Formula Drift’s season opener in Long Beach came a week earlier this year, and while a week doesn’t seem early it’s easy to say that it felt like we started two months early.
The 2017 season started with an early theme: partnerships. Chelsea Denofa joined forces with Vaughn Gittin Jr., Chris Forsberg teamed up with Ryan Tuerck, and Charles NG partnered up with Mike Essa. Denofa and JR have easily the most advantageous partnership because they are basically driving the same car. Now, instead of one set of data, there are two sets of data, and they can get the cars setup much more efficiently.
Another notable change going into 2017? Scion Racing has officially closed it’s doors and made way for Toyota Racing, a truly legendary name in racing.
However, the biggest pre-season buzz came from overseas in the form of one tall Irishman (James Deane) and a Polish fellow (Piotr Wiecek). It’s been seven long years since James Deane drove in Formula Drift and everyone was curious to see how he would do since Formula Drift has changed so much.
Enter stage left: Rad Dan joins the ranks of Pro 1 in his ridiculously cool Toyota Supra.
Also returning to Pro 1 is Nate Hamilton, who earned his Pro 1 license alongside Rad Dan in Pro 2!
Matt Coffman has the best livery of the season and we really have to hand it to his designer, Factory83, who was able to accomplish one of the most stunning schemes I’ve seen in recent years. It combined reflective and dark chrome elements to give the livery crazy levels of depth, I really want to get the opportunity to light it and show it off.
Beyond that, it was a fairly normal Formula Drift round, there was great driving, generally judging calls that made sense, and just a little bit of drama.
There’s currently some speculation online about what happened right before the hairpin between Bluss and Aasbo, most people putting Aasbo at fault and claiming he intentionally brake checked Bluss, causing him to spin.
Inevitably it came down to the stellar wheelwork of James Deane to secure him the victory in Long Beach. He mentioned that he was driving well beyond his personal limits, but I would argue we have yet to see James Deane at his limits. With Orlando just a few weeks away, we are really hoping for another shakeup and we’ve love to see James Deane on top yet again.