Three seasons, three championships, 10 event wins.
It feels fitting that just as how we announced the arrival of the new Worthouse Drift Team in Formula Drift back in 2016, that today we break the news that the team will not compete in Formula Drift this season, and never again as we know it.
It has always been a massive challenge for Worthouse to compete in the United States. As the European team in the series, even just showing up for each event involved considerably more logistics, cost and effort than Worthouse’s US-based rivals. The fact that they not only showed up for three seasons, but dominated as well is testament to their commitment.
With such an uncertain future ahead courtesy of COVID-19, the team’s decision to step back is an understandable one.
That noise you hear, however, is probably a collective sigh of relief from the FD paddock.
Since their arrival in 2017, the Worthouse team has won a staggering 41.6% of all events, breaking and setting all sorts of records along the way, while also playing a significant role in Falken Tire securing FD’s Tire Cup for three seasons in a row.
While it was James Deane who managed the ‘three-peat’ for the first time in FD history, it’s arguable that the previously relative unknown of Piotr Więcek has left just as an impressive stamp on the series. From winning Rookie of the Year in 2017, to victories at Irwindale, Texas and Monroe.
Their success came as a surprise to a lot of Formula Drift media and supporters, who initially dismissed them as just another pair of imported European drivers. Even after Deane’s win at the team’s first event in Long Beach 2017, one outlet claimed that Deane had an advantage because his car was right-hand drive, and that the real test would come on the banked ovals later in the season.
Even after that first championship win, there was talk downplaying the Worthouse team’s success, that they had simply just caught the other teams off-guard and it wouldn’t happen again in 2018. Spoiler alert: It did. And again in 2019.
For all the combative talk from others, it never seemed to phase either Deane or Więcek, as they never bothered themselves with the mind games that others were trying to play. Instead, there were two very happy drivers having the time of their lives.
For the rest of us, we believed they were going to be competitive from the get-go, but perhaps not to the extent that they were. The positive impact that they had on the championship cannot be understated. A series that was regularly falling foul of cynical driving tactics, was rejuvenated by Deane and Więcek’s fast, no bullsh*t, aggressive driving. As a competitor, your option was either to keep up, or go home.
So, what happens next?
Neither Deane or Więcek will compete the 2020 season in Formula Drift, but whether they choose to return as individual drivers in future still remains to be seen.
While their friendship remains as strong as ever, both drivers have different goals and ambitions going forward, so it feels like an appropriate time for them to chase these as individuals.
Neither Deane or Więcek have much left to prove in the United States, so I wonder will they focus their efforts on the ever-improving Drift Masters European Championship?
I wouldn’t rule out either driver returning to Formula Drift in the future, but we won’t ever see the Worthouse twins line up alongside each other again in FD.
Additional Photography by Jordan Butters