Geoff Donati Looks Toward Round 2 After Early Exit in Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Chuck Murray | @shutterslayer

After tricky weather made most of practice a waste, a tough draw in the top 32 and a super competitive battle that saw him lose to the eventual event winner Tommy Lemaire, Geoff Donati is pleased overall with his and his team’s performance at Formula Drift Prospec round 1 in Atlanta.

“The car felt great in practice, but I didn’t get any dry practice laps Thursday. I got three laps on Friday in the dry; two leads and one chase,” Donati said. Because of his final standing last season, he avoided having to qualify in the patchy conditions early Friday.

Coming into the top 32 as the 3 seed, Donati said there were only a couple of drivers that he was a little concerned about coming up against. As luck would have it, Tommy Lemaire was one of those two. 

Photo courtesy of Chuck Murray | @shutterslayer

“Even though we went out early in 32, I’m actually taking away a confidence boost. In my eyes whoever won that battle was winning the event,” Donati said. Lemaire was the 2021 Prospec Rookie of the Year and had a super solid 2022 season. He made his return to competition this season after taking 2023 off. 

Their battle saw Donati start off in the lead position. He put down a pretty solid run, but was shallow coming into outer zone 2. Lemaire had a solid chase run, but was lacking proximity. In their second run, Donati pushed hard in the chase and had much better proximity, but Lemaire did a great job filling the zones and did enough to garner the unanimous decision from the judges. It was easily one of the most exciting, most competitive matchups in the top 32.

“FD is a game of inches, and it really showed… Typically in FD you win with your lead run. They don’t fault the chase driver that much for their inconsistencies,” Donati said.

He and his team were both pleased with his performance, despite the early exit from the competition. They looked to improve their efficiency and decrease their workload in the pits, both of which they achieved. The car didn’t have any major issues, and they drove it back onto the trailer at the end of the day.

Looking toward Round 2 up in Englishtown, NJ, Donati and the team are still feeling confident. His goal for the season has been to show that he’s more than just a consistent, conservative driver and that he’s comfortable being aggressive in the chase. Since E-town is a simpler track, Donati said he expects that the driving will level up across the board, and that a simpler track is going to let him be that much more aggressive. 

Photo courtesy of Chuck Murray | @shutterslayer

“We’re gonna have our work cut out for us. We have to qualify now since we got knocked out in 32, but the same philosophy applies. Just put down a heater and if you lose, you lose,” he said.

All in all, Donati is in a better spot than he was at this point last season. He had a rough crash in Atlanta in 2023 at the end of his top 32 battle, and even without that to contend with, he and the team were still ironing out issues with the car. He’ll be going into round 2 next month with a well-sorted car, an experienced team that’s meshing well and the confidence that he can go head-to-head with anybody in the field and come out on top. 

Donati and his team will travel to E-town to throw down with the rest of the field June 20 to 22.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Murray | @shutterslayer