On Friday, Fredric Aasbo was among a small handful of elite competitors in Formula Drift. He was a driver who, through his unmatched consistency and “never lift” mentality to drifting, had turned the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC into one of the most feared machines in the series – one that proved it was more than possible for a turbo 4-cylinder motor like the 2AR to keep up with the boosted V8s that have become the norm.
Related: Photos from Formula Drift New Jersey
His ruthlessness on the track left everyone wondering not if he’d ever earn the illusive event win that he’d been searching for since his 2010 rookie season, but rather, when it would happen.
After four and a half years of leaving everything on the table at event after event, and over a decade of honing his craft on the Norwegian countryside, Fredric had finally arrived. By taking the win at FDNJ, he became only the 20th driver in Formula Drift’s 11 year history to earn the right to stand on top of the podium.
Walking through the paddock after the event, it was hard to find anyone who wasn’t happy for him. Despite Fredric’s intensity on the track, he’s developed a reputation as one of the most humble and soft spoken guys off of it. It makes for a jarring transition once he gets behind the wheel of a car, but is also why he’s become a fan favorite over the years. It’s also part of why we couldn’t be prouder of what he accomplished at Formula Drift New Jersey.
Despite all that Fredric has accomplished to get to where he has, that actually only covers half the story. The other part that’s just as important is the work that Stephan Papadakis and the Papadakis Racing team have put in to make it all possible.
For the uninitiated, the relationship between Papadakis Racing and the Scion Racing program began in 2009, as Scion’s then motorsports manager, Steve Hatanaka (pictured far right), reached out as part of his initiative to campaign a second rear wheel drive Scion tC. That move would go on to set off a chain of events that would eventually help form the basis for much of Scion Racing’s success over the next half-decade.
Tanner’s two seasons with Scion Racing went a long way in legitimizing the Scion as a platform, claiming four overall event victories in the Rockstar Scion tC and coming within just a few points of earning the series pro championship both years. Eventually Tanner would end up leaving FD to compete in other series, but not before Steph and his crew identified his successor – a then-unknown kid from Norway driving a Toyota Supra who took a “never lift” approach to driving.
On Saturday, everything came full circle as Fredric took the Scion tC chassis to its 5th event victory becoming the 2nd person to do so in the process.
Though FDNJ was undoubtedly a great result for Fredric and the Papadakis Racing crew, not everything went completely smoothly throughout the event. Namely, in the round of 32, they were forced to go head to head with fellow Scion Racing driver, Tony Angelo.
Tony and his team have been battling mechanical issues with the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S all season long, issues that continued into qualifying for Formula Drift New Jersey as his car was running solely on battery power. Despite the troubles, he managed to string together some of his best runs of the season going into the main event.
Even during his runs against Fredric, he was pushing hard, hanging on the door of the Hankook Tire Scion Racing tC nearly the entire way through his chase run, before going just past the limit and spinning the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S.
His turn to lead started off similarly, with Tony pushing hard against the railing and giving Fredric some of the stiffest competition he would face all weekend. However, again just as they were coming around the inner bank, one of the TAngelo Racing Scion FR-S’ tires rode on to the bank, reducing steering control and giving Fredric the move to the Top 16.
As a competitor, you’re always pushing hard for the best result no matter who you’re facing. And though Tony went up against one of the toughest at Wall Speedway, his performance there should be a telling sign of what he and the TAngelo Racing team have in store for the remainder of the season.
Similar things could be said for Ken and the GReddy Racing team. Part of campaigning a brand new build means that there are going to be teething issues to work through – whether with mechanical components or simply just the driver and car getting used to one another.
Aside from a run-in with the guard rail during practice – fixed with help from Ryan Tuerck and Portland Speed Industries, the GReddy Racing Scion FR-S looking solid through the entire event, laying down some of the more impressive runs we saw.
Facing off against Fredric’s fellow Norwegian countryman, Kenny Moen, the Gush pushed hard and kept stayed close on his chase run – even occasionally disappearing into the smoke trail the lead car left behind.
Ken’s turn to lead produced a similarly close battle, one that had us expecting the judges to call OMT. Ultimately, they opted to award the win to Moen, as the GReddy Racing team completed their weekend with a Top 32 ranking.
After competition weekends, teams usually get the chance to take a quick breather, reflect on their result, and rebuild for the next event. This time around, the GReddy Racing team won’t have that luxury. Immediately after FD Round 4, they were on a plane to their next destination – the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb – where Ken Gushi will be behind the wheel of his former drift GReddy Racing Scion FR-S.
It’s going to be a busy few weeks for us, but we’re happy to hit the road to continue the run that Scion Racing and our partners have been on this season. After Formula Drift New Jersey, we’ve made a huge leap in the FD Manufacturer’s Championship up to 2nd place and just 14.5 points behind Ford. Likewise, we’ve helped Hankook Tire extend their lead in the FD Tire Manufacturer’s Championship to an overwhelming 110 points just past the halfway mark of the season.
And of course, there’s the chase for the FD Pro Championship, a race that now has Fredric Aasbo running in 2nd place after this weekend. There’s still a ways to go before he reaches the top, and Chris Forsberg has built up a solid lead on the rest of the field, but being in Fredric’s corner is as good of a place to be as any.
Driven 2 Drift 2014 – New Jersey will be here soon. Until then, stay tuned for our coverage from our trip to Pikes Peak!