Revenge of the Nerd: End of the FD Season and a lesson in drift car dynamics


This bit us in the ass during round 7 which had a significant effect on Dai’s season.  Going into round seven, Dai was solidly in second points in the Formula D standings to his Falken teammate, the dominant Vaughn Gitten Jr.  Dai had a strong lock on second place and was the only other driver who really had a numeric chance of upsetting Jr. for the championship.  Then in the Top 32 elimination Dai made a mistake against Privateer Matt Fields. 

traqmate g forces
It’s best to look at this acceleration/deceleration chart as a negative space.  What it shows is that the G-Force dog box shifts really fast and that Dai is on the gas most of the time except for a few times where he left foot brakes.  The only time he is off the gas is when he transitions the car from right to left while cornering.  Notice that the car is decelerating in the later part of the run in the flat turns which is probably why lateral G’s are lower as a lot of the tire’s friction is used up in slowing the car for the tighter later turns.

Matt’s car isn’t capable of the acceleration of the Falken/Discount Tire S13 and in the drivers meeting FD officials explained that they wanted the drivers with the faster cars to pace the slower cars when leading to give a closer better show for the fans.  Tanner Foust had gotten heavily penalized a few runs previously for not waiting for his chase car so Dai was careful not to run away from Fields entering the bank.  The resulting low entry speed meant that Dai could not do one of his high angle, wall scraping points producing runs that he is known for.

traqmate GPS map
The track map drawn by the Traqmate using GPS data.  Multiple runs can be overlaid to compare run to run changes.  Acceleration is indicated by green with braking in red.  The first red trace is the turning brake. The other red traces are a combination of left foot braking and turning brake application.

Dai tried to make up for the lackluster bank by pulling over 10 points winning car lengths on Fields, entering the course’s inner bank deep with a lot of speed and nearly scraped the wall spectacularly. Unfortunately his speed was slightly too high and the loosely set car overotated when transferring to the final two turns resulting in a half spin.  Fields was desperately trying to gain ground and had cut across the turn, committing to a shallow angle colliding with Dai’s nearly stationary car, hitting the left front wheel breaking the tie rod and steering rack, throwing the Falken car into the barrier ending Dai’s day and season very early in an amazing upset victory

matt fields and dai yoshihara crash
Whoops!  Sometimes even the best pros can make a mistake.  Bad for Dai, Good for Jr.  Congratulations Jr, you were on fire all year and you deserve your hard earned championship!  Wait until next year!

The result was devastating to Dai’s points, a worst case scenario getting eliminated in the first round.  Dai’s standing dropped to 4th and the crash cemented Vaughn Gitten Jr’s drive to the championship.  Drifting is a tough sport, one small mistake and you can pay heavily.  In road racing you have many laps and many turns to make up for mistakes.  The silly season has now started and Dai will be returning with Team Falken and I think I will probably be on board again as well.  We will be returning with much more power and KW has some new secret suspension technology which we will be applying with great effect.  Hopefully in 2011 Dai will be able to sit on top of the heap!

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