Kevin Lawrence is a real champion. Not because of his win at Formula Drift Orlando in Pro II. Certainly not because of the struggles he encountered at FD Atlanta. Kevin Lawrence is a champion because no matter what happens, he pushes past it with class, dignity and the attitude that real champions have. Lawrence struggled at Road Atlanta and missed qualifying. The car had some significant setup changes that happened after Orlando, he had limited practice seat time and flat out had a few technical difficulties. Thats racing folks! Sometimes you win, other times you get kicked in the teeth and are forced to drink massive amounts of alcohol. But that doesn’t stop his love for the sport or the fact that when pro 2 returns to the west coast, Lawrence will be there showing them what champions look like and exactly what they do!
Kevin Lawrence now takes over our blog to recap his experience at FD Atlanta….
FORMULA DRIFT ATLANTA – PRO 2 Round 3
Photos by: Corey Denomy / Video by: Corey Denomy / Enjuku Racing
FD Atlanta was a tough one for sure, We showed up with a few changes to the car since our win in Orlando which were great changes for the better but with out proper testing of the new setup I had trouble figuring the car out. Biggest change was we were on the New Hankook RS4 tire for Atlanta after being on their Ventus V12 tire in Orlando. The V12 is a great street tire but was quite slick in Orlando for competition so jumping to the new RS4 tire in Atlanta was a huge change.
First practice I had enough time for 3 laps on track, immediately on the first lap I could tell the car was going to drive completely different. On the entry when I went to pull the hand brake for Turn 1 I was surpised to find out how grippy the new tires were as I was not even able to lock the rear wheels with the hand brake. We made some adjustments to tire pressure, shocks, and final drive gear change and got the hand brake to cooperate but the amount of grip the car had I was still struggling with getting the tires to spin in 4th gear for the exit of the course.
Second practice we went in with another gear change in the rear end and this seemed to be our ideal gear selection / wheel speed combo. However I was still struggling with getting the first turn figured out and getting the car to float enough off throttle and have the car settled just right to power through the first clip. After our mere 3 runs in the second practice it was time to be thrown to the wolves and make an attempt to qualify.
Qualifying order had me going dead last as after my first place win in Orlando put me in the points lead going into Atlanta. This is a blessing and a curse as its really awesome to be able to watch how the field does before my runs but at the same time the gap from my last practice run to my first qualifying attempt is quite some time when there is around 30 drivers taking their turn to qualify. First run out I didn’t expect the track to cool down as much as it did so I attempted to enter how I had been doing in my second practice session. With the drastic temp change to the track the grip levels had spiked up again and me not being ready for it after the hand brake initiation trying to get the car setup for the first turn was met with a huge amount of grip that swung the front end of the car back forward and caused me to understeer off the edge of the track. Frustrated with my self and the outcome I shut down my lap attempt and returned to the top of the hill to clear my head and get ready for the second attempt. After the field had all taken their second qualifying runs I was last up to bat at my qualifying attempt. Now knowing the grip levels of the track I chucked the car into the first turn way more aggressive than I had been doing all day. Finally the car got settled properly and was heading in the proper direction for the first clip. However just as I got to the front clip and go to drop the hammer and get back on throttle I’m met with the sound of my car hitting the limiter but the wheels were not spinning. Yet again my car has decided to knock itself out of gear but this time at the worst time imaginable. I hammered the shifter now as hard as i could to get it now into 3rd and complete the pass for a score but the time the car wasn’t making any movement from being in neutral was long enough to net me with my second 0 score and ending my weekend in Atlanta.
I want to give a huge shout out to the team at this round they jumped under the car multiple times to make the changes needed to help me get the car and myself figured out. Unfortunately our transmission issue is still haunting us but we have now removed the transmission to have it throughly tested on a transmission dyno to see if we can figure out if the issue is possibly a bent internal main shaft or possibly something else internally out that we just cant see with the naked eye. We will get a bunch of practice in the break between the next round and will have the car dialed and ready for Seattle!