North America’s premiere professional drift series, Formula Drift, has returned for 2012, and we at Scion Racing couldn’t be more excited. Tony Angelo, who is driving Ken Gushi’s old 2010 tC, joins Ken Gushi in his 2013 GReddy Racing/Scion Racing FR-S and Fredric Aasbo, who is running a new intake system and larger turbo in his 2011 tC. Tony’s addition makes this the first season Scion Racing has fielded 3 teams. Last week, Scion held a private practice session at Irwindale, giving the teams the opportunity to test out their new vehicle builds and perform any necessary fine tuning and adjustments for Round 1. We spoke with each driver during the practice sessions, with cameras rolling, to hear a little more about their thoughts on the upcoming season. The footage can be viewed in our Formula Drift 2012 season preview summary. The Formula Drift debut competition took place Friday and Saturday (April 6-7) at the Streets of Long Beach road course.
Friday was dedicated to practice and qualifying rounds, which determine the final 32 teams to compete. All three of our Scion Racing drivers qualified, with Fredric Aasbo in 11th, Ken Gushi in 14th, and Tony Angelo in 21st position.
Saturday was the main event, and it was a perfect day for it. The sunny, 80 degree oceanside weather was the perfect environment for the sold out crowd to enjoy a day of drifting. The Scion Racing U.U.V. (Urban Utility Vehicle) was on hand to give out some free Scion Racing swag, and for those who wanted to put down the coin, the latest Scion Racing clothing from DTA Posse was available for purchase. In addition, fans were able to race the 2013 FR-S in Gran Turimso 5. The two fans with the fastest time of the day went home with their own copy of GT5! Scion had a handful of vehicles on display, including Cartel’s Pit Boss iQ, and the brand new Cartel FR-S Speedster concept, which made its first public appearance at the event.
The event also marked the grand finale to the Scion First 86 Program, our promotion that offered a chance for FR-S enthusiasts to be among the first 86 to purchase the Scion FR-S. The lucky 86 program participants enjoyed the shady, elevated view of the competition from the Scion VIP Suite located inside turn 10.
And now for the race results!
Round of 32
In his first Formula Drift competition in 3 years, Tony Angelo went up against Chris Forsberg in his freshly built Nissan 370z. Angelo looked comfortable in his new ride, consistently coming within inches of the clipping points. It wasn’t enough to beat Forsberg’s performance, and he was eliminated from the competition.
Fredric Aasbo, Rookie of the Year in 2010, was matched with 2012 rookie Chelsea Denofa. Many drift fans have been curious to see if a rookie will come along one day and give Aasbo the same treatment he dealt in 2010 when he earned the nickname “Champkiller”. This was not that day, and he delivered two strong runs to advance to the Round of 16.
Ken Gushi had a lot of anticipation built up around him, given this was the global competition debut for the Scion FR-S. The crowd roared as he drifted by in the GReddy Racing/Scion Racing FR-S, and he gave fans reason to be excited as he beat Jeremy Lowe and his FC3S RX7 to advance to the Round of 16 in commanding fashion.
Round of 16
Aasbo faced 2011′s champion Dai Yoshihara in the Round of 16. Undaunted, Aasbo put up a fight that only a champion could’ve survived. Unfortunately for Scion Racing and the Need For Speed team, Yoshihara proved his champion-level abilities by fending off Aasbo’s onslaught and edging out a win, knocking Fredric out of the competition.
Ken went head to head with Odi Bakchis, ranked 30th, who was coming with some major momentum in his Nissan S14 after beating the highly favored Vaughn Gitten Jr., ranked 3, in the first round. Lightning did not strike twice for Bakchis, and Ken maintained a strong performance to push through to the next round.
Round of 8
Yoshihara and Gushi found themselves face-to-face for the first time since Ken defeated Dai in the final race of 2011 at Irwindale. Ken’s FR-S was the lighter fighter being powered by the turbocharged boxer 4 versus Dai’s big LS V8. Ken knew he would have to be aggressive and on the first run, he went wide and contacted the wall on the outside of turn 10, damaging the rear quarter, wing and trunk. The GReddy Racing FR-S went into the pit under the 5 minute rule and were able to get back to the starting line in time for the lead run. Ken put up a strong second run, but it was not enough to regain what he had lost in the first run, and Yoshihara went on to the next round, and eventually 2nd place overall.
Aasbo’s Need for Speed team is still anxious to see what their more powerful tC is capable of. Round 2 in Atlanta, GA looks like the perfect opportunity since Atlanta is home to one of Formula Drift’s fastest tracks. Tony Angelo is getting back into racing form and using his experience as a Formula Drift judge to drive smart and focused. We expect big things in future events. Ken Gushi’s 2013 FR-S suffered minor damage in the Long Beach impact. The GReddy Racing team is already busy making aerodynamic, steering, and power adjustments in preparation for Formula Drift Round 2 – Road Atlanta, taking place May 11-12.
Keep your eye on us here, on Twitter and on Facebook for coverage of future Formula Drift events. And be sure to watch for the fourth season of Scion Racing’s drift webisodes series, Driven to Drift, following Ken, Fredric, and Tony behind the scenes…returning soon!