In a tandem drifting run, if everything clicks, it should look like the final lap of the best race ever – two drivers right on
the edge, their cars locked in side-by-side
formation, yet appearing as if a move for
the lead is about to be made in every turn.
It’s that kind of skill and excitement that
brings a Formula Drift crowd to its feet.
lead car is
judges really want to see is it needs to be fast, look fast, be
aggressive – but also be smooth and in control. It’s a balance.”
Impressing the judges means hitting the clipping points with the
right mix of speed, angle and aggression. Once tandem elimination
rounds begin, a new variable comes into play: direct competition.
“You do one lead run and one follow,” explains two-time
Formula Drift champion Samuel Hubinette, who drives the
No. 77 SHR Dodge Challenger. “As a lead driver, your goal is to
nail all those clipping points and follow the line without sacrificing
angle, while trying to go faster than the car following you. You’re
trying to outrun him without sacrificing line or angle. If you do all
those things right and still leave him, if he can’t connect to you
and stay close, that will give you the advantage.
“When you follow, you need to put
“It’s very demanding,” says Hubinette.
pressure on and stay on him, as close as
possible. In Formula D, the lead car is
considered a moving clipping point. Even if
he does a shallow line, you’re going to stay
with him. If you can do that without hitting
him, but be just a foot apart, and he couldn’t
do the same, you’ll have a winning run.”
The drivers say it’s tough to stay close to
a competitor while simultaneously keeping
the excitement ratcheted up. The cars
behave differently, whether it’s Hubinette’s
Dodge Challenger, Mohan’s RX- 8 or one of
the many other weapons of choice of the
Formula D top dogs. And a minor mistake by
the lead driver can cause a huge error by
the pursuer. These guys have to know who
their competition is, how they drive and
what sort of moves they like to pull.
“There’s a fine line between being too
aggressive and not aggressive enough.”
NEXT MONTH: Formula D under the skin.
TOP Samuel Hubinette dials up the speed, line and angle in qualifying. ABOVE Kyle Mohan (left) battles with 2011 pacesetter Justin Pawlak’s ’Stang. BELOW Show the judges what they want to see and you’re moving on.
Qualifying: Drivers are given two
60-SECOND EXPERT...THE FORMAT
non-consecutive laps to qualify
for the 32-car tandem elimination
rounds. The score from the best
lap counts. Each qualifying run is
scored on four criteria: speed,
line, angle and overall impression,
which is the most subjective,
but boils down to how exciting
the judges thought a run was.
Tandem elimination rounds: These
are based on two head-to-head
runs, with competitors paired up
based on seeding position. Each car
gets to lead one run. The critical
factor for success for the lead car is
to be able to run the course
error-free while being pressured by
the following car. For the following
car, it’s to try and “outdrive” the
lead car. That’s putting it simply –
way too simply. You can find out a
lot more about what the judges are
looking for at formulad.com.