Formula Drift Round 3 – Palm Beach
By Efrain Olivares
The word of the day at Palm Beach was ‘proximity’. That is, the Formula Drift judges put the emphasis on the tandem competitors on keeping proximity with the lead car. Sacrificing angle and line for the sake of maintaining door-to-door competition was the name of the game. As a result, Palm Beach International Raceway had the closest tandem competitions of the year, and tons of carnage.
The PBIR circuit was also revised from last year’s high-speed left/right/left flick. No surprises when Vaughn Gittin, Jr. qualified first, but Pro-Am driver Miro Ovcharik provided a huge surprise when he threw down a score good enough for second. Tyler McQuarrie put in his best qualifying effort thus far with his new Chevy Camaro, while sophomore driver Odi Bakchis raised eyebrows qualifying fourth, ahead of Darren McNamara in his second event in the left-hand-drive Nissan 350Z.
More surprises included Tony Brakohiapa, in his new Ford Mustang, qualifying in seventh. The revised, and more challenging, layout, along with a brief rainshower that fell during qualifying, led to several surprises in qualifying that would lead to many interesting matchups in the competition.
Gittin ran the table on this one, taking an easy unanimous win over Matt Field. While Field drove well, he didn’t have the speed and angle that JR had.