While he was close to taking a second championship in a row in Formula Drift, Fredric Aasbo still had an amazing year in 2016. From the highs of Long Beach to the immediate low at Road Atlanta to just losing out of the championship at Irwindale, this was definitely the repeat performance that Fredric was looking for after 2015 even without a championship. It was all thanks to the skill and development of Papadakis Racing and AEM.
AEM-sponsored Fredric Aasbo preparing himself mentally for a race
Long Beach, being the only temporary street course in Formula Drift, is never really the same year after year. Yes, the corners are all laid out the same each year but since the surface is constantly used by normal, day-to-day traffic, its grip can change each time they run it. With a podium to start off the season, Fredric was feeling the pressure, “The bar was set high following our 2015 championship title season and we were excited to hit the ground running.”
Then came Road Atlanta and what is considered one of the most popular tracks they tour to when it comes to fan interaction. This legendary facility was one the first to host an official Formula Drift round when it was first formed, so it’s long standing status is hard to beat. However, this would be the round to test the mettle of the team overall. It looked like it was going to be another podium result but it was a puncture that took the team out of Top 32.
Formula Drift Orlando was tough last year, but the entire time came back with a win in 2016
Orlando was the tough event for Fredric and Papadakis Racing in 2015, but in 2016 they turned it around and came back with a win. Aasbo stated, “After having struggled in Florida in the past, we turned it around big time and won round 3 in Orlando! We couldn't match the speed of the faster cars, but being consistent on the proper line prevailed and took us all the way. Our championship hopes were back up - and after only three rounds in the season, it was already feeling like a rollercoaster ride.”
Wall Speedway is one of the shorter tracks the teams drive on in the season, but it’s also the track with the most aggressive oval banking. This allows for high speeds initially, which also invites high risk and disaster that can happen right out of the gate. With a Top 8 finish, the team continued on the championship hunt.
Brand new and going north of the US border, Formula Drift visits Montreal, Quebec, Canada
For the first time ever, Formula Drift held a professional round outside of the United States in Canada. A new track means a high learning curve for everyone involved but that didn’t stop Aasbo. “It reminds me of the fast flowing, rhythmic tracks of Europe,” said Fredric, “I love the track and the fan vibe is electric.” That feeling of familiarity translated into a win and even more valuable points towards his 2016 finish.
The new round six was back in the US and into familiar territory with Evergreen Speedway. This, along with Irwindale and Road Atlanta, is one of the fastest tracks in Formula Drift with a long, sweeping bank for the first turn and on power until the exit of “Power Alley”. Here, Aasbo admits it was two mistakes that cost him a chance to make it into the Final 4, but a top 8 finish was still a positive result. “We have been doing well at this track in the past, but couldn't quite find the rhythm this time.”
Taking the day to night transition at Texas is challenging for all the Formula Drift drivers
Round seven took them into the heart of Texas at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. While the track hasn’t changed much since the first year Formula Drift went here, the direction has. The big sweeper is the very first corner and requires big power. It’s also the track that lacks good visibility – It’s a demanding track for car and driver despite how simple it looks. Texas would end up as another top 8 finish for Fredric but his title chances were still very alive.
The final round was another legendary track in not just Formula Drift, but drifting itself – Irwindale Speedway. Considered the birthplace of American drifting, Irwindale has seen some epic battles for not only the round win but the Formula Drift Championship as well. This year would be no different except for something you wouldn't expect in drifting. “The grip level at Irwindale this year was just insane - it was definitely the grippiest track I've ever drifted on.” Fredric continued, “That's when having the smallest motor in the field gets tricky, because you rely on power to break traction. But thanks to our super sophisticated engine management setup and AEM Induction, we not only squeeze out around 1000-horsepower from our 2.7 liter four-banger, the engine also drives like a way bigger V8. The combination of various drive by wire, nitrous, and boost control strategies make the power delivery super linear.” While Fredric was able to advance further than Chris Forsberg in this final round, his defeat by Matt Field would be the thing that prevented Aasbo from taking the 2016 Championship.
Aasbo doing battle with Matt Field at the final round of the final stop at Irwindale Speedway
While 2016 did not end up being the year Fredric Aasbo and Papadakis Racing would repeat and take a second championship, there was still great moments that proved that the team were worthy of that 2015 Championship. “2016 has been a fantastic roller coaster ride of a season,” he says, “Even though we weren't able to back up our 2015 championship win, we learned plenty of things that will allow us to come back stronger. 2017 looks to be an exciting year with lots of changes - but we are staying true to our engine setup. Thanks to ingenious engineering and having partnered with the best in the business, Papadakis Racing has turned a small, lightweight engine into a championship contender that definitely punches above its weight. See you in Long Beach!” We all look forward to that as well and wish the best of luck to Fredric Aasbo in 2017 but he may not need it thanks to the power his Papadakis Racing Toyota puts out with AEM Induction.
Looking back, 2016 was still a great year, even without a championship for Fredric Aasbo