Wall by name, wall by nature, as both James and Piotr’s machines tussle with the ring of armco at Wall Speedway, New Jersey. It’s the fourth round of the 2018 Formula Drift season and, at this crucial half-way point in the season, the Worthouse drift team makes its mark on the competition and sends a reminder as to why Piotr and James are the drivers to beat this year.
Having broken and replaced a suspension control arm in practice, Piotr’s first qualifying run was initially understandably hesitant. However having navigated turn one, he would go on to complete a solid lap, landing him a respectable 87 points. James would follow, uncharacteristically biting hard into the wall and causing a slight correction. A solid remainder would net James one more point than Peter, ensuring both were in a good position. During run two, Piotr would push a little too hard, dragging his Worthouse S15 around the wall on the first turn. Unable to break away from the armco, Piotr would make the wise choice to shut the run down, resulting in an incomplete, but avoiding further damage. On James’s final run, he finds the sweet spot, skimming the wall on turn one and performing a millimeter-precise navigation of the remaining clipping points. With 93 points scored, James qualifies in 3rd place, while Piotr sits in 14th position.
As fate would have it, James and Piotr’s qualifying positions would put them on a crash course to meet early in the competition. Piotr’s Top 32 battle against Ryan Litteral wasn’t to be, as Litteral’s car suffered engine failure prior to the run, granting Piotr a bye into the Top 16. James’s opponent would be Kazuya Taguchi – a textbook lead run by James sees Taguchi falter behind, going off-line several times. In his chase run, James puts pressure on Taguchi and, following a spin by Taguchi, James goes on into the Top 16 too.
The red, white and blue Worthouse colours occupy both sides of the start line in the Top 16 as Piotr and James meet in battle. The two have driven together countless times around the world, in demonstration, practice and competition, so the crowd know they were in for a treat. However, there are no team orders here and, with both drivers fighting for championship positions, it would be their toughest battles so far. James would lead first, with Piotr putting huge pressure on in turn one, making light contact and dislodging a headlamp. The two drivers wowed the crowd throughout the remainder of the run, running within inches of each other through to the finish line. On run two, Piotr took the lead and James returned the favour, nudging Piotr around the banking. However, Piotr’s car unexpectedly went into limp mode, sapping power in turn two, forcing him to shut down the run. Not the end that either driver wanted to see, but regardless James progresses into the Top 8.
Come James’s Top 8 battle against Ken Gushi, the Worthouse driver has an unrivalled confidence going into turn one, and pulls a large gap on Gushi around the banking. Gushi makes up the gap at the cost of angle, but James takes a strong advantage going into his chase run. The two line up again and James proves why he’s the master of chasing in Formula Drift, unanimously beating Gushi to a spot in the semi finals.
The semi finals are an all-Falken Tire affair, with James facing Odi Bakchis and Justin Pawlak battling Matt Field. James chases Bakchis first, pursuing with unreal proximity. A close catfight ensues, with James making small corrections to maintain such a close gap. Into run two and Odi knows he has to match James’s first chase, which he does – it’s a One More Time! A mirror performance takes place, with James tucking in on Odi’s door around the banked oval and twisting infield. On their final run it looks as if nothing will separate the two drivers, however Odi pushes a little too hard on the final turn and the smallest of mistakes hands James a place in the finals!
Just one more battle stands between James and his first victory of the season, and it would be Falken stablemate Matt Field lining up alongside him. Under the floodlights of Wall Speedway, James takes the lead run and, once again, sticks to the correct qualifying line around the circuit, with Field’s Corvette laying down an aggressive chase. They switch places and it’s James’s battle to lose. Around turn one James has incredible proximity to Field; the S15 and Corvette almost touching doors. James applies the pressure through the remaining turns, tucking up on Field again as they cross the line.
There’s not much in it, but the judges have seen enough – James Deane is the winner of Formula Drift 2018 round four and takes the third Worthouse podium and first team victory of 2018!
The victory puts James in a commanding lead position going into the second half of the season as he defends his 2017 title. Piotr’s season is an a fantastic place too, with him currently sitting in fourth place, just 87 points shy of the lead. Will the 2018 championship come down to an inter-Worthouse battle? We can only hope so! Join us for the fifth round of the 2018 season in Monroe, Washington on 20-21 July.
Images, text and video provided by The Worthouse Drift Team, see a video roundup on their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCryTmbs4Kr2rf4gzAzy0eCw