Aasbo aces Long Beach Formula DRIFT
Formula DRIFT took over parts of the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit as the tour opened its 12th season with Round 1: Streets of Long Beach competition on Friday and Saturday, April 10-11. As ever, around 20,000 fans congregated throughout the abbreviated circuit and enjoyed customary beautiful weather over both days as the competitors spewed tire smoke and smell around the course.
By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, many of the favorites – including 2014 champion and last year’s winner of this race Chris Forsberg – had long since parked their rides. Also out in initial competition were fan favorites Conrad Grunewald, Ken Gushi and local racer Kyle Mohan. Former two-time champion Tanner Foust returned to competition but was unable to advance to the Round of 16 either.
The winner of this year’s season starter is Fredric Aasbo, who effectively drove his Rockstar Energy Drink Scion tC around Ryan Tuerck’s similar Scion (he didn’t make the bell in the Final Four after a five-minute competition hold) and Aurimas Bakchis, runner-up in a Feal Suspension Nitto Hyundai Genesis. Aasbo, whose final 2014 races showed that he was gaining momentum in the tough series. In the final round, the Norwegian transplant edged his Romanian competitor to take top step on the podium. Bakchis and Tuerck rounded out the top three with Matt Field in his Nissan S14, the Ford Mustang of 2010 champion Vaughn Gittin Jr and Tyler McQuarrie in the GoPro Mobil 1 Chevrolet Camaro taking positions four-six.
“This is exactly how we want to start the season,” Aasbo said. “With a win here in Long Beach, we are leading the World Championship and the Formula DRIFT Pro Championship. This being the hometown of Rockstar Energy, of Scion and Hankook [Tire], it couldn’t have been any better.”
With this victory and third place result, Scion takes a near-100-point advantage over Ford in the Formula DRIFT championship over Ford with Chevrolet in third place. Formula DRIFT continues to expand, with seven different tire manufacturers, nine vehicle makers and eight former champions vying for both the Formula DRIFT and World championships. Next race on the 10-round schedule is set for Road Atlanta May 8-9.
Words and Photos By Anne Proffit