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2021 Formula Drift Champion Hails From Norway, Drives a GR Supra

Winter is coming. So most motorsports events around the world, save for a few warmer places, are coming to a stop. There are still a few Formula 1 and MotoGP events left on the calendar, but for Formula Drift, the off-season has just begun. And with that in mind, a new champion has been crowned in California this past weekend.
2021 Formula Drift Champion Hails From Norway, Drives a GR Supra 16 photos
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2021 marks the 18th season of Formula Drift. For 18 years, FD has been a dream for aspiring drifters and pro drifters not only in the USA but around the world. The season started in Atlanta, then moved on to Orlando, Englishtown, Erie, Monroe, St. Louis, and Long Beach. The last round was scheduled to take place on the 22nd and 23rd of October, at Irwindale Speedway in California.

Here's a fun fact: this venue is also known as the "House of Drift," and it's the only track to be included on the calendar every year since 2004! For this last race of the year, 66 drivers showed up at the track: 32 Pros and 34 for the Prospec class. The "Norwegian Hammer," Fredric Aasbo went into qualifying with high hopes, knowing that he was already leading the championship.

Driving his GR Supra, he qualified 1st overall, proving once again why he is still one of the most formidable drivers in the series. Lithuanian driver Aurimas Bakchis clinched second place in his Nissan S15, while Michael Essa took third in his BMW M3. Daijiro Yoshihara, who had announced his retirement from the series after more than a decade of drifting, came in 7th.

But Yoshihara isn't the only veteran that the fans will miss. Because Vaughn Gittin JR. has also recently announced, he will be taking a break from competitive drifting to focus on other projects. His qualifying result wasn't as impressive, as he finished the session in 21st, not far behind his teammate, Chelsea Denofa. One other change for the series is that FD President and co-founder Jim Liaw will be at the helm of PRI starting next year while still retaining a role in the series.

Looking at the Top32 battles bracket, Aasbo, Bakchis, and Essa would all get Bye Runs straight to the Top16. For the Prospec qualifying session, Canadian driver Tommy Lemaire came in 1st in his Nissan S14.5. He was followed by two KoruWorks drivers, Nick Noback and Blake Olsen, both representing the United States of America. The main event took place on Saturday, and Aasbo just blew past his opponents on the way to the final battle.

Tuerck tried to stop him in the Top8 but failed to do so, while Vaughn Gittin JR also suffered the same fate in the Top4. At least Vaughn went out in style, finishing 3rd for this event and 5th overall in the championship. Even so, his previous two championship titles, which he won in 2010 and 2020, are a testament to him being one of the most successful pro drifters in the United States.

On the other side of the bracket, both Bakchis and Field were fighting for a spot on the podium. But, while Bakchis had to go through Jeff Jones and Chris Forsberg, you could say Matt Field had some bigger obstacles, having to face Justin Pawlak and Chelsea Denofa. But Matt Field would have to settle for 4th, while Bakchis went all the way to the top. That's right; he even won the final battle against Aasbo!

For the Prospec part of the evening, Daniel Stuke took the win, with Dmitriy Brutskiy and Nick Noback finishing in 2nd and 3rd. With that in mind, Fredric Aasbo is the 2021 Formula Drift Champion! This brings him into the select club of drivers who have won two FD titles: Samuel Hübinette, Tanner Foust, and Vaughn Gittin JR. He still needs one more if he wants to be on par with the likes of Chris Forsberg and James Deane though!

Matt Field was runner-up for this season, some 31 points behind Aasbo. With Bakchis winning this last race, he jumped into 3rd place in the overall rankings, a mere 3 points short of being tied with Field. I know there were a lot of people rooting for Chelsea Denofa this year, and he came close to being crowned champion. Ultimately, he has to settle for 4th overall.

Ryan Tuerck and Chris Forsberg finished the season in 6th and 7th, and it's surprising to see Justin Pawlak down in 14th. Daijiro Yoshihara is 17th overall, but his 2011 title and years of impressive driving won't be soon forgotten. Last but not least, Dmitriy Brutskiy is the new Prospec champion for the second year in a row! Hailing from Belarus, he is the first Prospec driver to have two titles under his belt! 



 
 
 
 
 

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