Wiped off the 2020 schedule due to COVID-19 restrictions, Formula DRIFT has put the pandemic cancellations in the back view and finally made its debut at the iconic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ – the legendary NHRA sector converted into Brand new 8 shaped drift cycle. Not surprisingly, the stands were packed, and this was Formula DRIFT’s biggest event on the East Coast to date.
similar to Previous tour in OrlandoRaceway Park hosted teams for both the Formula DRIFT PRO Championship Round 3: Autozone Gauntlet presented by TYPE S, and the Link ECU PROSPEC Round 2. Which created a packed schedule that saw teams start practicing on Thursday so the drivers could create some muscle memory of the winding course. . On Friday, both tournaments held their qualifying rounds, and the new Knockout Qualifier (KQF) format decided the positions. Unfortunately, the lighting issue meant that some FD PRO qualifying venues had to be pushed into Saturday mornings, but this led to more tire-burning action for fans to enjoy.
With nearly half of the teams joining Novice drivers in the 2021 Link ECU PROSPEC Championship, the new Englishtown course will provide an even playing field in terms of vehicle settings and perfect drift lines. With 35 drivers competing for only 32 places in the competition, the pressure was on everyone to find a clean race.
2020 Champion Dmitry Protsky (Belarus), driving the Essa Autosport/ISC Suspension BMW E46, made a strong start, qualifying first and earning a farewell round in 16th place. Top 1 Oil Chick / Drift Nissan S14. And while both drivers were making good progress, Rawlings’ error in the chase position, combined with a consistent performance from Brutskiy, gave him the win.
Moving into the top eight, his opponent Mika Diaz (USA) was driving a HoldFast/GT Radial/Proper Fabworks BMW E46. Brutskiy eventually won the entire BMW fight, but not before the judges called for One More Time (OMT). When the sprint was repeated, Brotsky again set a fast paced, squeezing Diaz into a foul as he tried to keep close. With his cleanest chase, Protsky headed into the top four to meet rookie Josiah Valles (Canada) in his DriftHQ/FDF Raceshop Nissan S14.
Brotsky showed no mercy to the novice, and got the win back thanks to a superior chase. With Nuback taking third place by virtue of his qualifying position better than Valles (who would finish fourth as the best rookie), Protsky simply had to eliminate Austin Mata (USA) in the final.
Sticking with the winning formula, Brutskiy ran deep and clean in pole position. And while Matta was pretty close to the wheel of a Don’t Matta Racing Nissan S14, he knew his own lead had to be on the money. Unfortunately, Matta pushed a little too hard and hit the wall in Outside Zone 3. With three wheels on his buggy, Matta took the second step onto the podium as Brutskiy climbed to the top.
“This win meant a lot to me because Englishtown is the closest path to my home,” said Brotsky after the cup ceremony. “I had a lot of friends and family here, so it was great to put on a show and really get to the top.”
Just like PROSPEC, the 2021 FD PRO Championship is bursting at the seams with talented drivers. Through some matrix glitches, FD NJ’s top four FD PRO qualifications are placed in exactly the same order as in the previous round. That means Chelsea Denova (USA) was once again on top and eager to see if he could have another perfect weekend by qualifying and finishing first. But that wasn’t in the cards: Tonight was King Matt Field (USA) at the Falken Tire/Drift Cave Chevrolet Corvette, who took his first win since 2016.
The atmosphere became even more dramatic with the help of Mother Nature: The torrential rain moved in shortly after the teams introduced the FD PRO Championship. Since no one exercised in wet conditions, the drivers were allowed to see one lap before each heat.
With a torrential rain at the start of the Top 32, it was nearly impossible to find grip, causing tires to scribble to buy. This was especially evident in the uphill qualifying fight between eventual winner Field and Jonathan Hurst (USA) in the Cash Racing Infiniti G37. Despite the slippery track, Field and Hurst delved deep into the track on their respective tracks, flirting with solid barriers. The chase location was actually much more challenging as drivers struggled to find proximity while anticipating the lead car’s path.
After their first rounds, the judges asked OMT because Field and Hurst were equally in the lead and bogged down in the chase. The third and fourth runs were more ordered, but there was no clear winner. So the drivers again went to OMT. Five runs that eventually separated from Hearst. A light collision between the two, with Hearst in pursuit mode, pushed the field off the line. With Hearst’s assessment wrong, Field simply had to complete a clean six to advance.
Things weren’t any easier in the top 16 as the field, who finished second in the FD PRO Championship, faced Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis, the current points leader and teammate of Falken Tire.
Backshes is not at the top by chance. His accuracy and aggressiveness are legendary: he’s able to put the Vulcan tires / Feal Nissan S15 suspension exactly where they need to be. However, Bakchis struggled with his streaks in a chasing position, ran lower than the field. His early elimination was a huge opportunity for his opponents, but Bakshis only relegated to second place behind Field in the FD PRO Championship once the points were counted from FD NJ.
In the top eight, Field was matched against Dean Kearney (Ireland) in the Oracle Lighting/Team Karnage Viper. This will be another fight to the death: the Irishman is at the top of his game and the Snake always has a lot of power. Unfortunately, this force may have contributed to the spin during the central transition, leaving Kearney with an incomplete run. Needing a buildup of pressure in the second round, Kearney hit the field, aborting the drift and taking him out of the fray.
At Top 4, Field met Tuerck and another epic battle erupted. After their first rounds, the judges requested OMT because both drivers hit the marks perfectly in pole position, while maintaining good close proximity in the chase. With repeat runs, the decision went into the field by ruling marginally deeper lines in his chase trajectory.
It was the end of a long dry spell for Field, whose first-round victory came in the Irwindale Final in 2016. It was also his first Corvette win since he delivered it in 2018.
“It’s great to get to win tonight,” he said after the celebrations on the podium. “It’s too late for that win, and it’s great to finally get a win in the Corvette.”
Lake Erie Speedway will host Round 4 of the Formula DRIFT PRO Championship from July 9-10. head for formulad.com For competition schedule, ticket information, driver profiles, special content, and live event broadcasts.
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