Following a strong start at the first round of the 2018 Formula Drift championship, the season is now in full flow and the Worthouse Drift Team chase down yet more silverware in Orlando, Florida.
While last season the focus was on establishing the team’s presence in this world-class championship, this year sees teammates James Deane and Piotr Więcek tackle an even tougher task – following on from the most successful debut season in Formula Drift history. All eyes are on Worthouse – now they have to meet expectations. And they would do exactly that in qualifying, with James putting down two near flawless runs, scoring 96 and 97 points respectively, and placing him firmly in 2nd place. Piotr would almost match this performance, netting 94 and 95 points respectively, and securing 4th place. Collectively, Worthouse were once again dominating qualifying.
The Top 32 would see just one Worthouse car on the grid, with James receiving a bye into the Top 16 due to his higher qualifying position. Piotr’s route would first see him line up against Austin Meeks – the Polish driver maintaining a consistent line through the course during his lead run, before chasing Meeks with proximity and taking the win.
The team’s first Top 16 pairing would see an on-form Piotr return to the track to face former Pro2 driver Dirk Stratton. Piotr delivered a textbook qualifying line when leading, before closing in on Stratton’s door when chasing to leave zero doubt in the judges’ minds as to who should advance. The team’s good form would continue, as James would line up to face fellow fan‐favourite Forrest Wang. Both drivers bring with them a sense of style and aggression and many would see this as the most anticipated battle from the weekend. Into the first turn and it quickly became evident that Wang was unable to match James’s pace and angle, with the Worthouse driver establishing a high line and solid angle. In James’s chase run, Wang would make contact with the wall, and then shut down mid-course, causing the two cars to collide. Little damage was done, and the judges would rule in James’s favour, granting him a place in the Top 8.
Piotr’s Top 8 pairing would see him battle former Formula Drift champion and veteran Chris Forsberg. Piotr’s lead run was, once again, by the book, with him sticking the familiar red, white and blue Worthouse livery to the outer wall on turn one, and following the judges’ line to a tee. However, on Piotr’s chase run the Worthouse driver would scrub off too much speed at an unfortunate moment whilst closing in on Forsberg, allowing Forsberg a chance to accelerate away and create enough of a gap to snatch the victory. There are no easy battles at this level of competition, but James would also be tested in the Top 8, lining up against fellow Falken driver Odi Bakchis. In a repeat of the last time the two met, a well-fought battle would leave little between them, but the judges would see enough of an advantage in James’s performance to progress him through to the semi-.‐final for the second time this season.
In the semi-.‐final, James’s adversary would be Ryan Tuerck. As always, James would put down a consistent and unfaltering lead run, forcing Tuerck to push up on James to try and stay close. Swapping places, James knew that he would have to put on a strong performance to force a mistake on Tuerck’s behalf. Straight into turn one and James would navigate the high bank just inches from Tuerck’s door, and would remain there for the majority of the run. It was a close battles but the judges had seen enough – James had secured a place in the finals in Orlando.
James’s opponent for the top step of the podium at round two would be none other than Chris Forsberg, the driver responsible for ending Piotr’s day earlier in the competition. With excitement palpable at Orlando Speedworld, the two drivers set off from the line, with James taking the initial lead run into the fast and dangerous first turn. James would pull off yet another textbook run, forcing a key mistake from Forsberg coming off the bank. However, as in Long Beach, luck would not be on James’s side, and an unforeseen mechanical failure would send James into the wall, ending his competition. A power steering failure was found to be at fault, but thankfully James remained unscathed and the car is already undergoing repair for round three.
Despite this unfortunate ending, Worthouse once again scored fantastic results at Orlando, with a 2nd & 4th in qualifying and another podium finish. James currently sits in 2nd place, with Piotr just 50 points behind in 4th place as we go into round three in Atlanta on May 11-.‐12th. We’ll see you there…
Images, text and video provided by The Worthouse Drift Team, see a video roundup on their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCryTmbs4Kr2rf4gzAzy0eCw