We’re a wee bit late with the Formula DRIFT 2018 driver lineup for Achilles Tires USA, but the news initially came out just a handful of days before our Nexen Tire roster reveal (so we’re not THAT late). The squad includes one series champion, a couple international entries, and the return of one of FD’s most popular roots drivers.
The eight-man team consists of 2013 series drivers champion Michael Essa, pilot of the Essa Autosport BMW E46 the last couple of seasons; Matt Coffman, wheelman of the Coffman Racing S13, Taylor Hull, who is expected to campaign a Cadillac ATS in 2018, and freshman driver of the Stratton Racing Chevy C6 Corvette, Dirk Stratton, join Essa in the lineup, along with Las Vegas hot shoe Forrest Wang, who is renowned for his driving style and returning to FD after a year off. Latvian Kristaps Bluss, possibly in his carbon-Kevlar bodied so-called “Eurofighter” BMW E92, Irishman Dean Kearney, pilot of the Oracle Lighting Dodge Viper, and an as yet unnamed driver for Jerry Yang Racing – the team Robbie Nishida raced for last year – round out the roster.
While it wasn’t mentioned in Achilles’ press release, we wouldn’t be surprised if all eight were back on its 123S summer tires for competition, which is what team members ran last season. Achilles will also be the semi-exclusive tire for the Formula DRIFT Pro 2 Series; at the 2017 SEMA Show, Formula D revealed it entered into an exclusive relationship with Achilles Radial and Nexen, who will serve as the Official Tire Suppliers of the Pro 2 Championship, a move said to contain team costs and increase competition parity.
This will be the seventh season Achilles has been involved with the Formula D championship. It’s challenged for the series’ Tire Cup since it began in 2013, but has so far only been able to finish as high as second in the yearly standings (that was in 2015). We’re hoping this year’s race to the tire title will be a doozy. The 2018 Formula DRIFT Pro Championship gets off the ground April 6th and 7th on Turns 9, 10, and 11 of the Long Beach Grand Prix street circuit in Southern California.