FD Seattle August 4-6

Following the new round in Canada, Formula Drift returns to the oldest circuit on the calendar, Evergreen Speedway. Like Wall Stadium, the circuit surrounded by gorgeous evergreens. It offers a calming backdrop to the thunder and horsepower of the race weekend. 

This year Formula Drift had a few changes for the round. First, we did not see the return of Pro 2 to this course. Last year, we saw a few epic battles, but also some heavy crashes. Juha Rintanen, Sergey Kabargin, and Donovan Brockway had immense crashes on the outer bank. Chris Jeanneret had brush with the notorious final corner. And Alex Heilbrunn had a brush with the k-walls in the power alley, a lot like the crash he had in the same area this year.

Perhaps the extra cleanup time made the organizers rethink having to run two competitions in one weekend.

We also saw the course change again. This year the exit of the course no longer grazes the wall. Instead, a shorter transition allows for a tighter tandem, but arguably less excitement. Maybe this change was brought by the controversial crash between Pawlak and Mcquarrie.

The course change seemed to bring about its own set of problems. A few drivers were saying the tighter course made smooth driving very difficult. A few spins at the final clipping point seemed to prove this complaint.

This year saw a few cars take a lot of damage. Pat Mourdaunt was unable to qualify due to a crash during practice, ending his race weekend.

Vaughn Gittin had a few run-ins with the wall of the 5/8ths mile bank. With a veteran crew and race program, he was able to qualify first. No sweat.

Ryan Tuerck came to Evergreen Speedway with a fantastic new livery and color scheme. However, it seemed like he left his luck at home. A broken camshaft on practice day left him limping into qualifying. Ryan Tuerck is also a veteran of the sport. Nameless Performance was able to turn the problem around and find a stock camshaft and replace the snapped BC unit. His team said he was likely down 75HP with the replacement. He was able to adapt and qualify eleventh, but his luck ended there. A crash in Top 32 against Robbie Nishida ended Tuerck's unlucky weekend.

Sidenote: The guy under the umbrella and speed gun is on Nitto's team. He was truly brave to stay there. Both Dai Yoshihara and Ryan Tuerck crashed in similar areas. 

Tyler McQuarrie was in his groove this round as well. The battle against Kenneth Moen left his car battle scarred, but he was able to piece it back together and give Ken Gushi a fair fight.

With the lack of Pro 2 this year, we decided to take a closer look at the drivers that made it up from the lower division. They would be back for a second year to this treacherous circuit. 

Andy Gray qualified second last year at this course. This year he qualified twenty-fifth, second highest among the rookies. He was taken out by the outstanding performance of Matt Coffman in Top 32. Gray fought hard, and the experience from last year showed through. Coffman just had more experience. Gray is backed by years of experience in Japan, but that does not necessarily translate to experience in Formula Drift.

Alex Heilbrunn looked stellar this weekend as well. He qualified twenty-first, the highest of the rookies. The new engine package coming into 2016 meant he was flying down the 5/8ths mile bank. However a crash in Top 32 put him out of competition. Following Dai Yoshihara, Heilbrunn seemed to have gotten lost in the tire smoke and missed timed his transition. 

Faruk Kugay also returns to Evergreen Speedway with a new engine package. The increase in power made was noticeable on all parts of the track. However, it just wasn't enough when going up against Vaughn Gittin Jr. JR had a year of development on his new chassis, and looks like a completely new person driving the new S550 Mustang.

Cameron Moore was performing outstandingly this weekend. Evergreen Speedway is his home course and earned one of his Pro 2 licenses from Evergreen Drift. Moore qualified twenty-eighth, third among the rookies. For the third time this year, Moore went to battle with Chris Forsberg. Moore seems to only battle the veterans this year. 


We will be back in Texas for Round 7 of Formula Drift Pro and Round 3 of Pro 2. Let's hope the Texas heat doesn't affect us too much.


// Words and Photos: Mike Tseng //

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