It’s easy to take the Formula Drift season for granted. When you’re in the garage and on the track week in and week out, preparing your car and listening to motors bounce off the rev-limiter all day, you tend to forget how deafening the silence is during the six-month long offseason. We’re definitely not going to complain about getting some time off to refresh and rebuild, but by the time FDLB rolled around, we were more than ready to get back to work.
If you’ve been keeping up, and we certainly hope that you have, you’ll know that it hasn’t actually been that long since you’ve seen Ken Gushi and the GReddy Racing team tear up the track. The new 2JZ powered GReddy Racing Scion FR-S made its official debut just last week, after a long tease that started out at last year’s SEMA Show.
There were a lot of benefits to the EJ25 power plant that the GReddy Racing team was running the previous two seasons, but with the horsepower race in FD getting almost out of hand, switching over to the Toyota-built inline-6 ended up becoming an easy decision. GReddy has as much experience as anyone working with the 2JZ, and that showed immediately as Ken laid down perhaps the most impressive practice runs of anyone in the field on Thursday and Friday.
Qualifying didn’t go quite as planned for Ken and the team, though they still easily secured a spot in the Top 32, earning the 19th seed and a matchup with Odi Bakchis in Round 1. Though Ken’s one of the few drivers who have been in the series since day one, the battle with Odi was their first head to head meeting, putting Ken at an immediate disadvantage as the starting chase driver.
Because of his unfamiliarity with Odi’s driving style, Ken drove his first run conservatively, and ended up leaving a gap between the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S and the lead car. Though Ken put down an impressive lead run afterwards, the judges ruled against him which effectively ended his weekend at Long Beach.
While the result wasn’t as high as we know Ken and the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S are capable of, the team’s already back in the garage, using the data to prepare for the rest of the season. They’ll be back at Long Beach this Friday to compete in the Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge, and will be ready to hit Road Atlanta for Round 2 later next month.
Since Tony’s appearance at the Scion Racing Pre-Season Test Session, he’s given the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S a refreshed livery with new graphics that match both his car’s nose and wheels. Last season was essentially a development year for the TAngelo Racing team, as they worked to get the FR-S chassis dialed in, and they’re ready to see the results of that this season.
Though Tony and his car looked solid in practice, the team ran into some setup issues when it came time to start qualifying. Despite the problems, Tony managed to wrangle the car into the Top 32, which got his team off to a solid start for the year and gave them some extra time to get the car prepped for the main event.
Tony’s widely known around the paddock as one of those guys who are in it nothing more than their passion for drifting, and for that reason, we’re always happy to see him succeed. While he had a tough Top 32 matchup against Tyler McQuarrie, the work that the TAngelo Racing team put in to get there would’ve been more than enough to match that of any team at the top of the bracket.
There’s still a lot of work left for Tony and the TAngelo Racing squad to get done, but we know that they’re well on their way there. With an east coast swing coming up on the calendar, the team will have more time to get the car dialed in at Tony’s Snakepit shop, and should be a lock for more main event appearances throughout the rest of the year.
As for Fredric Aasbo and the Papadakis Racing team, there’s not much more left to say that hasn’t already been said. For the fourth year running, Fredric finds himself Formula Drift’s best, making the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC one of the most feared builds in the series.
The new Rocket Bunny kit on the tC has given the car the aggressive appearance it needed to match Fredric’s style, and with everything else in order, he proceeded to rip up the Long Beach track like he has so many other times in the past. The team earned the 5th best qualifying score of the weekend with ease, which set them up for a first round matchup against Canadian driver Marc Landreville.
It’s become standard fare for Fredric, but while Marc put up a solid battle, Fredric moved on to the Top 16, but not before participating in the event’s opening ceremonies holding a hammer that matched his “Thor” nickname. From there, he took out Conrad Grunewald in his Top 16 battle, before facing his countryman Kenny Moen in the Top 8.
Last season, Fredric was the only driver to place in the Top 8 at every single event, a streak that he doesn’t appear to want to let go of anytime soon. Judging from the driving that he’s shown early on, it doesn’t seem like that’s anything he’ll have to worry about either. Still, one of the draws of FD is that anyone can be taken down in any given matchup, and Long Beach just so happened to be a great event for Kenny Moen.
Fredric’s weekend ended with that battle, but despite the exit, he still managed to pick up enough points to grab the 5th spot in the race for this season’s Pro Championship. Likewise, his finish allowed Hankook to take an early lead in the Tire Manufacturer’s Championship standings, as well as help Scion Racing get to 4th in the OEM Manufacturer’s Championship.
Next weekend, Fredric and the Papadakis Racing team will be joining Ken and the GReddy Racing team at the Motegi Racing Super Drift exhibition, as part of the Toyota Racing Grand Prix of Long Beach. It’s going to be another exciting weekend of motorsport, and we’re hoping to see you there. If you haven’t already, check out both the Toyota Racing and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach sites for the weekend’s schedule, and be sure to keep riding along as we take you through the 2014 Formula Drift season!