The FormulaD Round Two event at Road Atlanta marked the fifth time the series has competed on this track, and was the home of the first FormulaD event ever held. True to form, the action was intense and the results indicate that this will likely be the most exciting season in FD history. The Rockstar/AEM team fought hard, with Tanner notching the #1 Qualifier position and Steph qualifying for eliminations at the #10 spot in the unseeded field.
Tanner was third in points going into Atlanta after his finish in Long Beach, and with the level of competition seen at Round One it was evident to the team that every round will be critical to repeat a championship in 2008. The team changed gearing in the Z several times during practice rounds to ensure the car had the best combination of drivability and wheel speed. The work paid off with Tanner securing the #1 Qualifier position with a 94 MPH entry speed.
Tanner advanced past the 32-car round and faced Kenji Yamanaka and his Signal/Maziora S14 Silvia. Kenji put forth a good battle considering the power his car was making, but he was unable to hang with the Rockstar/AEM Z's 500+ ponies when following, giving Tanner the advantage in the first tandem round.
Tanner faced Ryan Tuerck and his Gardella/Mobil 1 Solstice In the Great 8 Round. After leading the first run Tanner had a 9-7 point advantage on Ryan, meaning he didn't need to push too hard when following to advance to the Final 4 Round. Commented Tanner, "I gave him space on the straight knowing that the sticky Toyo tires would allow me to catch up, but I actually underestimated the grip of the Z and ended up door-to-door with Ryan by the end of the first corner." Tanner backed off to avoid hitting him during the transition, but he put the back wheels of the Z onto the un-swept marbles at Road Atlanta and the car continued to float until the rear tires touched the grass. It was only for a moment and Tanner was able to reel Ryan back in, but according to FormulaD rules, if two tires go off the track it equates to a zero-point run. Although Tanner did not advance to the Final Four round, his efforts at Road Atlanta kept him in the third overall position in the series a mere 10 points off the lead.
"It was disappointing that we were unable to advance but we have to honor the rules. We are happy to maintain our position in the overall standings though, and we know we are going to have to work very hard to repeat," noted Tanner.
BIG PAPA'S RESULTS
Steph came out of the gates strong in un-seeded qualifying, notching a #10 qualifier with an 85-point run to advance to eliminations. Although he did not advance to tandem rounds, he finished 22nd overall in the event and his position in the series continues to improve.
"It was a smooth weekend overall," stated Steph. "It's always fun to compete on a racecourse, and we got a break when Chris (Forsberg) and Sam (Hubinette) went out early, which helped keep us atop the standings. It was also really good to see Rhys back out and we congratulate him on the win! We head to Englishtown, New Jersey for the next event and I have raced well there in the past, although it was on the drag strip. Hopefully some of that old E-Town magic will appear for me again this year."
Road Atlanta was where the first FormulaD event was held and this is the fifth time the series has competed there...both cars have qualified for eliminations in 2008...the team has three top 5 qualifiers (one seeded 1st & 4th, one unseeded 5th) and a third place finish this season...Tanner is 10 points off the current series leader and both Rockstar/AEM drivers are ranked in the top 30 series competitors...the next event is at the World-famous Englishtown Raceway on June 13-14 and is the first time FD has held an event there...
The Rockstar/AEM drift team is sponsored by Toyo Tires, Motegi Racing Wheels, Tokico Gas Shocks, Advanced Clutch Technology (ACT), Specialty Products Company (SPC), ChargeSpeed and C-West.