Formula DRIFT Canada RECAP Round 1

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There was a lot of doubt in the air with dark clouds, heavy rains, and thunderstorms looming at the horizon.  Nobody had any idea what to expect.  All options were on the table: cancel the event, re-schedule, or modify the existing schedule. Finally, the organizers decided to leave everything as is. In the end, those who kept the faith got rewarded with one of the most exciting drift competition to ever take place in Canada.

As soon as practice started we knew we were dealing with a whole new level of competition says Haig Kanadjian, one the the three judges of the event. For the first time at l’Autodrome St-Eustache, the first clipping point was set-up right at the entrance of the track. It was impressive since judges and spectators alike could not see the cars accelerate from behind the grandstands until they would suddenly appear on track at speeds hovering around 125 – 130km/h, just seconds before initiating their first drift towards the first clipping point.

Francis Tassé was the driver who was able to hit the highest top speed during practice with 137 km/h on the clock. The new layout counted 6 clipping points; four interior clipping points and 2 exterior ones. Judges were also pleased to see that most drivers had the ability to complete the layout with fluidity and with minimal corrections. In fact, the little amount of accidents throughout the event spoke to that matter.

To judge this first event of the season, FD Canada retained the services of Haig Kanadjian and Kevin Grenier, two well- known Quebec drifters. There was also Brian Eggert, one of the 3 current FD judges. The workload between the 3 judges was divided into 3 sections:

  • Brian: Style 30 points

  • Kevin: Angle 25 points + Style 10 points

  • Haig: Line 25 points + Style 10 points

In Brian’s case, the 30 points allocated for style were also sub-divided into 3 categories: global impact, fluidity, and engagement.

Kevin and Haig on the other hand broke down their first 25 points by six for each clipping point. The first 5 clipping points were given 4 points each and the last one 5 points, for a total of 25 points.  As for the 10 points allocated for style, each of the two judges would look at one specific area of the track.  In Haig’s case, he focused on the very first clipping point, ‘It’s an important moment because it often gives the tone to the rest of the lap’.  As for Kevin, he focused on the first outer clipping point at the back of the track, where drivers were expected to get as close as possible with their rear bumpers.  What is interesting is that 50% of the total score is given for style, a reminder that drifting is all about the show!

It was not long before the qualifications reflected the performances seen by the judges during practice. Jeff Laflamme marked the best score with a solid 92 points. ‘It was almost a perfect run. With Laflamme, we are always on the edge of our seats. We think he is about to spin out because he has so much angle but he manages to keep things under control,’ says Haig.

Jonathan Guitard placed second during qualifications. ‘Guitard seems to have benefited from the tips he got all weekend from veteran drifter Marco Santos,’ says Haig.


As for third place, it was taken by Scion driver Pat Cyr. ‘I think Pat runs one of the best tires on the market,’ explains Haig.  Combined with the power of his 2JZ, the lightweight of his car, and his talent and experience, Pat seems to have found a winning combination. In fact, Haig also believes that Scion FR-S drivers, such as Pat or Ryan Tuerck for example, took a few years to figure out the new chassis but have now found the recipe for success.

TOP 16

Top 16 started on the right foot.  First, the weather was holding out and all drivers got to run on the dry. Second, the Top 16 took shape into nail biting battles and tight races.  The judges had their work cut out.  There were several instances where they had to break down each decision, review the replays, and make tough calls.

After many fierce battles, the crowd got rewarded with a picture perfect finale. Pat Cyr and Francis Doyon gave a great show. Pat showed a lot of consistency and Doyon had a lot of angle. In the end, Pat was able to leverage his talents as a ‘’chaser’’, keeping things real close to Doyon’s car.  Doyon on his end had a harder time keeping up with Pat’s Scion FR-S.  Although Pat lost a few points for hitting a cone, he still managed to come out on top. Haig does point out that Doyon is a rising star, ‘If he keeps doing what he is doing now, there is little doubt he will become one of the next stars of the show’.

The other battle for a step on the podium pitched Francis Tassé against Jeff laflamme.  Laflamme who mastered his car all weekend lost control during the fight which gave the win to Tassé.  Since 3rd place is decided by comparing qualification scores (Doyon 77 – Laflamme 92), Laflamme took 3rd place.

So the fight for the top spot was between Francis Tassé and Pat Cyr.  Two very different drivers with very different cars.  Both drivers did exceptionally well but the judges gave the win to Pat Cyr. A total of 11,250$ were given out in prize money: 5000$ to 1st place, 3000$ second place, 2000$ third place, and 250$ for the remaining top 8 drivers.

The first round of the season is now in the books. Although the bad weather had a negative effect on spectatorship, the race has clearly shown that drifting in Canada is now at a whole new level. Don’t miss round 2 on July 18-19 in Montmagny.


Perception Is Reality: What Really Happened In Long Beach words Fredric Aasbo images Larry Chen

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My fellow Speedhunters, I have something on my mind that I’d like to speak to you about.

So as you might know, we ended up winning Formula Drift Long Beach and are currently leading the Formula Drift World Championship. Needless to say, winning the first round of the year is a pretty big deal, but the win came with a bit of controversy, which has had me thinking…


I mean, every corner of our Scion tC was banged up and we literally had to push the car to the podium after the clutch blew in the very last turn of the final run. But my concerns aren’t really about the car, because I know the Papadakis Racing guys have that part handled. Instead, I’m more worried about what you’ll see in the video below.

This is the first time this camera angle has been made public, and it shows exactly what happened in my runs with Ryan Tuerck. Long story short, we had a faulty shifter fork (old design) in the transmission, which didn’t allow the dog ring to fully engage, and hence wore it out prematurely. That meant 2nd gear started popping out – at this exact moment. Watching the video cracks me up as I look like a complete question mark, looking down at the shifter. ‘How could you do this to me? After all we’ve been through!” Ha!


Every Formula Drift team – in fact, every racing team – has mechanical issues. It’s inevitable when you’re trying to extract maximum performance from an orchestra of mechanical parts. But, believe it or not, I’m fine with that because not having reliability issues means you’re not out there competing.


What I’m not fine with is not staying in tune with you guys. I feel like I should, and could, do a much better job of explaining what goes on at the track in a more timely manner. Imagine if we would have been able to show this video angle on the Livestream during the event… Given that people started questioning what happened in these runs with Tuerck – some suggesting that it was on purpose – this would have given some good insight.


Also, imagine that if at this very moment the Formula Drift Livestream interviewers had headed over to Steph in the spotter tower and asked him what what was going on. Or better yet, what if the FD Livestream could tap into our radios and get the raw deal?


This isn’t criticism of FD, who I feel like have made several great changes this year. The responsibility for communicating with the drift fans also lies upon us as teams and competitors. All I’m saying is that I believe there’s so much more potential with communicating what’s going on to the spectators – and that makes me really excited about the future of drifting.


I’ve gone through the recent Formula Drift related discussions in the comments sections of various posts here on Speedhunters and I agree with a lot of it. FD has the most consistent judging of any drifting series I’ve seen, but it might not always be easy for the casual viewer to grasp all the details of a particular judged decision.


More transparency and using technology not for the judging itself, but for showing the fans why a certain run was judged the way it was would be awesome. Think American football video overlays that show distance in an easy-to-understand way that would highlight hard-to-spot details.


What do you think is the way to go to produce the best live drift video coverage? Feel free to comment below! I will chime in once I get a chance – but please know that I have my work cut out for me this weekend (see, that’s the ‘respond in a timely manner’ out the window already!). Heading into Round 2 in Atlanta I have some clear favorites…


There’s Odi Bakchis, one of the smartest guys in the scene who proved it by making the Genesis a killer right out of the gate in his first event driving the car. In my opinion, Odi is on his way to perfecting the new school drift configuration, which is basically a very grippy and fast setup that he is still able to drive on a wide, outer line without excessive understeer issues.


He definitely would have taken us out in the Long Beach finals if it wasn’t for that hit in the last turn. And for the record, I was possibly going a bit slower than normal through the last turn due to the lack of second gear, although from the seat of the pants it felt like the same speed as previous runs as the only difference is I drove it off the clutch as I stayed in third. I think the reason for the hit was that my line through that final turn is very deep (trying to cater to the judges preferred line as illustrated here) while Odi got a little too hungry and dove in on a shallow line.

Overall, I am however very impressed and inspired by Odi’s driving and engineering, and he’s just getting started!


Our Speedhunters teammate Mad Mike Whiddett is back with what is on-paper his most competitive build yet. I’ve been driving with Mike across the world over these last years and he is a fantastic driver, in both lead and follow position. Sometimes his ‘all or nothing’ approach costs him rounds, but in terms of entertainment value there’s no one better. And if everything falls into place, there’s no doubt Mike will be extremely hard to beat. I’m very excited to see you back in FD, Mike!


Then there’s good ol’ Jr. who won in Atlanta last year and beat us in the final. Will he seek redemption from Long Beach?


All I can say is this: if previous years of Formula Drift Atlanta are anything to go by, we’re in for a good one. Let’s do this!

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