, but now a 315 is the maximum width. Ballast also changed from 50 lbs. to 150 lbs., making the ability to stay in a tire class a little easier if you’re too light for your new class. So, what does that really mean? Is it really going to have an effect on the cars? When I interviewed drivers from the New Jersey round, the consensus was no. Nothing would change, even their own tire sizes would more than likely stay the same.
|As you can see, there is more to tire sizing than just what’s written on the sticker! Stretching a tire makes a difference as well as other variables!|
You see, the secret of the tire class rule is how the tire is measured and it is spelled out plainly, “Tire sizes are AS MEASURED in mm, across the span of the contact patch. Tires will be measured on the rim, while on the car, while the car is on the ground.” So, even if you’re running a 215, you could be running as narrow as 205mm to as wide as 225mm as it depends on the air pressure, camber, weight of the vehicle on the tire, construction of the tire, width of the wheel versus the tire (stretching and ballooning tires), and a whole slew of other minor variables that can effect how much rubber actually hits the ground.
|While he does feel that more could be done, Ron Bergenholtz does like that Formula Drift is trying to make a great field.|
“I applaud FD for trying to level the field,” said Ron Bergenholtz, “but, unfortunately, it could hurt a couple of teams. The premise is correct, but the technicalities of having to level the field might not work. There has to be other ways than just tire and weight to help level the field because the one thing that is beautiful about the level of competitors in Formula Drift is the diverse field of cars and that’s always good!” On whether or not Joon Maeng’s car would change, “Our Sherman Tank is unaffected, we are qualified for a 315 and according to the rules we are in spec.” “With the rule change,” Joon Maeng states, “it really doesn’t effect us much because it was (changed to) skinnier tires with the weight ratios so… we can run the same size tire.”
|“Alabama,” “Mr. Nice Guy,” or just plain Joon Maeng likes the rule change.|
|Mike Meeiem of Nexen Tire, USA does feel like the new Rules will favor his sponsored drivers.|
|Taka Aono, though, does still feel that the teams with the largest budget still have the advantage, no matter the tire rules.|