Posted by Armin H. Ausejo
The weekend of May 12, 2012 proved to be an extremely busy weekend for everyone that loves fast cars and lots of smoke in the Atlanta, GA area. Not only did Road Atlanta play host to Formula DRIFT Round 2: Road to the Championship, but it was also home to Global Time Attack and a Formula 2000 race, all taking place at the same time as Formula DRIFT.
Photos by Kyle “KP” Pope – Text by Kyle “KP” Pope and Armin Ausejo
Unlike Global Time Attack and Formula 2000 however, Formula DRIFT of course offers a very different style of going fast, full of smoke, screeching tires, and some of the largest crowds that Formula DRIFT Atlanta has ever seen.
Ticket sales for Formula DRIFT Round 2 were strikingly higher than last year’s event, easily breaking a double-digit percentage increase. Undoubtedly, some of this has to do with the grassroots campaign in the Atlanta area to save a local drift event from being closed, but based on Round 1’s huge crowds at Long Beach, it seemed only natural that the large crowds would continue from round to round. Also similar to Long Beach were some new challenges set forth for the drivers, including a new, more spectator-friendly course layout coupled with strict judging toward the use of reverse entries.
These combined to make some very thrilling tandems through the “P” of the course and back through the first clip. Overall, judging seemed to come into question throughout the event, with some issues with the speed gun on the second qualifying run resulting in possibly unbalanced scores and many big name drivers such as Forsberg, Dai, and Dmac going out in the Top 32. Quite a bit of controversy surrounded Tyler McQuarrie’s passing of Joon Maeng, where the judges ruled that Joon wasn’t far enough off line to pass and thus McQuarrie should have followed him instead.
Despite all these issues, Northwest favorite Walker Wilkerson made his best run at the podium to date, going head to head with drifting legend (but Formula DRIFT rookie) Daigo Saito for the third place spot. Walker had made some weight balance changes and went up in rear tire size since Round 1 in Long Beach, which clearly worked out well for him as he found himself in the battle for third place. After a one-more-time battle, Saito took his second straight third place finish of the season to the dismay of many of the fans in the crowd and even some of the drivers as well. Nevertheless, this gave Saito a slight lead in the overall point standings for second place, with Justin “JTP” Pawlak now firmly in the lead after back-to-back wins at Long Beach and now Atlanta. JTP edged out 2010’s Rookie of the Year Fredric Aasbo for the win, leaving Aasbo trailing Saito by only 5.5 points in the overall point standings.
While missing the podium was surely disappointing for Walker Wilkerson this time around, it definitely seems that he’s gotten used to his new car and thus we all look forward to seeing if he can improve at the next Formula DRIFT at Round 3: Invasion at West Palm Beach International Raceway on June 1-2.