Doug Van Den Brink and his D’Vanz Motorsports crew were back out for their first drift event of the season this past weekend at Formula Drift- Atlanta. The event took place at the venerable Road Atlanta race circuit in Braselton, Georgia and from all early indications, this year’s event attendance figures were even higher than they have been in the previous 6 years.
For the DVM crew, the event began Thursday with some much needed testing. “This has been a really long winter”, Van Den Brink said. “We had hoped to do some testing during the off-season, but we had to rebuild the engine and do updates to the car to comply with the 2010 rules. Needless to say, our testing budget was completely used up”.
Besides just being “rusty”, Doug had to get used to his new Falken RT-615K tires. These new offerings by Falken Tire are significantly “grippier” than the previous models requiring significant adjustments to the Mustang’s suspension to account for it. Not to mention the difference in feel that Doug had to come to “grips” with. “This new tire is great and it will be a huge help to us once I figure out how to take advantage of it. What surprised me most is how well it wore, I was really expecting to go through a ton of them but we got really good wear. In the end, I think this new tire might even save us some money in that we’ll be able to use less of them.”
After some good laps on Thursday, the team set out to prepare themselves for Friday qualifying. After the long line of some 40+ cars made their laps, Doug was firmly in the field with a 24th qualifying position. “It’s not as good as I had hoped for but I’m very glad that we got into the top-32,” Van Den Brink said after the session.
Friday night the track temp dropped some 35-degrees and many of the teams struggled with finding a “set-up” that worked in the cool of the night. The boys had their challenges as well as their car. With far too much grip, Doug fought the entire way through the 1 1/2 hour long session.
Saturday, “Event day” brought back warmer temps and the team quickly got back to their earlier form. As the morning warm-up progressed, Doug got faster and faster coming down the hill into turn-1. “I think on one of my last passes we had an entry speed of 90mph and finished it off with a really good rest of the lap. I think we’re going to be in good shape come the tandem “tsuiso” eliminations”. Doug said afterwards.
Doug’s 24th starting spot meant he would be paired-up with the 12th place qualifier, Samuel Hubinette. Samuel, besides being one of Doug’s friends (outside the track) and one of the guys who introduced Doug to the sport of drifting many years ago, Sam is also a 2-time Formula Drift series champion and driver of the factory backed Dodge Challenger. Needless to say, going up against this seasoned veteran was going to be a huge challenge for the DVM crew.
On lap one, DV gave chase. Samuel was able to pull a slight gap on Doug going into turn one and then maintain that gap throughout the run. On the second lap, VDB took the lead. “I ran down into turn one hard but ran a little wide on the exit. This slowed my momentum down a tiny bit and Sam’s right front bumped into my left rear. I added a little more opposite lock and stood on the gas. It was my fault I lost forward progress so I just carried on with it. I think I actually pulled out on him by the end of the lap but he did a great job of keeping more angle in his car so the judges awarded him the win.” Doug went on to say.
With everything said and done, it was a good outing for Doug and his crew. With less “seat-time” than their fellow competitors, they were able to show good pace and good skills throughout the weekend. The DVM Team continued to impress those “in the know” that realize the mammoth task of just qualifying for the event, let alone laying down some really competitive runs.
Next up for Doug and his team will be round 3 of the Formula Drift championship: The Gauntlet at Wall Speedway in New Jersey on June 4-5, 2010. Last year the team had a good showing and with a little luck and some hard driving, this year’s event should be even better…