Super Autobacs is fielding a Nissan Skyline in Formula Drift this year. At the first event in Long Beach, it was pointed out to the Chief Steward that the front suspension of the R34 Skyline had been modified. Originally it had a multi link front suspension, and it had been changed, with OEM parts , to a strut type front suspension.
I mistakenly thought at first that Formula D had changed their rules. I made a posting to Drifting.com to see if anyone had heard anything about the issues that the SA Team was having.
After I made the post, I took the time then to sit down and really look at the rules. I found a few sections interesting.
18.104.22.168 Vehicles that do not meet the above eligibility criteria must petition for Approval from Formula Drift.
8.3.1 The basic OEM suspension design must remain. Any changes to design type suspension must be preaproved by Formula Drift.
8.3.3 Modified or aftermarket suspension parts are only allowed if pre-approved by Formula Drift.
Most of what I think about each section is posted on the Drifting.com thread.
Team SA Press Release after the jump.
The Team SA R34 has recently been deemed ineligible for the Formula DRIFT series in it's current state. The team has been accessed several fines, penalties, and faces possible removal from the series if the issues are not remedied..
The main issue stems from the vehicle's current OEM front strut suspension setup. The setup, being OEM, is in compliance with the Japanese version of the rulebook but apparently not with the English version according to the current interpretation. Despite the suspension setup remaining OEM and from the same chassis, Formula D currently has deemed it ineligible. The decision has come as quite a shock to many in the series as a decision to allow the Scion tC to compete in the series seemingly put to rest the same issue at the start of the season. The decision effectively made the chassis, not the model, the deciding factor in vehicle eligibility. (a decision we are very much in agreement with) Unfortunately, for Team SA, consistency with this ruling is not being seen, leaving many to wonder how level the playing field is when what applies to one vehicle, does not apply to another.
The other question that has been left unanswered at this point is why, if the model of the car is now the deciding factor instead of the chassis, the current OEM suspension setup on the R34 has not been allowed. Considering that it is using OEM parts and does not give the vehicle an unfair advantage, the question remains. We must also note that several other vehicles in the series have more drastic changes in suspension design. Are these suspension changes unapproved and deemed ineligible now as well? At this point, we cannot comment on the situation as we have more unanswered questions than answers.
Formula DRIFT has yet to respond to requests for a description of the appeal process to this decision, or a detailed list of previously given rule exemptions. We fear that neither exist, and the series is unprepared for this type of action. The lack of both puts several vehicles in the series in question. Formula DRIFT Chief Steward has already stated that "we have several other actions pending with other competitors," leaving us to wonder if they will be subject to the same fines and penalties.
Despite the rulebook's lack of a appeal process, or a list of previously allowed exemptions for specific vehicles, and TIME, Team SA is continuing to explore options to have this decision overturned, seeking a sense of consistency, balance and fairness to be restored to the series.