Round 2 of competition in the 2019 Formula Drift Season brings us to Orlando Speedworld in sunny Orlando, Florida. Here in Orlando, the drivers have their work cut out for them as they have a difficult track to contend with. For most drivers, the main trouble comes from the transition point between the bank and the flat portion of the track, which is quite abrupt, very hard on the cars themselves, and can even sometimes de-bead a tire...resulting in an incomplete run. Due to these additional factors, the drivers have an even more difficult set of tasks ahead to keep solidly in their mind throughout each run - having to adjust speed, angle, and following distance accordingly to stay competitive but avoid contact and vehicle damage.
Aurimas "Odi" Bakchis
Odi came into Orlando strong, having piloted his Vortech V-7 YSi-B Supercharged Nissan S14.5 to victory in Round 1 of competition in Long Beach. Not letting a single ounce of that momentum go to waste, Bakchis qualified #5, and continued his hard charge into Top 32 competition.
Odi faced Austin Meeks in Top 32, taking an agressive line high on the bank against the wall in his lead lap, keeping Meeks at a significant distance throughout the lead lap. On his chase lap, Odi stayed close through the run, even throwing in a little twitch past the final clipping point putting him door to door with the ATS-V of Meeks and clearly giving Odi the Round and moving him on to Top 16.
In Top 16, Odi went up against Ken Gushi and his Toyota 86. On his lead run, Bakchis once again initiated high on the bank, but Gushi was too aggressive and made contact with Bakchis, causing Gushi to spin out. The judges deemed Gushi at fault for the contact, and Odi went into his chase lap with a comfortable advantage. Gushi did push hard in his lead lap, but it was not enough to make up for his error in the previous lap, moving Bakchis on to the Great 8 Semi-Finals.
Bakchis had a pair of Mustangs to contend with in the next 2 Rounds, going up against his Falken teammate Justin Pawlak in the Great 8, and then Vaughn Gitten, Jr. in the Final 4. Pawlak and Bakchis both pushing very hard resulting in a split decision from the judges, but Bakchis' proximity in his chase lap gave him the win. The battle vs. Gitten was an epic one, with both drivers doing everything right and making the judges call for One More Time not once but twice. A small mistake from Gitten on the 2nd One More Time allowed Bakchis to move on the the Finals.
The final was set to be an exciting one, as Bakchis was looking to extend his points lead and make it 2 in a row, but he would have to face down the most successful driver in Formula Drift history in Chris Forsberg. In his lead lap, Bakchis put distance between himself and Forsberg, as Forsberg could not seem to get sufficient proximity to be effective. In the chase lap, Forsberg de-beaded a tire and received an incomplete, making Aurimas "Odi" Bakchis the winner of Formula Drift Orlando.
Pat Goodin was in his element going into Round 2, having home track advantage at Orlando Speedworld. Qualifying in the 9th position, things continued to look good for Pat going into the Top 32 elimination rounds. In his lead lap versus Jeff Jones in Top 32, Goodin threw it hard and high up on the wall, creating massive amounts of smoke and actually losing Jones in the transition from the bank to the flat, where Jones straightened out and fell way behind. On the chase lap, Jeff Jones put a good amount of distance on Goodin, but it would prove to not quite be enough to make up for the error in the previous lap. Pat Goodin was deemed the winner, and moved on to Top 16.
In the next round vs. Forrest Wang, Goodin started on his chase lap as both drivers initiated hard against the wall with great angle, but Goodin lost momentum at the transition point and got way out of shape, straightening out, hitting the clipping point dead center with his front bumper, and having to re-initiate. The lead lap for Goodin would prove to not be sufficient to make up for the previous error, and Pat Goodin's weekend came to an unfortunate end.
The Beast From the Bay Matt Field comes into Orlando with his Vortech V-7 YSi-B Supercharged C6 Corvette ready to do battle, qualifying in the #11 spot. In Top 32 competition, Matt went up against Dylan Hughes. On Field's lead lap, Hughes struggled on initiation, falling far behind of Field. Hughes was able to charge back and close the proximity later in the lap, but the mistake had been made. Field's chase lap saw him relax and take an easier line, and it was enough for him to move on to Top 16.
Chasing electrical gremlins earlier in the day had caused Matt to call a time out during Top 32, Field continued to push hard despite these issues against Chelsea DeNofa. A near collision by DeNofa on Matt's lead run led to a particularly impressive bit of driving by DeNofa, which must have also impressed the judges, because when the smoke had cleared, Matt Field's weekend had ended and Chelsea DeNofa was moving on to the Great 8.
The Vortech V-7 YSi Supercharged KoruWorks 350Z came up against Forrest Wang in Top 32 action. Both drivers gave great lead and chase laps, throwing it hard around the bank and keeping great angle, smoke, and proximity. However, Litteral overshot inside clipping zone 2 on his chase lap, giving Wang just enough to get the win over the KoruWorks 350Z and put an early end to Litteral's journey in Orlando.
With 2 out of 2 Vortech Supercharged wins this season, the excitement is building to epic proportions going into Round 3 in Atlanta. Stay tuned to find out who takes the podium and about all the rest of the action!
Thanks and photo credit to 9nine2, Larry Chen, and FormulaDrift.com.