It was going to take a long shot victory by one of the drivers still in the hunt for the championship to knock would be 2015 Formula Drift Champion Fredric Aasbo off the top step of the podium. Along with that long shot, another long shot would have to happen, as well. Fredric Aasbo would have to either not qualify or at the very worst not make it past the round of 32. You might say that the championship was won before the day even got started. But we all know that in motorsports – particularly in a judged motorsport like drifting, anything can and probably has happened. So the two contenders to Aasbos apparent lock on the title, Ken Gushi and Chris Forsberg, kept their sights squarely on the task at hand.
Gushi would prove early that he was in it for the win and put his Greddy Performance Scion Racing Hankook Tire FRS in the third qualifying position. Aasbo would qualify fifth, putting him on the opposite side of the ladder. Chris Forsberg would qualify ninth.
In the round of 32, Aasbo would face Kristaps Bluss – A driver that had shown throughout the year that he was no pushover. The driver from Latvia would put together two solid runs against Aasbo, but the racing gods had made up their mind, and Fredric would get the round win and the Championship. Much joy and celebration was had, and all before the round of 32 had even been completed.
There was still much to decide, however. Being that this could be the last time the Formula Drift finals are ever contested at The House of Drift, everyone had their heart set on being what could be the last Champion ever crowned here.
Gushi knew the championship was lost, but still had to make his way through the field in order to secure second place – The best “worst” position to be in after a hard fought season that will be remembered for it’s horrible weather. Gushi would ultimately make the final, working his way through the very tough likes of Jonathan CAtro, Mike Essa, Charles Ng (Ng was in a car borrowed from eventual third place finisher, Forrest Wang), and finally Justin Pawlak. JTP was on a tear all weekend, and as the rounds went on seemed to be in best form to get himself to the top step of the weekend podium.
It was almost perfectly appropriate that Aasbo would make the finals. After having won the Championship earlier in the day, and also now a lock for the World Championship, all Aasbo had to do now was win this final round against Gushi and the perfect weekend would be complete. He wouldn’t have an easy go at it, however, facing the very tough foe in the round of 16 – Daigo Saito. Daigo, over the past few years, has been unbeatable at this track. He has literally never lost a round here at Irwindale since first running here in 2012. That’s an impressive feat in it’s own right, but those impressive battles in years past would not help him against Aasbo today. After taking down the three time king of Irwindale, Aasbo worked his way through “Mad” Mike Whiddett, and finally Forrest Wang o his way to the finals to face Gushi.
After a very long weekend, the final was almost ridiculously quick in it’s completion. Two quick runs and the judges had determined the winner. The crowd fell silent as the top three competitors lined up in front of the main grandstand. The PA crackled for a moment as the winner was announced, and as expected, Fredric Aasbo would take home the win. A perfect weekend for Fredric Aasbo.
Another Formula Drift season in the books. Ad before the champagne spray was dried from the gathering crowd at the podium, there was already talk in the paddock about plans for next season. I know at least one former world champion that’s changing his program completely. We’ll bring you that story soon…
Congrats to all the drivers and teams that braved the weird weather and tough conditions all season long. Here are more of my favorite photos from the final round of the 2015 Formula Drift season.