Entering the 2019 season of Formula Drift Pro2 with a chassis tested only a handful of times really pushed Andrew Schulte to an unexpected place. Frustrations ran high when the rain came down and made a familiar track almost unpredictable.
Schulte, who is sponsored on the drift circuit this year by ClassicCars.com, had competed before at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, in Gridlife 2018, so he expected to finally feel more in his element.
“Right from the start of practice we starting to deal with a lot of steering bind issues that were really hampering our ability to enter into Turn One,” he said.
Schulte noticed that after lowering the front of the car for the previous round, in Orlando, Florida, when counter steering full lock to the right at Atlanta, the front tires were making contact with brackets in the wheel well, effectively inducing front-wheel braking that caused the car to lose momentum, or to over rotate, forcing him to re-initiate into the next turn and ending his run in an incomplete. Read more on qualifying: In-depth look at how Formula Drift qualifying works.
In addition to the mechanical challenges, heavy rain came down between his qualifying runs, meaning one qualifying run was on a dry track and the next on a wet one.
One of the lessons taken home from the track was the need to listen to the car and then to communicate to the team what is needed. There is a spotter who watches the car on the track, but it’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure the crew knows how the car is responding so adjustments can be made.
That sort of relationship only develops with more seat time than Schulte had available in the early-season events.
With all of that in mind, Schulte is looking ahead to the Gridlife event in Michigan May 30-June 2 and some solid seat time to prepare him for Round 3, scheduled for August 9-10 in St. Louis. “I’m looking forward to learning how to communicate with this car and listening to what it’s telling me and communicating with it better,” he said.