Formula Drift round 3 at Road Atlanta
Formula Drift round 3 was held in legendary Road Atlanta racetrack, just two weeks after round 2 in Orlando. FDATL (official hashtag for Formula D Atlanta) is the one of the craziest events of every season - it packs the biggest and craziest crowds, and track layout is very different from most oval based tracks - the drift course starts on top of a hill with long straight where drivers reach top speed with a sharp left turn, which follows a very long right turn uphill into a horseshoe/keyhole, then back downhill the same road, left, right, uphill, finish. Just like most terrain around Atlanta - the track has very varying elevations with hills and trees in-between pits and track. Formula Drift is one of the events that always has finals at night. During the day the track has road course open for time attack events. This is round 3 for Formula Drift PRO championship as well as the second round of FD PRO 2. There are no Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ drivers in Pro 2, we will cover PRO championship drivers which currently are five - Dai Yoshihara, Ken Gushi, Ryan Tuerck, Jhonnattan Castro and Cameron Moore. During the two days of PRO championship round it was raining a few times which made the results very unpredictable.
Ken Gushi and Greddy Racing / Boost Brigade / Toyota Racing team qualified in 20th position. In Top 32 Ken Gushi was battling with Worthouse drift team driver James Deane who has made a strong comeback to FD by winning the first round. In follow run Ken Gushi over-rotated before finish and this gave James Deane a clear advantage. In lead run Ken Gushi does a solid run but it is not enough. James Deane is far back behind and one judge calls OMT (one more time) apparently for inactive chase, but other two judges give the win to James Deane. Eventually James Deane wins the event.
The newcomer of the year to 86-chassis Cameron Moore in his Nameless Performance Toyota 86 seems to be still adapting to the car and qualifies in 22nd position. In top32 battling against another Worthouse drift team driver - Piotr Wiecek. Cameron Moore had a big gap in follow run. In lead dropped a tire offcourse, overall giving judges easy decision to give the win to Wiecek.
Castro was the star of previous round where he won the battle with championship title contender James Deane. Running strong with 2AR build by Papadakis Racing Castro has a solid car for the championship. Castro qualified in 14th position and was put up with Nate Hamilton in Top32. Lead run is very equal, no major mistakes from both drivers, but in follow run Hamilton runs away and opens a gap. Due to proximity difference judges give the win to Nate Hamilton.
Dai Yoshihara took his Falken / Turn14 Distribution Subaru BRZ to podium in previous round including first qualifying spot. In Atlanta unfortunately qualified 23rd and was put up with Ryan Tuerck in TOP32. Both drivers showed similar performance - in lead run running away from the other driver, with follow driver catching up only in course mid section (horseshoe). Judges call OMT. In next follow run in mid-section Dai Yoshihara shuts down the engine because of technical problems. This gives Tuerck a clear advantage. After calling timeout and repairing car Yoshihara has a great lead run but it is not enough and Tuerck moves to TOP 16.
Ryan Tuerck qualified 10th and won the TOP32 battle against Daijiro Yoshihara. Tuerck is only 86/BRZ driver that made to TOP16 in Atlanta.
In Top16 Ryan Tuerck meets Chelsea DeNofa. Both drivers mage a great show but also make some mistakes after two runs and two judges call OMT while one judge votes for DeNofa. In One More Time runs Tuerck makes no major mistakes while DeNofa falls back in follow run and also drops a tire off-course in the last run. One judge calls OMT, two judges vote for Ryan Tuerck and he advances to TOP8
In TOP8 Tuerck meets Dean Kearney driving the only Dodge Viper in FD championship. On Tuerck's lead run Kearney instantly falls back four car lengths behind but demonstrates great skill and catches up closely by the end of the run. On second run Kearney runs away from Tuerck multiple times. Although Tuerck catches up here and there, Kearney had a great lead run with extreme angle at every part of track and judges vote for Dean Kearney who eventually makes it to finals and gets 2nd place on podium.
Podium: 1st James Deane, 2nd Dean Kearney, 3rd Kristaps Blušs
Next round - Formula Drift at Wall Speedway in New Jersey.
Photography: Valters BožeExtra photos: