The fifth round of the 2018 Formula Drift Championship once again saw Worthouse domination, as Piotr Wiecek took first position in qualifying and went on to take third place, while teammate James Deane pulled his second consecutive victory out of the bag to extend his lead at the top.
Once again, the Worthouse duo demonstrated their style, flair and technical ability while qualifying in their Quaife QBE69G equipped Nissans. Straight out the gate in his first run, Piotr was a man on a mission – an aggressive and fast navigation of the track followed, with the Polish driver following the judges’ line in a near-perfect manner. With 96 points scored, Piotr shot straight to the top of the qualifying leaderboard.
James followed with a technically brilliant and consistent run, accurately hitting all the clipping points and again on the judges’ line. With slightly less impact than the high bar that Piotr had set, James scored a 93. Piotr wouldn’t be able to better his score on his second run, while James managed to add one point to his tally, taking him into fourth qualifying position. With Piotr earning a bye run as top qualifier, James soon followed through into the Top 16 by out-driving Kyle Mohan.
Piotr’s first Top 16 battle would be Jeff Jones. The two drivers exchanged blows over two scrappy runs and took it to ‘One More Time’. In the re-run, Piotr put on the pressure on the banked first turn, nudging Jones around the course and securing a place in the Great 8. James’s Top 16 battle against Ken Gushi would be more straightforward, with Gushi leaving a large gap whilst following James around the bank. In the second run, and with James chasing, the Worthouse driver gave Gushi space at first and then closed in, nudging Gushi across the line. James subsequently joined Piotr in the Great 8!
Piotr’s next opponent was Alex Heilbrunn. Piotr’s first lead run remained aggressive and consistent, reaching high on the long banked first corner, and running millimetre close to each of the clipping zones. Eager to match this on run two, Heilbrunn aimed high, making heavy contact with the outer wall, but somehow stayed on track. Unfortunately for Piotr, Heilbrunn shut it down around the last corner, causing the Worthouse drifter to make a slight impact with the back of the BMW. Minor damage was done, but Piotr was in the Semi Finals!
Fellow Falken driver Matt Field lined up against James Deane in the other Great 8 battle. James led first and Field’s chase run was strong, the Falken Corvette sticking to James’s door, albeit at the slight cost of angle. In run two, James answered back with style, somehow getting even closer to Field than in the previous run. It was a close call, but the judges had seen enough – James also made it through to the Semi Finals, meeting a worthy opponent!
For the second time in two rounds, the Worthouse team lined up against each other. The two near-identical cars were side-by-side facing the first turn, this time for a place in the Finals! On the first run Piotr took the lead, again high on the bank, with James chasing with very close proximity. Piotr extended the first turn slightly too far which resulted in two wheels leaving the track – Deane was consequently blanketed in Piotr’s smoke, somehow making it through. They swap places and go again for run two, James initially fast, but Piotr right there on his door, rubbing wheel-to-door all the way around the bank as the crowds went wild! Piotr left nothing on the table, but the slight mistake in the first run cost him the battle.
And so, it was James versus Ryan Tuerck in the Finals, with a second consecutive victory for James Deane on the horizon. James led into turn one, with Tuerck chasing – he was a comfortable distance behind but seemed hesitant to close the gap on the Irishman. A good, clean run ensured they switched places without any drama. Run two and James chased – he left space behind Tuerck on initiation but then closed the gap rapidly around the back, using his grip advantage to close in on Tuerck’s door. James remained in Tuerck’s immediate shadow through the remainder of the transitions and across the line.
With the judges unanimous, James Deane was named as the winner of Formula Drift Round Five in Monroe, Washington, while teammate Piotr Wiecek took third place on the podium! Speaking about his and Piotr’s battles, James commented: “The two of us were going hard and having a blast. Before we went on track we were pointing at each other and laughing. It’s hard to believe we’re in Formula Drift battling in the Semi Finals! Driving with this man is a crazy feeling – he’s one of the most aggressive drivers in the world and my favourite chase driver. To have him as a teammate, and a friend, and to have all this fun together is just a dream.”
James’s second consecutive victory further extends his lead at the top of the championship, while Piotr’s fantastic finish jumps him up into third place, just 35 points behind Fredric Aasbø. If the team continue at this pace, their only competition for the 2018 Formula Drift title will be each other!
Round Six of the 2018 Formula Drift Championship takes place in St Louis, Missouri at Gateway Motorsports Park on August 10-11. With just three rounds left in the championship, Team Worthouse are aiming to end the season on a high and defend the top honours going into 2019.