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Jordan Temkins Wins Drone Racing League Title ... Again

Drone racing has a new legend

July 29, 2017

Drone racer Jordan “Jet” Temkin won his second consecutive Drone Racing League title in the 2017 Allianz Circuit Season Finale, which aired tonight on ESPN. The race, which was held in the Alexandria Palace in London, featured the top eight drone pilots from the season and was decided on the last lap of the least race in the event.

Temkin, who failed to earn a top spot in the first two races of the season, won last year’s inaugural event. And get this: His only first-place win last season was the final race.  “I guess I peaked at the right moment,” he says.

This season, DRL introduced a point system similar to NASCAR, in which pilots earn points for how well they finish in each race. All 16 pilots compete in three of the four regular season races,  and the total points earned determine the final 12 pilots who advance to the final two rounds. The top six racers then competed in London for the title of DRL World Champion.

Swiss-born Gabriel Kocher, known by the racing name “Gab707”, won the opening event and led in points for most of the season. Temkin says that the early frustrations led him to do something he normally doesn’t do during the season.

“I got bummed and actually started practicing — a lot,” he says. “Normally we don’t practice a lot during the season. We have a philosophy that if you’re in tune with your drone, racing is easy because you feel it.”

That practice paid off: Temkin won the Level 3 event in New Orleans, Louisiana, a Mardis Gras-themed racecourse. He says all that practice helped build his confidence so he could push his drones’  capabilities. “At the start of the season, I told myself to go slow, don’t crash and you’ll be OK,” he says. “I had to get comfortable at high speeds again. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
DRL Season 2 Champion Jordan Temkin holds his first-place trophy: a giant drone prop. DRL
DRL 2 Season Winners
Poppin' (or at least holding) champagne! The winners: First, Jordan "Jet" Tempkin, Second, Gabriel "Gab707" Kocher, Third, Nick "Wild Willy" Willard.
Not just luck.

Temkin went into the Season 2 final race in a virtual tie with Kocher, and knew that whoever won the last heat would likely win the crown. The last obstacle on the course included three rings on the ceiling, and Temkin felt he could make that maneuver faster than the other racers.

“[Kocher] was in the lead the entire time,” says Temkin. “But when you are flying, you can only see what’s ahead of you, like a horse with blinders on. I felt like I had information advantage, staying behind him and waiting to make a move. I’m just glad it worked out.”

Nick Horbaczewski, the founder and CEO of DRL, says DRL’s  format favors good fliers. “We race multiple heats, which levels playing field,” he says. “We saw a lot of talented people totally crack under the pressure. But Jordan is perfectly consistent, and proved over and over that under pressure he is the best racer.”

Temkin’s victory is a good sign for the nascent sport of drone racing. Many sports, like mixed martial arts, struggle to market their athletes because as soon as a marketable champion is crowned, that person is often dethroned. By winning back-to-back titles in the sport’s most high-profile event, Temkin is now the most marketable figure in drone racing.

But for Temkin, the victory is an unexpected yet thrilling new adventure. “Everything has just steamrolled,” he says. “I did this TV series, I won a few races, and now I get paid to fly drones every day.”
Featured image: DRL