Cornelius, NC (June 2, 2012)- To say the D’Vanz Motorsports team had a crazy couple of weeks would be a massive understatement. After crashing their car in Orlando, they only had a week and a half to turn it around and get it ready for the second Formula D/Streetwise Pro-Am event of the season. They would be competing in their 3rd event in only 4 weeks, and the pressure was on. The competition was held in Palm Beach, Florida at the Palm Beach International Raceway. It was the second time Formula D had been to this circuit, one where Doug & his DVM crew were the event’s defending champions. However, due to a track-layout/direction change, no one had any notes on car set-up.
When the series came to Palm Beach last year, the layout was a simple left, right, left affair. For 2012 however, the cars would come in from the opposite direction, start with a Flat-in-4th-right hander, followed by a tight 3rd-gear-left turn with an outside clipping-zone, followed by an even tighter right-then-left-combination. This layout would have them exiting right up against a concrete wall on the drivers-side which proved to be an “eye opener” for a few drivers. It was a much faster track design than the teams had seen the previous year and much more difficult.
The Friday practice sessions went fairly well but after qualifying in the 11th position the team was feeling a little down at nights end. DVM Crew Chief, Jon Wilburn said, “All the teams are in the same boat here, no one knows the track and we’re all working hard to find the right chassis set-up. We know we need a different rear gear ratio in the car but we can’t change it here at the track without the right parts. We just have to make do with what we have for now.” Wilburn continued, “Tomorrow we’ll make a few adjustments to the car so DV can be as confident as possible in there and the more familiar he gets with the track, the better we’ll be. After the final practice tomorrow we’ll be better, I just know it.”
As Jon predicted, the chassis adjustments the team made to the car did make it work better and a good nights sleep gave DV time to work out his lines through the course. “I feel better about our chances right now.” Van Den Brink said as he finished the morning practice session. “I feel better about the car and better about how I’m driving it. I think we’ll be good.”
By qualifying down in 11th position, our men from North Carolina would have an uphill battle as they would have the disadvantage of “following” the first lap. The pressure would be there, right from the start. First up would be Jason Jiovani in his Chevy V8 powered Nissan 240. Jason’s fast and consistent speed meant Doug would have to run clean passes with few slip-ups. On lap-1, DV maintained close distance and Jason struggled with gear selection and then lack of angle giving Van Den Brink the clear advantage. On lap-2, DV carried good entry speed into turn-1 and Jiovani spun on the exit of turn-1 giving Doug the easy victory.
In the Great 8, Doug went up against #3 Qualifier, Dan Savage, in his Chevy V8 powered Nissan 240. On lap-1, DV followed close while Savage made small corrections and strayed from the Clipping Points giving DV a slight advantage. On lap-2, the Nissan driver didn’t have the pace to keep in contact with the Ford and Van Den Brink was awarded the victory based on the lack of proximity.
In the Final 4, #2 Qualifier, Nate Hamilton, was next up. The Texas driver always brings a lot of speed and this event would be no exception. On lap-1, Hamilton led with a tight line and good entry into turn-2 with DV right on his heels. Doug was able to maintain close proximity while adding a bit more angle giving the Mustang driver a slight advantage. On the next lap, Van Den Brink used a ton of angle through turn-1, which Nate was not able to match. Then Doug laid into the Mustang’s turbo and managed to pull away slightly at the finish giving the Judges little choice but to give him the win over Hamilton.
In The Finals, DV would go up against James Evans in his fast 400+ cubic inch Chevy powered Nissan 350z. The amount of tire smoke that Evans’ car puts out would make “James Bond” proud as many drivers struggle to see where they’re going when following him. Knowing that, Doug knew he had to be right on him. As the two cars exited turn-1, the Nissan driver poured on the power from his Chevy V8 with the red & black Mustang hot on his heels. Unfortunately for Evans, he was just a little too deep on the throttle going into the corner, sliding high and wide, taking the outer Clipping point cones with him. For a second, he even got one of the clipping markers caught inside his fender, which caused him to pause for a split second. Seeing this, Van Den Brink jumped on this chance and made a very rare pass to Evans’ inside. The Nissan (after clearing the cone from its fender) tried to strike back, but DV was in position and finished the course in the lead. As with competition drifting, you’re only allowed to pass if the lead car goes off course. Evans was only off for a second and because of his close proximity, DV was able to make a clean pass and therefore, gain a huge advantage.
On lap-2, DV ran his normal line carrying good speed and angle with a very tight line around all the clips. For James Evans’ part, he also ran a great lap doing everything he could to pressure DV into a mistake. That mistake on DV’s part never came and D’Vanz Motorsports had its first win of the season!
“Man that was a crazy competition.” Van Den Brink said as he climbed down from the top step of the Podium. “We didn’t do a very good job in qualifying, but our team dug down deep and really came through strong today. I am very proud of everyone at DVM. It was a great team effort. All the drivers we battled with today drove really well and that Final with James was amazing. He’s such a good driver and his car is really fast. I feel very fortunate we were able to get by him like we did today. I think it really could have gone either way….”
After a short week and a half long break, the DVM boys will be heading north to battle the XDC competitors at the annual HyperFest weekend in Summit Point, WV. Please continue to check back with us to see how things go….