Round 3 – Top Drift ProAM
Round 3 of Top Drift is wrapped up and I wish I could say it was a walk in the park. We came into this event knowing that we needed a better tire to keep the competitive edge. We were lucky to team up with Zestino Tires just in time. The downfall to such a large mid season change is that there was no time to test, so we took advantage of as much practice as we could, but at the same time trying to make sure that we would have enough tires to make it to the end of competition, assuming we would go all the way. After a few passes we realized how much grip the tires had and had to make some adjustments to the alignment and continue to play with the tire pressures. By the end of the day we had a decent idea on where the tires stood, and now it was just up to me and becoming more accustomed to the combination that we had come to.
During qualifying my first run wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, so the second pass had a lot riding on it. The pass felt strong and when the dust settled the judges announced that we had placed in 4th place. Our top 16 battle would be up against Chris in his Deeps Garage KA-T S13 hatch. I put down a good lead run and was able to pull away from him while drifting. My spotter had let me know that he had also made a mistake while following as well. I was unable to catch any of his practice runs from earlier in the day, so judging his speed while following was a bit of a gamble. Unfortunately due to that I had run up a little too close and ended up nudging him resulting in a One More Time. After a quick tire change we where lined back up and ready to go. I put on a good lead run, but could tell that he had a little closer this time so I knew that I would have to apply some solid pressure on him during my follow run. The strategy had paid off and the judges would award us the win.
Up next in the Great 8 we would be paired up against Shaun Illingsworth and his supercharged LS V8 built by RAD Industries. I was able to catch a few of his practice runs and knew that his car was pretty quick, so knowing that I tried to put down a solid lead run with as much speed and smoke. My spotter told me that he thought we had the advantage, so it gave me a good amount of confidence going into the chase position. During the chase I’m not sure if he might have had an issue or maybe an “off” run, but it didn’t seem as quick as I had anticipated. Because I had thought he would be going a little faster I had initiated close to him to keep proximity, but due to the speed it actually made it quite difficult to follow, trying not to spin, loose proximity, hit him, or straighten out. But when the smoke had settled we where awarded the win and on to the Top 4!
For the Top 4 battle we would be paired up against Dominic Rotondo and his LS3 V8. This would be a battle of redemption for me as we had been taken out by Dom in Round 2 for 3rd place. With that in mind I put it all out on the lead run to do my best to solidify the win. During Round 2 Dom was a little quicker, giving him the win, but with our new tire set up I was able to stay right on his door and put the car where I wanted to get the win.
We would now be paired up against Alex Grimm and his Datsun 240z running a modified LS V8. Alex had done great all night and we really dig his unique build. During my follow run he had taken a little bit of a strange line going into the infield, making it not feel very natural to follow. I had done my best but the judges deemed it a On More Time. After a quick tire change we lined right back up. I put down a solid lead run and was feeling very confident. Then on the follow run at the first initiation the car felt like it had slipped out from under me. I had no idea what had happened but did my best to keep it together. Unfortunately it was too large of a mistake and Alex was awarded the win. Later, while pulling the car back up on the trailer we noticed that the oil catch can had over flowed and split oil all over the front right wheel and the entire suspension area.
If I’m honest, this is our least favorite track in the Top Drift series, so to us this was a great outcome. We where able to keep the car in one piece and land on the 2nd place podium spot, walking away with great points for the over all championship.
See you guys at Round 4 on August 27!
Photo by David Karey @ AmDrift.com
Written by Adam Knapik