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Formula Drift Florida Recap

Category : Events

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PBIR was a great track for me last year, so I was excited to go down to Florida and see if I can have another good performance. There was a lot of work done to the car in the few weeks between rounds two and three in order to get the rear of the car repaired after the crash in Atlanta. Luckily, we were able to get the car back together and all the maintenance done with plenty of time to spare. The Palm Beach track was modified this year by extending the main outer clipping zone on the left-hand turn to go completely around the outer edge of the track. This made it a bit more challenging to drive since you have to carry more speed into the outer zone, but it wasn’t a huge difference from the previous year. Another change to the track was that the initiation point was moved earlier on the straight, which made it more difficult for low-power cars, like mine, to get up to proper speed to stay wide on the first turn.

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My first few laps in Thursday practice were a bit shaky getting used to the new layout, but I soon figured it out and started working on refining my line to the judges’ guidelines. As usual, on Friday there was one short practice session before qualifying. I was driving really well in this session and putting the car right on the main outer clipping zone. My spotter was telling me that my runs are perfect and to just work on getting more angle and smoke, if possible. We felt that we could qualify in the top 5 if I could pull off another run like what I was doing toward the end of the practice session.

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In my first qualifying run, I was a bit too careful going into the main left corner outer clipping zone. I didn’t carry quite enough speed and ended up leaving the outer clipping zone too early. While it was still a good run, scoring 76.3, it wasn’t nearly as good as how I was driving in practice. It was a bit diappointing, but at the same time, I was relieved to be locked into the top 16 in the first round of qualifying.

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With qualifying completed, I learned that I would be going against Forrest Wang again in Top 32, same as Atlanta. In Friday night practice, I started working on my follow runs, but unfortunately it began to rain midway through practice. Parts of the track were wet, and parts were dry, making for dangerous conditions on a high speed track. To avoid any damage, we decided to park the car early.

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In Saturday Top 32 practice, I continued to focus on my follow runs, but I didn’t get to run with Forrest at all in practice. I knew how fast he was on the straight from having battled him in Atlanta, so that wasn’t too much of a concern. And my spotter was giving me good information on how he was doing on the rest of the track.

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During the Top 32 battle, I led first and did a solid read run with no mistakes. I was told that Forrest had a decent follow but wasn’t too close to me. My spotter was warning me that Forrest slows more than other people in the middle of the main outer zone. So on my chase run, I tried to follow him to the best of my ability but gave him a bit of room in the outer zone so as not to get bogged down behind him. After a long wait, the judges decided on a one-more-time.

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We didn’t change tires but decided to drop pressures a bit so I can close the gap on Forrest more easily. Once again, my lead run was solid and Forrest did a slightly better job chasing than the first set of runs. I didn’t want to do a run that was “good enough” and leave it up to the judges to decide the winner. On my follow run, I decided to risk it and try to get as close to Forrest as possible to make it clear that I should get the win. We initiated with a bit of a gap, and as we transitioned into the main left-hand corner, I closed the gap completely and was right on his door. Unfortunately, he was going a little slower than I expected through that corner, and I couldn’t keep the car from bogging in fourth gear. The car gripped up and caused me to straighten for a second. Forrest got the win due to that mistake.

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Even though we went out in the top 32, I’m happy with the team’s performance and my driving. It was the best I have qualified this year, and I was the closest I have been to advancing on to top 16.

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