“Weird” is the only word we can come up with to describe the first leg of how kind it’s been to Scion Racing over the years. With Round 2 now in the books, however, we’re thinking we may have to reconsider after having unusual weather conditions, a blown motor, and some awkward tandem runs thrown our way.
You can never be too surprised about anything when you’re competing in a series as unpredictable as Formula Drift, but the practice sessions leading into the event didn’t give us any reason for concern. The Papadakis Racing, GReddy Racing, and TAngelo Racing teams looked like they had their cars locked in, as Fredric Aasbo, Ken Gushi, and Tony were ripping it around the course.
Fredric and the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC were first at bat for Friday’s qualifying session and posted the day’s top score with relative ease. The run earned him a well-deserved spot at the top of the bracket for the Round of 32 which we were thrilled to see, but it also made what happened next catch us with our guard down
Ken’s number was called soon after, but he was unable to make it to the line due to an engine issue that arose after the morning practice. Despite all the work that was put into the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S going into the event, the nature of motorsports means that unforeseeable these kinds of issues have a way of turning up at inopportune moments. The GReddy Racing team worked diligently to make the necessary fixes to their FR-S, but were unable to complete the repairs in time for Ken to make his qualifying runs.
Tony fared slightly better when it came his turn to qualify, successfully taking the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S out for both of his runs. Since departing Long Beach after Round 1, the TAngelo Racing team had been busy making changes to the car to better suit Tony’s aggressive driving style. While he pushed only just too hard in Atlanta, taking two wheels off course, the team nearly has the car all the way to where they want it to be.
Ken and Tony are tasked with representing the best of Scion Racing, and it’s something they’ve done spectacularly well over the years – to the point that it’s almost too easy to take what they do for granted. It’s no secret that we have a vested interest in seeing both of them do well, but even outside of their affiliation with Scion Racing, it was strange watching a main event without two of the series’ top drivers. Both Ken and Tony are among the most driven and competitive people we’ve ever come across, so we’re sure they’ll bounce back stronger than ever when we head out to Palm Beach for Round 3.
Saturday’s competition got off to an early start, with Fredric scheduled to start things off against Walker Wilkerson. Walker’s car unfortunately appeared to be suffering from some major issues that didn’t allow him to get on the starting grid, which gave Fredric a bye into the Top 16. There, he was matched up against his old friend and fellow Norwegian countryman, Kenny Moen.
It was at this point that things really started getting bizarre. Rain began falling as the Top 16 battles started, making for an unexpectedly slick track with extremely low entry speeds. Conditions deteriorated to the point that, during Kenny Moen’s lead run, he was literally sliding all over the track as he tried to initiate in front of Fredric’s Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC. As a result, Fredric moved on to the Top 8, where the bracket had him paired up with Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Fredric seems to be making a habit of turning out memorable battles as of late. At Round 1 in Long Beach, he knocked out 2012 Champion Daigo Saito in what many are calling one of the greatest tandems in FD history. His matchup with Gittin at Formula Drift this past weekend turned out to be similarly memorable, albeit for a far different reason.
You’ve by now noticed that the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC is running a 2014 Scion tC front end, giving the car a more aggressive look that we think is an improvement on the old setup. Gittin seemed to agree, to the point that in the process of trying to chase Fredric, he ended up climbing the driver’s side fender, ripping off the bumper on the way down to claim it for his own.
The contact was not only a first for us, but also the weirdest we’ve ever seen happen to anyone in Formula Drift competition. In the process of literally running over the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC, Gittin moved up to the lead position, and Fredric began giving chase without missing so much as a beat.
Gittin was ruled at fault for the contact, which gave the Papadakis Racing team as much time as they needed to get the car in working order. However, the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC lost 3rd gear during the course of the run, putting them at a major disadvantage. The issues that resulted caused the Fredric to straighten out twice on Fredric’s chase run, leading to a OMT battle.
Though Fredric gamely went right back at Vaughn for their follow-up battle, the problems were just too much to handle, and the judges gave Gittin the win. For his part, Fredric was exceedingly gracious about the turn of events, refusing to cast blame elsewhere and even joking about the entire ordeal afterwards. If you missed the battle, you can catch it in the YouTube clip above.
That all said, Fredric still earned a second straight Top 8 finish, which allowed him to move up to 6th place in the 2013 Formula Drift Pro Championship standings. His work on the track also moved Scion up to 2nd place in the new FD Manufacturer’s Cup, and within 27 points of 1st place. With Ken and Tony ready to bounce back for Round 3 in Palm Beach, we’ll be looking to narrow that gap even further.
We’ll be bringing you all of our video highlights from the weekend in our Road Atlanta episode of Driven 2 Drift 2013, so be sure to stay tuned!