The fourth and final round of Formula Drift ProSPEC recently took place at the newest track for the series at Utah Motorsports Campus. Famous for the title of the longest track in the US, this new course offered drivers a chance to hit record high speeds and drive a track that differs from the normal oval course.
#TeamLinkECU driver Rich Whiteman headed into practice with a lot of confidence, as a majority of his experience is on road courses, and he has been pleading for a high-speed course for some time! Practice started with the earliest Formula Drift morning in history as drivers cruised into their hotpits at 6am under the cover of darkness. With exception of 2-3 drivers, no one had any experience on the new course so practice would be vital.
First lap onto the course and Rich exclaimed over the comms, “I LOVE THIS TRACK”! The team was in good spirits, the car was working perfectly, and each lap the car positioning kept improving. One issue that plagued a lot of drivers was understeer, but as more rubber was added the track started to come around.
Moving straight from practice into Qualifying, the goal was to lay down a smooth lap and push 80% just to ensure that we made it into the show. Rich scored an 83 which placed him in 5th place for Qualifying and solidified a great starting point on the bracket.
Friday morning the cars were back on track for warm-up and then straight into competition. Unlike the previous ProSPEC rounds this year, the competition would run from Top 32 straight to the finish. Rich was up against Jack Davis and pulled up to line confidently; however, Jack had some car issues and was not able to complete the battle. With an easy pass into Top 16 Rich left the line for a Bye-Run but noticed a lack of power. Upon finishing Zone 3 the car had a major engine failure.
The team jumped into action and started searching for a replacement motor, but with the revised schedule ProSPEC only had 2 hours before Top 16; unlike previous rounds where Top 16 would occur the next day. Unfortunately, no one in the field had a motor that could be swapped so the team made the best of the scenario and decided to mount the Freedom Motorsportz / ENEOS Racing JZX100 front panels onto KoruWorks / WireCare teammate Ricky Hofmann’s S14! This would give Rich the opportunity to still be present during the Top 16 ceremony, give the sponsors additional exposure, and provide a laugh for the FD fans and staff.
The round ended earlier than hoped with a 9th place finish and landing in 12th overall of the 2022 season. The year was full of ups and downs but canvased in huge improvements and lessons learned. Going into 2023 the team will take this knowledge and continue to enhance the program and continue to pursue a championship!