With the inaugural Formula DRIFT event at the Streets of Long Beach course in the books, Team GT Radial packed up the gear, took the show on the road and headed to the second round at Road Atlanta in Braselton, GA. Upon arrival, the team was greeted with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality – in the form of high humidity and steamy temperatures. Weather conditions were both unfamiliar and unpredictable for the Southern California-based cast and crew.
Two weeks removed from a spectacular collision with the wall at turn 10 of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Street Course, Veteran Kyle Mohan arrived at Road Atlanta with a completely rebuilt GT Radial/Energy-X/Mazdatrix Mazda RX-8. Entering round two, rookie Tyler Wolfson and crew had also resolved the mechanical issues that hindered the ability for their GT Radial/SAE Motorsport Mazda RX-7 to qualify inside of the top 32 during round one.
Kyle and Tyler rolled their cars off the trailer on Thursday with renewed confidence and a positive outlook for the weekend. After the first round of practice, Mohan noted that his car was faster and easier to navigate the tricky Road Atlanta course than previous seasons – thanks to combination of additional power from the Mazdatrix built 20B three-rotor engine and improved grip from his GT-Radial Champiro SX2 tires.
Wolfson’s Thursday practice session started off well, but the team encountered an unexpected problem with the actuating rod in the e-brake. Fortunately, Wolfson had previously raced at Road Atlanta in other series, so the shortened practice session was not a major setback for him.
As the Friday qualifying sessions approached, precipitation loomed on the horizon. In preparation for a good ole Southern deluge, the crews rushed to adjust their vehicle set ups for wet conditions. True to form for late spring in the Deep South, weather patterns were erratic. It is not unusual for large patches of violent storm clouds to move rapidly through the region, leaving buckets of rain in their wake. All the while, with each break in the clouds, the blazing-hot sun peeks through and quickly evaporates moisture from the surface.
Kyle Mohan successfully navigated the rainy qualifying session, finishing 15th – just inside the top half of the top 32 qualifiers. Kyle was slated to face Ireland’s, Darren McNamara in the next round. Unfortunately, track conditions changed drastically by the time Tyler Wolfson took his qualifying runs and he was caught out with the wrong setup.
Wolfson reflected on the events of round two by noting that, “It began raining again so we kept our car on the soft rain set up, unfortunately for our second run the track conditions had changed and we made changes in the wrong direction. The car hooked up too soon and I tried to force the car to extend the initiation but unfortunately was unsuccessful. Our weekend was over and we were devastated, the only thing to do now is get ready for Homestead.”
Tyler also added that, “Leading up the (Miami) event we won’t be making any significant changes to the car. I was happy with it for the first time this season in Atlanta and I want to start where we left off. I believe we now have a car that is ready to be pushed and we are prepared for our first good result this season.”
As would any fierce competitor, Tyler Wolfson left Atlanta unsatisfied with his result, but the first year Formula DRIFT driver is making steady progress and is poised to leave his mark during round three in Miami; not only will he have his chance to shine in the Formula DRIFT Pro Series, but Wolfson’s GT Radial/SAE Motorsport Mazda RX-7 will also be competing in this year’s opening round of the Formula DRIFT Pro2 Series.
Veteran, Kyle Mohan executed another crowd-pleasing performance at Road Atlanta, but was also disappointed with his result. At this level of competition, drivers push their vehicles to the ragged edge, leaving no room for error. The slightest hesitation by the lead driver directly impacts his competitor as they race bumper-to-bumper.
“I’m pretty disappointed in how this round went for us,” said Mohan. “I felt we had a car that could have easily gone much further than the top-32, but between Darren slowing down more than I expected and dropping the wheel, the judges decided we shouldn’t move on. Darren and I spoke afterwards, and he said that his car stumbled a bit when he tried to go back to power, and I had to slow down a lot so I wouldn’t run over him. It’s unfortunate that it happened, but things like this happen sometimes. We’ll just shake it off and go for it in Miami.”
In total, the teams left Road Atlanta falling short of their high expectations, but Kyle and Tyler are both seasoned competitors and anything short of winning won’t satisfy their hunger. On the bright side, the fans and the media are beginning to take notice of this dynamic duo: the relentless, seasoned veteran and the tenacious, gifted rookie. Evidenced by the enthusiastic crowds surrounding the GT Radial booth in the pits, an up-tick in congratulations on social media and recognition form traditional media.
Follow Tyler and Kyle on Facebook to track their progress and hear what their growing fan base has to say. Also, be sure to check out the latest issue of Wrecked Magazine, which features Tyler’s GT Radial/SAE Motorsport Mazda RX-7 on the front cover and a spread advertisement of Team GT Radial on the inside cover. Show your support and help cheer our guys on to a superb result during round three of the Formula DRIFT Series in Miami, FL.