For the second consecutive season, Papadakis Racing and AEM-sponsored driver Fredric Aasbo took home the event win at Orlando Speedworld, and the team is leaving the state of Florida with the lead in the championship points. In 2016, Aasbo was piloting the Rockstar Energy Drink Scion tC2 to the event win, but this season, Aasbo drove the newly-debuted Rockstar Energy Drink Toyota Corolla iM to the event win. Last season, Orlando Speedworld was the third event on the season schedule, but with a small shuffle of the schedule for 2017, Orlando stands as the second event of the season. The team will take the lead into Road Atlanta for the next round of Formula Drift, just 500 miles north of the Orlando Speedworld site. "What an incredible win! We only built this car over the off season and to get this first win after only the second time out is amazing," said Fredric Aasbo about the win.
Fredric Aasbo's Rockstar Energy Drink Toyota Corolla iM drifts the Orlando Speedworld course
En route to the win, Aasbo received a bye in the top 32 round by qualifying second, then defeated AEM-sponsored driver Matt Field in the Top 16, Alec Hohnadell in the Top 8, and Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Final 4 before reaching the championship battle with former champion Michael Essa. All four drivers in the Final 4 were former Formula Drift champions, showing just how competitive the series is this year. Aasbo was able to defeat Essa with a strong lead run and an aggressive chase run, topping off a perfect day of tandem battles that stretches Aasbo’s undefeated streak at the track to nine consecutive battles dating back to last season.
Fredric Aasbo celebrates his event win on the podium with Michael Essa (2nd) and Dai Yoshihara (3rd)
Aasbo’s battle with Gittin Jr. was one of the better runs of the day, with Aasbo’s chase run showing incredible car control behind Gittin Jr’s Ford Mustang RTR. Gittin Jr’s Mustang has been one of the fastest cars on the grid since it debuted last season, so the ability of the freshly-built Corolla iM to pull away from the Mustang in the lead, and keep within a single car of proximity around the track in the chase position made the team very happy. "Today it all came together especially in that Top 4 battle with Vaughn Gittin Jr. and that was my highlight of the day showing that I can chase really close and getting this first win in the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla iM is huge,” said Aasbo.
After the Scion brand was sunsetted midway through the 2016 season, the Papadakis Racing team was given some freedom to select what car they wanted to build as the next evolution for the team. Although the Toyota Corolla iM doesn’t look like your prototypical drift car, the chassis was selected for the wheelbase (which sits 1 inch longer than the Toyota GT86) and iconic Corolla nameplate that has historically been synonymous with the roots of drifting. Overall, the car has a longer wheelbase than a Nissan S14, but just slightly shorter than both the Scion tC2 that was campaigned over the past few seasons (and won the 2015 Formula Drift championship) and slightly longer than the current S550 Ford Mustang chassis.
Fredric Aasbo prepares for battle in his Papadakis Racing built Toyota Corolla iM
The Papadakis Racing built chassis debuted to a 5th place finish in Long Beach, the kickoff event of the 8-round Formula Drift schedule, to a huge fanfare. As the first 4-door hatchback drift car in the series, fans were anxious to peak under the hood of the car at the first event. The car maintains the same 2AR powerplant as the previous Scion tC2, pushing more than 800 horsepower through the drivetrain before the 150-shot of nitrous is enabled. Aasbo piloted the car to a 4th place qualifying effort and a 5th place finish at Long Beach, which earned them 52 championship points after the debut event for the car. With the improved finish in Orlando, Aasbo now holds a 16 point lead entering Atlanta.
Fredric Aasbo defeated fellow AEM-sponsored driver Matt Field in the Top 16 in Orlando
The Orlando event win marked the ninth of Aasbo’s Formula Drift career, tying him with Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Samuel Hubinette for most all-time in the 90-event history of Formula Drift. The win was also Aasbo’s second consecutive win at Orlando, making him the winningest driver in the state of Florida. Previous competitions at Homestead Speedway and Palm Beach Raceway were all won by different competitors, making Aasbo the only two-time winner in the state. Looking ahead to the famed Road Atlanta track, Aasbo has previously podiumed in 2012 and 2014, earning second place both times. Atlanta marks the only track on the current Formula Drift schedule that Aasbo has yet to win at, which would help extend his current lead in the championship. Atlanta is also the birthplace of the Formula Drift series, and said to have some of the rowdiest fans on the schedule.
Fredric Aasbo eliminated Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the Top 4 en route to the event win
Aasbo and the Papadakis Racing team will be visiting the Toyota Manufacturing facility in Blue Springs, Mississippi, in the down time between Orlando and Atlanta. The visit will likely bring new inspiration and motivation to continue the success through the rest of the Formula Drift season.