We had such a great time chatting with Walker Wilkerson at FD Long Beach (Read about it HERE), we decided we’d follow him around for the season and get his personal take on each round of the championship; right through the final round at Irwindale. Our hope is that it’ll give you a peak behind the curtain and demonstrate the highs and lows that come with travelling the country in pursuit of more speed, more slip, and more smoke.
ML@S: Tell us what changes you made, if any, to get ready for Atlanta, and rebound from the shaky start in Long Beach.
WW: For Atlanta we actually made quite a few changes from Long Beach. The biggest change was adding ballast weight so we could run a bigger tire and balancing the chassis’ weight distribution. After getting the car on scales we realized the front was too heavy and the rear was too light. We corner balanced the car making sure it was setup accordingly and added the correct amount of ballast weight, so I could run a 255/40/18 Falken RT615K tire. After everything was balanced I was able to do some testing and was very happy. I no longer felt like my car wanted to understeer or that I had to fight it to hold angle.
ML@S: The layout in Atlanta changed this year. Talk about the new twist and how do you like the change?
WW: At first I didn’t really like it because it was tricky trying to find the correct line coming up the hill and entering into the horseshoe. Although towards the end of the weekend I really started liking it a lot. On Saturday everything just clicked for me and I was able to find the correct line to take consistently.
ML@S: Did you come into Atlanta with the idea that you needed to be more aggressive in Qualifying, and where did you end up on the ladder?
WW: Actually I came into qualifying with the idea that I needed to be more consistent and aggressive at the same time. I didn’t want to be overly aggressive since the likelihood of messing up is much greater. I qualified 21st which I wasn’t personally satisfied with because I would’ve liked to have done a better run. However, I was happy with the score I received for the run.
ML@S: Tell us a little bit about what happened while working your way through the bracket.
WW: Working through the bracket was eventful for sure. In top 16 going up against Tony Angelo, he hit me on accident just as we initiated and it spun me out. The impact broke my wheel, bent my lower control arm and bent my traction rod, which caused my car to have a massive amount of toe in on the driver’s side. We didn’t have enough time to replace the parts before my battle with Joon Maeng in top 8. So we just adjusted my toe arm in as far as it could go and my bent traction rod out as far as it could go, trying to get the toe of the wheel a little closer to zero. Even with the links adjusted, the driver side still had a ton of toe in. I had to mentally prepare myself for the way the car would handle before my battle with Joon. It made transferring my car to the right really hard, and it made transferring to the left really easy. I had to be very precise with my throttle modulation because not enough throttle one way, would make the car barely transfer and too much throttle the other way would spin me out.
ML@S: What do you think cost you the round against Saito?
WW: In my battle with Daigo, I think the reason why the judges gave it to him was because on my chase run he was able to pull a large gap on me and the only way for me to catch him, was to sacrifice a lot of angle and take a shallower line. Then on my lead run, he was right on my door all the way up until the horseshoe with a lot of smoke, which made his chase really dynamic and exciting. Although given either outcome, I was super excited to have placed 4th and given a one more time battle with a D1 Grand Prix Champion, and a driver who I’ve looked up to for a long time. Next time I know that I just need to push even harder!
ML@S: The fourth place finish at Atlanta is your highest yet in FD, isn’t it? Tell us about getting your personal best, and what do you think you need to work on to get on the podium.
WW: To get on the podium, we need to dial in the suspension some more and fix some reliability issues with the car. As a driver I feel like I need to focus on consistency. As you could tell, a lot of the top dogs were pulling on me going up the hill. We played with my suspension settings and springs rates more to get even more grip before Florida. Also we made the changes to my car that will hopefully eliminate any arising issues.
ML@S: Tell us what you’re doing to get ready for Palm Beach this weekend. Your program is paired with Global Time Attack. Any interest in doing a little Grip driving?
WW: I’ve spent the last couple weeks working on my car a whole lot, which is really stressful. So this weekend, all I really wanted to do was just have a chill and relaxing weekend and spend time with my girlfriend, Vanessa. I think it’s really cool that GTA has paired with Formula D for Atlanta as well as Florida. Although I’ve only ever drifted, I am always open to, and would love to do/try other types of motor sports.
ML@S: Good luck and we’re looking forward to catching up with you after round three!
Here is the gallery from Long Beach: