10 Questions with Stephan Verdier and his Formula Drift Season and Rally!

Posted: October 14, 2010 by Yukes in Announcements, Dave Mirra, Drifting, Drivers, Events, Ken Block, Racing, Rally, Stephan Verdier, STi Impreza, Subaru Rally Team USA, Travis Pastrana, X Games Super Rally
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Well, the Formula Drift season has now finished and our favorite Subie Driver in the Formula Drift field has called it a season. We contacted our friend, Stephan Verdier driver of the Crawford Performance STi. We got a chance to talk to him about his season in Formula Drift, Rally Cross, XGames Rally, and the future.


 

Q: Stephan, thanks for joining back with us at Subie-Life.com! The Formula Drift season just ended for you and it’s been quite a busy one for you. What were the highlights of the season for you?

A: Thank you for having me back. To answer your question, unfortunately I don’t have any highlights in drifting this season. I had my worst season in 5 years. I made a lot of driving errors and mechanical failures. I’m kind of glad that the season is over so I can regroup and get ready for next season.

Q: Your car debuted at Long Beach Round 1 as an Iron Man 2 car, then made a few changes to a multi-color rally car, then back to a drift car. What was that experience like, having to change your Subaru so many times this season?

A: Yes, I was fortunate to get a sponsorship with Royal Purple for the movie Iron Man 2. It only was a deal for the first 2 races (in Formula Drift). Then I got invited to compete at the X-games in the Rallycross event. Since my deal with Iron Man2 was finished I decided to redo the scheme on my car, and keep it for the rest of the FD season. It was really fun to transform the car back and forth between drifting and rally. It’s much easier than people think, I only changed the suspension, transmission, turbo and brakes. The rest of the car was the same as drifting. Here’s a breakdown on what I did:
  • The suspension we went from Stance to Tein because Tein has been in rally for a long time and has a fantastic rally gravel suspension, then went back to the Stance for drifting
  • Gear box, Crawford performance landed me a  AWD Kaps sequential gearbox for the x-games. Sequential is a must in rally cross. I normally use a stock Sti box in drifting
  • Turbo, Garrett gave me a twin scroll that with the help of Crawford we install to replace the Garrett GT30 that use in drifting.
  • Brake, because we use 15 inch tire for gravel, I need smaller brake than the stock STI to fit the wheel, I used with the help of Subaru of Ontario stock wrx brakes.
  • To finish Crawford did a remap of the stock Ecu for the new turbo and GTI made some bumper and skid plates.

Q: I think everyone (including myself) was cheering for you to win at XGames in the Super Rally. What was that experience like for you to compete against factory supported vehicles? How did it feel to be door to door in a Rally Cross setting?
A: X-Games was my highlight of the season. It was unbelievable!!!. It was a surprise that we were that competitive. I knew driving wise I was as fast as the factory driver. Where I was the most worried, was about my car. Like I said that car was made for drifting and I had no experience in Rallycross. All the Euro-rally cross cars  made around 650hp on a 2L engine with a 45mm restrictor. I was using a 2.5L engine with a 45mm restrictor and was hopping to be around 500hp. I was confident with Crawford being involve since they’ve been making massive power on there 2.7L with the Time attack car however they never played with a restrictor, so I was a bit nervous. Crawford was able to make over 500 hp and be reliable.I was still under power over the other rallycross cars but because of the 10 inches tire rule, I knew that the Ford or Factory Suby wouldn’t be able to use their full power on gravel.
Everybody had anti-lag and launch control but I didn’t since I was still on my stock ecu. I knew the event was going to be tough.
It was a huge surprise when we qualified 2nd overall. The only guy that beat me was Travis (Pastrana) which has a purposely build Subaru XGames car.
Racing door to door in a stadium with cars screaming was amazing, I’m hooked on rallycross.
Q: What was the highlight for XGames for you?
A: The whole XGames was the highlight! Qualifying 2nd, winning my heat against (Ken) Block and (Dave) Mirra, bouncing off (Brian) Deagan on my first lap, and Catching Tanner (Foust) in our heat! Everything.
Q: As one of the few privateers in Formula Drift, how hard (or easy) is it for you to have to try and conserve funds for each event?
A: It’s really hard to compete in FD (Formula Drift) as a privateer, if you want to be competitive. Fortunately with the sponsorship of Subaru and Royal Purple I was able to do it, but it still cost me a lot of money. That’s the problem with FD now, it’s too expensive to have a competitive car and impossible to do it as a privateer. You might be able to get 1 decent result in the season but won’t be able to be competitive at every event. Cars now are really light and really powerful. The top cars are around 2500 pounds with 650 hp. Only a couple years back you just needed 400hp with a 2700 pounds car to win.
Q: In Vegas you experienced a pretty intense crash but we saw your car again recently at Sonoma and then Irwindale and it looks fine! How were you able to pull that off?
A: Las Vegas was an expensive weekend. I made a big mistake and destroyed the rear end of my car. I was able to buy a rear clip for $500 and take it to my body shops M.O.B.S in Anaheim, CA. They cut my car in half and welded the rear clip on. The car was fixed a week after the crash. 

Q: What new things did you learn from this Season of Formula Drift?

A: That I need a v8 and a light car. The level of driving is way higher than in 2009, same for the cars. I can’t do it as a privateer again. I will need to be part of a team to make it.
Q: Everyone wants to know, will you keep your current STi or go with the new Sedan?
A: In drifting I really doubt that I’ll be in a Subaru for next season. It’s not really the right type of racing for Subaru, as their “thing” is AWD. So, I don’t think I’ll be able to get any support from them (for next season). Also the Subaru platform is not ideal for drifting. You need a real RWD car to be competitive or spend a fortune to make the Suby work. I was able to get away with mine because the other cars were not as developed as they are now. But if Subaru want me to, I would love to do a new STI. I tried last year but couldn’t get the funding for it.
Q: Formula Drift for 2011? What about the new Rally Car series which is rumored to come around the West Coast next year?
A: 2011 Formula Drift, as right now, I don’t have any plan for it. I really want to be in it for 2011 but need to find a team. I can’t afford to do it as a privateer again. Rallycross, I want to be part of it too. My first plan is to drive for a team, I’m talking to 3 teams right now, hopefully I can make it happen. At worst I can use my car for selected West Coast Events. I think by SEMA will know the exact schedule and tv package. 

Q: Who would like to thank that helped you out?
A: There is lot of people that helped me this season: Subaru, Cooper Tires, Crawford Performance, Royal Purple, GTI, Stance, Tein, Garrett, RMR, Enkei, Ignite Fuel, Seibon, APR, I-Speed, and Subaru of Ontario.

Thank you Stephan for your time. Hopefully we can do a feature on your Subie!

 


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Comments
  1. Awesome interview. Stephan really shined at X Games. It was so great to see a privateer running an old platform against the factory guys in purpose built brand new cars and watch them fall one by one to Stephan. The crowd was going wild and had a great time watching him race! I hope he is in a Subaru next year for any event. I think he’s a great asset for Subaru. Keep rocking Stephan.

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