It’s a tough enough challenge to master that only a few have ever done it – repeat as World Champion in Formula Drift. After a 2013 final round that ended in protest, with Chris Forsberg being edged out by Michael Essa by the narrowest of margins, the 2014 final would again come down to the final event. Better than that it came down to the final RUN of the championship season. This time Chris would find himself atop the only podium that matters to these guys. The one that would define him as the 2014 Formula Drift World Champion. And make no mistake, this is a true world championship which sees drivers come to the US for seven rounds from every corner of the globe. Places that include Japan, Mexico, Norway, Ireland, China, Canada, Sweden, Greece, Finland and even Lithuania. That’s an impressive list of countries for a championship which is just now in its 11th year of existence. That drivers from such a diverse range of countries want to come here to battle for a championship, I think, says something about the organization itself. Like any organizing body, Formula Drift is not without its imperfections and controversies, but what I’ve noticed having covered it now for just three years, is that they seem to be willing to make a change to help progress in a positive direction. I like that. Fluidity, and recognizing the need for change can be a good thing.
It was an exciting championship year and even the casual fan had to appreciate the fact that it came down to the bitter end. A nail biter, for sure, the championship was won by just eleven points over second place Fredric Aasbo. Even more exciting was the fact that Aasbo took Forsberg out in an earlier round, which gave Fredric the opportunity to steal the championship. In order to do so, Fredric would need to win the event overall. A real possibility considering how well Fredric had driven, not only that day, but all season long. So there he was, in the final against Daigo Saito. All he had to do was win this last round of competition to lock up the championship. But there was no way Saito was going to make it easy for him. Saito had won the Irwindale final the past two years and it was clear he had a handle on this track.
After the two runs in the final, it was so close that I don’t think anyone knew who had taken the win. The judges weren’t saying anything. They had Aasbo, Saito, Wang (who had already locked up third with a top qualifying effort) and Forsberg all line up along the front stretch in front of the grand stands. When the announcement came, it was a madhouse – a mixture of cheers and boos, and an immediate turn to celebration around Chris Forsberg. His Drift Alliance teammates immediately lifted him onto their shoulders, while Aasbo was reduced to the wince of pain that accompanies the agony of defeat.
You can’t feel too bad for Aasbo. With talent like his, and as consistent as his driving has become over the past couple years, you have to think his championships will come, sooner rather than later.
Already looking forward to the start of the 2015 season in Long Beach. Here are my favorite photos from the Formula Drift Finals in Irwindale, California.
Long Beach and round one of the 2015 Formula Drift season is right around the corner. Can’t wait.