It all culminated in the final corner. Pablo swung it wide and throttled down, with Micah running the same line in an attempt to catch up. As both cars crossed the lines with plumes of smoke following them, I let out another breath. After what seemed like ages of the staffer holding his hands behind his back, he finally raised the hand, touching the green S13.
Pablo had won.
On the outside, I only nodded, and spoke more notes into my phone.
On the inside, my heart pounded, anxious to see the final four.
Of the 16 drivers that had entered the Top 16, only 4 remained.
And Pablo Cabrera.
First to line up was Rome Charpentier and Amanda Sorensen.
Rome led first, both V8 BMW coupes slipping and sliding their way to the first bank. Upon entering, Rome broke away, yet Amanda inched closer and closer as they made their way around.
As both cars rode back up the bank to prepare for the transition, Rome bled a good amount of angle, speeding up quite a bit before throwing it back sideways.
This gave Rome a gap of about 6 lengths, which he only widened as he dove into the second corner, the distance growing so wide that as the green E36 drove into the final corner, the gray E46 was still going around the last clipping point.
With Sorensen’s time to lead coming around, both cars took off. Interestingly enough, they rode higher on the bank higher than they did when Rome was leading. However, Amanda swung the rear end out just that bit too much as she went through the transition, tapping the bank and losing her rear bumper and trunk. Behind her, Rome had to straighten out to avoid the debris, but quickly recovered. Rome only continued to close the distance on Amanda as they ran through the rest of the course, resulting in a One More Time.
For the sake of formatting, I’ll be grouping together Rome and Sorensen’s OMT runs, and doing the same for the others.
Rome led once more, breaking away from Sorensen on the bank and creating a gap that reached six lengths at a point before the transition in. With that Millennium Motorsports LS under his hood, running away from the Vegas native Sorensen was a simple task, pulling distance in entries, apexes, and exits, all culminating into a ten lengths gap as he drove sideways into the final corner.
At this point, I had moved all over the track. Starting at the side of the first bank, I had slowly made my way to the end of the final corner through the Top 16. The smell of race gas and tires in the air, I didn’t mind breathing in in anticipation as the final battle between the two started.
As Sorensen and Rome left the line, the difference in power became apparent right off the bat; Rome had to let off just before initiation, allowing Sorensen to break away just a bit. However, it simply wasn’t meant to be as Rome bled angle in turn for speed, nearly tapping panels with her as both drivers dove into the transition from the bank.
What little chance Sorensen may have had was squandered as her car slid wide coming around the second corner. Rome took the chance and dove right in to her door; latching on and not letting go until both cars crossed the line.
Rome taking the win, he would soon duel the winner of the Stuke vs Cabrera fight.
Stuke led the first round, Cabrera trailing behind. Cabrera, despite losing a few lengths right off the bat, made a hearty run, losing more ground towards the final third of the course. As they crossed the lines dragging plumes of smoke behind him, I bit my lip: If Cabrera wanted to advance, he’d have to pull a hat trick.
I didn’t have much time to think as the second round began. As both S13s left the line, I noticed something was wrong with Cabrera’s car; it almost seemed as if it was limping. Unfortunately, my hunch was proven right upon initiation. Pablo’s car was flicked but didn’t hold any slide; bogging down instead. With minimal power, Pablo followed Stuke through the bank like a time attack car.
Both cars approaching the transition, Cabrera made a last ditch to hold a slide whilst chasing Stuke. Instead, Cabrera nearly lost control entirely, stomping on the brakes and coming to a complete stop. As Stuke sped away distance was rapidly gained in the Colorado native’s favor, quickly crossing the line of in-active chase.
It was decided, Stuke would face Rome for 1st place, and 3rd place would be decided in a battle between Cabrera and Sorensen.
For formatting and tension, I’ll save the battle for 1st for last, despite it happening before the battle for 2nd.
Cabrera lined up next to Sorensen; Sorensen leading, for their first round. Judging by the idle, I figured whatever mechanical or electrical issues Cabrera had faced were solved, or at the very least fixed for the moment.
The staffer throwing his hands down, Sorensen and Cabrera pulling off the line. I made sure to keep an ear out for the irregular firing pattern his car developed the last time it encountered the mechanical gremlins that cost him his run against Stuke.
As both cars came across the bank, Cabrera seemed to grab too much angle, spinning out and thus zeroing.
Sorensen lined back up, but to my surprise Cabrera instead lined up next to a staffer, making a cut-throat motion. It was then I noticed just how irregular his idle was, and the popping of a clear misfire as he pulled away.
That was it, Cabrera would take 4th, and Amanda 3rd.
Of course, there was still the fight for 1st place.
Rome led first and gave Stuke a run for his money right off the bat. Both cars took the high road on the bank; Stuke’s car putting out much more smoke, yet not gaining any ground as Rome simply walked away up to the transition. Throwing their cars into the transition, Stuke’s lighter car began to catch up for a moment, yet that distance was soon lost as Rome powered down his way out of the transition and into the second corner. Turbo fluttering, exhaust backfiring, Stuke did his best to power his way back into Rome’s door, yet accidentally took a wide line around the second corner, cementing his fate.
By the final corner, Rome’s lead had grown to 10 car lengths.
As I spoke my notes in my phone, I realized what a hat trick Stuke would have to pull to have a fighting chance against Rome, or in the very least invoke a one more time.
As Stuke and Rome initiated into the bank, I could tell Stuke knew the pressure as well: He had spun the rears twice on the leadup. As both cars swung onto the bank, they took the high road. However, Stuke just couldn’t break away from Rome in the manner Rome had done to Stuke. As they dove into the transition, Rome vastly oversped, slamming the brakes to avoid contact with Stuke. For a moment, Rome was directly behind Stuke, bumper to bumper, as they smoked their way out of the transition.
Unfortunately for Stuke, he took the same wide line that had cost him distance in the first duel through the second corner. From there, Rome only gained proximity to the black S13, getting as close as a length apart by the finish line.
It was decided: Rome Charpentier was the winner of Round 3.
I hurriedly packed up my gear and made a rush to the podiums, just in time for the winning ceremonies.
The podium was soon filled, the winners and their prizes announced.
1st Place: Rome Charpentier
2nd Place: Dan Stuke
3rd Place: Amanda Sorensen
As with every proper winner’s circle, the champagne was brought out soon after. Following that, as I made the walk to my car, my clothes wet with champagne and a silent prayer on my mind to not get pulled over smelling like the alcohol section of Costco, I had a bit of a epiphany. There’s only one more round left of the 2018 TDL season! Round 4, the final round, will be handing out Pro2 licenses to the top 3 drivers in the points standings.
So be sure to visit TheDriftLeague.com to purchase tickets to Round 4.
Special Thanks To: