After a long season of drifting all across the country and the world the 2015 Formula Drift season officially came to a close at the place where American drifting pretty much began. Not only did the final round of the season take place over the weekend but quite possibly the last drifting event to ever be held at Irwindale Speedway or “The House Of Drift” as it came to be known. If you saw our live stream post you probably read all the reasons why this was likely one of the most important weekends of drifting ever.
Fredric Aasbo came into the weekend with an incredibly comfortable lead in both the Pro Championship and the (first ever) World Championship. In fact all Aasbo needed to do was qualify and win in his first battle of the top 32 and he would be a mathematical lock for both titles. In case you are wondering why Aasbo would be able to lock in the World Championship at Irwindale, it was a direct result of Formula Drift having to cancel the final World Championship round originally to take place in China. With that round off the schedule Irwindale became the final World Championship round. To make a long story short Aasbo qualified (5th) and won his first top 32 battle against Kristaps Bluss to win both titles. However, as joyous as that was for Fredric it was hardly the most exciting part of the weekend.
There were several pretty shocking and surprising moments and developments that transpired over just Saturday. First was Fredric Aasbo driving like a man possessed. I completely expected Aasbo to do what he needed to do to win his Championships. However, I didn’t expect him to really go beyond that as he was slated to face Daigo Saito in the Top 16. For context, Saito has won at Irwindale every year since he has entered the series back in 2012. The man has simply never lost a battle at The House Of Drift… That is until this weekend. Yes, fresh after winning two championships Aasbo ended Daigo’s Irwindale win streak! This blew my expectations for the event wide open. I had Saito as the winner of Irwindale pegged but it was not to be.
Aasbo went on to win the round, thus putting a stamp on is stellar season. Although the evening’s battles showed the sold out crowd what they could expect for the 2016 season as several drivers really came into their own at Irwindale since most of them had nothing to lose. Matt Field has been killing it all season but he really became a force to be reckoned with at Irwindale. He battled so hard against Odi Bakchis in the top 16 that his tires literally caught fire! He was ok though but it was a spectacular sight.
Ken Gushi put on quite an impressive performance as well as he fought hard (even through some contact) to make it all the way to the final battle against the 2015 champ, Aasbo. Gushi put up a respectable fight but was having some car issues which prevented him from giving it his all. Gushi fought Aasbo for the Pro championship all year and nearly had it were it not for a less than stellar performance in Long Beach. Even Aasbo himself pegged Gushi to win the 2016 championship. After watching Gushi’s performance all year, especially his Irwindale run, I am inclined to agree with Aasbo. Rounding out the top 3 with the 3rd podium spot was the always impressive Forrest Wang.
Well there you have it. Aasbo is your 2015 Formula Drift Pro and World Champion and Gushi is literally “the future”. Stay tuned for our official gallery and a few more stories from Irwindale!