Formula Drift Pro2 RD 3: Seattle

Hometown Hero Matt Vankirk Takes the Win” – Formula Drift

Picture Perfect Victory
WE DID IT! The team received our very first win in Formula Drift Pro2 during Round 3 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe Wa! The entire MVK Racing team worked very hard for this moment and there was no better place to do it than our home track in front of all our fans, friends and families! Knowing this we decided to go all out for this event debuting “The Vankirk Experience” where fans are able to drive the MVK Racing Formula Drift S13 onto Evergreen Speedway in a Fanatec Club Sport Racing Simulator paired to a VR Headset. With all the extra attention we knew we needed to look apart so F7LTHY Clothing provided us with shirts that stand out among the crowd. Popeye Energy Drinks brought everything together by providing an expo booth and all natural energy that propelled us onto the podium!

When we showed up to practice / qualifying on Thursday we had a few different changes to the car. We are making quite a bit more power thanks to the Brian Crower 272 cams, valve springs, retainers and a tune by GetADomTune. We upgraded our wheels to Konig’s new HYPERGRAM model which saved us a lot of rotating mass compared to our previous wheels. This was my first time running Achilles Radial 123s tires, we ran Achilles ATR Sport 2 the past two events, so we came into the event expecting to have a lot more power and grip than what we are normally used to.

Our goal for practice on Thursday was to dial in the vehicle and set up our Fortune Auto Dreadnought Pro 2-way suspension and Achilles Radial 123s tire pressure for the new amount of power we are now making. After a few laps we actually left the tire pressure where we started. Matt from Fortune-Auto stopped by to adjusted our rebound a little bit and we felt good heading into qualifying!

As we head into qualifying I tend to get a tad nervous even though I was feeling quite comfortable with the track and car in practice. During our first lap I transitioned a little too soon in the power alley which made me have a slight correction and the judges gave us a score of 75. During my 2nd run all my nerves dissipated and I was ready to put everything on the line to up my previous score. On my 2nd qualifying run I felt like we hit all of our clipping points and did everything the judges wanted to see. We received a score of 85 which put us as the 4th Qualifier.

Top 16
Friday the team showed up ready for the big day! In top 16 we got paired up with Austin Meeks. Unfortunately in practice before the main event Austin had hit the wall and his car was unrepairable. This gave us the opportunity to do a bye run and feel out the track before heading into the great 8.

Great 8
We went up against round 1 winner, Kevin Lawrence! I knew this battle was going to be a tough fight. Kevin was looking solid all weekend and this track really resembles his home track at Orlando Speed World. We ended up leading first. We had a great line on the bank and even tapped the wall half way through it! After transitioning in power alley we finished off the run cleanly and Kevin Lawrence was right on our tail! During my follow Kevin laid down an identical run as us and from the live stream it almost looked like two identical runs! Coming into the final turn Kevin over rotated slightly and we advanced on to the Final 4!

Top 4
The Final 4 battle was the battle our team has been waiting for all year! We were up against Dirk Stratton in the Lingenfelter Corvette who beat us in round 1 by completely out running us! Now that we teamed up with Brian Crower and was able to upgrade our engine we felt confident at getting our rematch! Dirk lead first and remembering how fast his car was in Orlando I took off of the line before him and by the time he caught up we were a little over half way on the straight and he slingshot right past us. We were able to reel him in on the bank and got back on his door by power alley and finished of the course with him. My spotter Justin relayed to me that we had to put it all on the line if we were going to advance and I knew that after our follow run was not what we hopped for. Taking off the line I went as fast as I could and initiated right up on the wall which looked like it threw Dirk off a little as he ebrake entered and brought him up into the wall with the back of his car. We rode the wall all the way around the 5/8ths and with Dirk trying to play catch up coming off of the bank he went 4 tires off and could not catch back up to us. We were awarded the win and advanced on to the final match of the evening.

The grand finally against Dylan Hughes! The team and I were excited to make it to the finals but it wasn’t over yet we put our game faces on and headed into the final match of the night. Dylan was looking solid all day with some of the best tandem runs that weekend so I knew we would have to be right there with him throughout the track. Dylan led first, as we initiated into the bank I was right there with him. This was one of our closest tandems of the night as I left foot brake across the 5/8ths. Coming off the bank we were a little shallow compared to Dylan due to me having to clutch kick and not having that low end torque Dylan has but we stayed with him and finished the run. On my lead run we pulled about 2 car lengths on Dylan but coming off the bank we went two tires off resulting in a OMT.

During our OMT battles as I followed Dylan coming off the bank we went all four tires off which put us in the advantage going into our lead run. We knew all we had to do was lay down a solid lead run with no mistakes and the victory was ours. We initiated up on the 5/8ths wall and as we were coming off I chucked the car and almost had backwards angle coming into power alley which through Hughes off and he ended up hitting us. We stayed in throttle and finished off the course granting us our first ever Formula Drift Podium!

Thank you for letting us share our first win with you!
Matt Vankirk

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