It’s the end of another Formula Drift Season but it was far from ordinary. While many drivers struggled with issues prior to qualifying our AEM Drivers were able to take the field to task with an event win at Irwindale and a Championship. Chris Forsberg narrowly beat out fellow AEM driver, Fredric Aasbo, for his third Formula Drift Pro Championship despite not winning the entire season. For him, consistency was the key but Matt Field was able to take out the twenty-nine car field for his second event win in 2016.
Three Time Formula Drift Champion and AEM Driver, Chris Forsberg
Depending on how you view it, getting a championship without a win can be considered the boring way to do it. From the point of view of a driver in this position, it’s far easier to lose the championship without one and makes it quite the nail-biter at the final round. This is especially true if the next closest championship contender only has to go a round or two further than you do and you’re stuck on the sideline watching in the last event of the season. This was exactly the unenviable situation that AEM-sponsored driver, Chris Forsberg and his NOS Energy team were in at Irwindale.
While Chris was able to perform better than his opponent in Top Thirty-Two, he would find trouble in the Top Sixteen while in his follow run. The lead driver went in deep and fast into the inner bank, which resulted in him slowing more than he had normally in the event. Chris wasn’t prepared for such a dramatic deceleration, made contact with the lead driver, and then the wall. This put his competition night to an end but his championship hopes weren’t dashed at the moment. Fredric Aasbo in the Rockstar Energy Scion tC, and fellow AEM driver, could have taken it away if he could make it into the Final Four.
The fans gather at Irwindale for the final round at the AEM Booth
For the prior rounds, Aasbo’s performance would have been a given. That would have continued to be true until he would face Matt Field in the Gears of War 4 Nissan 240SX. Not only was Matt a fellow AEM-sponsored driver – he was also coming off of a win at the previous round at Texas. You could also feel that Matt was fully prepared for this round. His driving, attitude and team made it well known: he was here to win no matter who he faced off against. While Aasbo and Matt made contact at the final clipping point, the damage wasn’t as bad as feared. Field then took charge and kept close proximity with Aasbo. His performance and the mistake by Aasbo would mean that Matt Field would charge on into the Great Eight and Chris Forsberg would get an unprecedented third Formula Drift Pro Championship.
AEM-sponsored driver of the NOS Energy 370Z, Chris Forsberg and team upon winning the Championship
With a third Formula Drift Pro Championship, Forsberg writes new history for the series. “It feels great to win another championship,” he said after learning about his title win, “I know it wasn’t the way we wanted to win it after throwing our car into the wall, but a championship is won in the entire season; it isn’t won on one event.” Forsberg continued, “One of the best advantages to a championship season is reliability, keeping dirt, dust, and rubber out of our engine is crucial and we know that we can rely on AEM Filtration to achieve that. With zero mechanical failures, we were able to battle our way to 1st Place!”
2015 Formula Drift Champion, Fredric Aasbo, had this to say after the event, “It’s been an incredible rollercoaster year and we went after it with everything we had. We came off our championship win last year and have had two stellar years now.” With results like that, Aasbo and Papadakis Racing are now seen as a top team in FD, “I think it’s a big testament to not only the team but my partners who allowed us to take this unusual build – a build that perhaps not everyone had faith in – and turn it into arguably one of the best cars out there and, with our 2AR engine being the smallest engine in the field, we are pushing it to the very edge. For our engine to breathe freely and reliably, AEM Intakes have allowed us to do that year after year.”
Matt Field, AEM driver, takes his second straight win at Irwindale
Field would go on to win the event in dominate fashion and his year was just as amazing. In the final two events, he would have a ten-win streak, faced and beat a former Formula Drift Champion five times, and faced and beat a Top Ten points driver seven times. “Feels really good to get two in a row,” said Matt Field at the podium, “We got a set of new, custom designed filters from AEM right before competition day. With that, we feel it gave us the edge we needed to nudge out the competition. Every piece of the whole package counts when you're competing for a win. We still tried really hard to drive smart, unfortunately we made one mistake in the finals but we were graced with a one more time and then the win.”
All of AEM’s sponsored drivers put on amazing performances at the final round of the Formula Drift Pro Championship and in the series at Irwindale. Kristaps Bluss in the HGK Motorsports BMW M3 would finish out the event in the Top Sixteen and twelfth in the points standings – an amazing result for a driver in only his second year in the series and missing one round. Not far behind him was Michael Essa in his Loudmouth Exhaust BMW M3, finishing the event in the Top Thirty-Two after facing Bluss and ending his year fourteenth in points. While Fredric Aasbo wasn’t able to clench a second championship in a row, he was still able to take second in points. With his two wins and performance in the entire season, Matt Field closed out the year fifth in points. Finally, as mentioned earlier, Chris Forsberg forges new ground with not only a third championship – the only driver in the history of Formula Drift to do so – but also win without taking a single win and showing unfailing performance is what wins at the end of the day.
AEM-sponsored driver of the NOS Energy 370Z, Chris Forsberg, is your first three-time Champion