Feal Suspension S13.4 at RSR Drift Festival 2023, Suzuka Twin Circuit

Aasbo and Bakchis Lead the Charge for Team USA at Historic RSR Drift Festival 2023

Drifting has a rich history in both the US and Japan, and both RSR USA / Japan decided to do something special in conjunction with Formula DRIFT / Formula DRIFT Japan to celebrate 20 years of this iconic motorsport. Enter the RSR Drift Festival, where four of FD’s current top drivers were invited to represent Team USA — including two Team ENEOS drivers, Fredric Aasbo and Odi Bakchis (along with Matt Field and Dylan Hughes) — to go heads up against four legendary Japanese drivers: Manabu “Max” Orido, Nobuteru “NOB” Taniguchi, Yoichi Imamura and Tetsuya Hibino. Judging the event would be another Team ENEOS member, Dai Yoshihara, along with former US PRO drifters Ernie Fixmer and Andy Yen.

RSR Toyota 86, driven by Fredric Aasbo, for RSR Drift Festival 2023
RSR Drift Festival presented by RSR USA / Japan
Dai Yoshihara, special guest judge for RSR Drift Festival 2023

Held at Suzuka Twin Circuit, a small track in Nagoya that’s utilized for one of the Formula DRIFT Japan rounds, RSR Japan let Aasbo compete in their V8-powered GT86 while Bakchis shipped a demo Feal Suspension S13.4 hatchback (Field sent a backup Corvette while Hughes opted for his diesel Benz-powered BMW E46 wagon).

Bakchis and Aasbo during practice, RSR Drift Festival 2023
Max Orido, pilot of the RSR Japan Supra, during driver photo session

Team Japan’s vehicle roster included several historical heavy hitters, such as Imamura’s iconic A’PEXi FD3S RX-7 (left virtually unmodified for 17 years, he even brought the old crew that worked on the car back in the day to help out) and Orido’s RSR Supra JZA80, coupled with the more modern HKS 86 piloted by Taniguchi and Hibino’s RSR S15 Silvia.

NOB Taniguchi driving the HKS 86, RSR Drift Festival 2023

Both teams had three challenges to face: Biggest Backie, Great 8 Tandem Battle and Team Drift USA vs Japan. For the Biggest Backie, drivers were given two non-consecutive runs (highest score counted) to meet the following criteria: biggest possible angle for the longest period of time, hold the most consistent momentum, and the least amount of front wheel inputs when at angle; each driver drew for their run order. The top four qualifiers from both sides would then line up against each other for the Great 8 bracket competition (no One More Time calls until the final round). Finally, Team Drift would give both teams two non-consecutive runs to all four cars without rules or limits to give the best performance for a possible 0-100 score.

Bakchis throws it down at Suzuka Twin Circuit, RSR Drift Festival 2023.
Bakchis with a solid Backie practice run, RSR Drift Festival 2023.

As fate would have it, Odi drew first in the order but did not disappoint, throwing down a monster pass that the judges awarded with a 95.33 to lead things off with; he adapted for his second run and was more smooth and consistent but was a point shy with a 94.33 — Odi’s best Backie score would hold at 95.33 and the highest scoring driver for Team USA.

Fredric Aasbo draws third in the run order for the Backie competition, RSR Drift Festival 2023.
Aasbo practicing for the Backie competition, RSR Drift Festival 2023.

Aasbo drew third in the order and also went hard on his first pass, precise and fluid as ever, good for a 92.66; his second pass was less aggressive but with massive angle, resulting in a 92.33, a hair less than his first run.

Field, who experienced engine issues, resorted to using Wataru Masayama’s Buy Now Japan S15 as a backup and had a best Backie with a 87.33 due to limited seat time and spinning out during his second attempt.

Dylan Hughes in his turbocharged diesel Benz-powered E46 wagon, RSR Drift Festival 2023.

Hughes’ diesel-smoke blowing E46 looked insane during practice as it puffed black clouds around Suzuka Twin Circuit, but had the most difficult time during the Backie competition; his 88.33 second pass was the highest scoring run.

Tetsuya Hibino (L) with Dai Yoshihara and Max Orido, RSR Drift Festival 2023.
Orido precision drifting with the RSR Japan Supra, RSR Drift Festival 2023.

Orido kicked things off for Team Japan’s Backie runs after drawing fourth, and while he drove the RSR Supra fluidly throughout his first pass it did lack impact, resulting in a 83.66, the best score as he spun out on the second run.

The legendary A’PEXi FD3S RX-7 piloted by Yoichi Imamura, virtually unmodified in 17 years, RSR Drift Festival 2023.

Imamura drew fifth and was the most highly anticipated driver to watch as many hadn’t seen him in the A’PEXi RX-7 for a very long time — his first pass was conservative and safe, lacking speed and excitement, resulting in a 79.66; he had a slightly better second pass, but again was played safely to land a 80.66, the lowest score on the Japanese team.

Running seventh was Hibino, who unlike his elders, went fast and hard with the RSR S15 to earn a 95.33 on his first run to tie Odi for first place — then on his second pass, Hibino let it ALL out like a gangster to lock in the top spot of the day with a 97.66 and P1 for the Great 8 bracket!

The late arrival to the party was NOB Taniguchi, who had a prior commitment at Suzuka Circuit and couldn’t make practice. But the legendary veteran didn’t need much time to warm up the HKS 86. His first pass was fast and fluid, good for an 88.00; second pass NOB dropped the hammer more aggressively but it wasn’t quite enough to top Hibino with a 90.44 and P4 for the Great 8.


Fresh off a second place overall finish in the 2023 FD USA Championship, Odi lined up against Imamura for the first battle in the Great 8 competition, a culture clash of drift machines and two generations of drivers, one with a LS-powered 240SX and the other in control of a former D1GP winning RX-7. Odi led first and showed why he was so great in FD this season, filling all the zones and checking all the boxes around Suzuka Twin Circuit. Imamura had slightly less angle and couldn’t maintain proximity, giving the advantage to Odi. Imamura’s lead was smooth but Odi stayed extra tight on his door, mimicking his every move to take the advance.

Odi’s Final 4 battle pitted him against Taniguchi, who originally was taken out by Hughes in the Great 8. But since Hughes’ E46 was having mechanical issues, he bowed out gracefully and offered his spot to Taniguchi, who was happy to oblige to the Japanese home crowd. Odi got a huge jump on his lead straight away with his LS-powered S13 with Taniguchi unable to close the gap. NOB’s lead was more dynamic but it wasn’t enough to overcome Odi, who advanced to the next round.

Aasbo paired up against his RSR teammate Orido, in a battle between a V8-powered Toyota 86 and a JZA80 Supra. Aasbo launched aggressively with huge initiation to ride the line perfectly, leaving Orido in his dust. Swapping places, Orido had a smooth lead but Aasbo stuck right on him to take the win.

Aasbo versus Bakchis in the Great 8 finals, RSR Drift Festival 2023.

With Hughes out to make repairs, Hibino advanced past Field but lost against Aasbo to meet Taniguchi in the battle for third place, which Taniguchi won. This left the Team ENEOS teammates for the final matchup. Both Fredric and Odi battled in typical FD fashion: with aggression and precision, the first matchup was too close to call with the judges calling for a OMT. Odi lined up first being the number one Backie qualifier and both drivers again went hard, nearly identical runs. As Odi chased, he followed too aggressively while initiating and tapped Aasbo, sealing his fate. Aasbo took the win for Team USA!


With the main competition complete, it was time to let loose — after all, what’s a little celebration without some fun?! This is where both Team USA and Japan were given very clear instructions: no rules, no limits. USA went first, but unfortunately it was a three-car team as Hughes’ wagon couldn’t be fixed in time, so he rode shotgun with Aasbo.

Of course they demonstrated aggressive maneuvers backed up by the sounds of raw V8 power: first Field led Aasbo and Bakchis, and upon initiation Aasbo slid up to the lead as Field dropped back, then Bakchis swapped places with Field as they neared the end of the course, known as a double burst. They backed it up with a burst pass on the second run, which the Japanese crowd loved. For their second run, Field led Aasbo and Bakchis again and after initiation, the trio created a donut formation before breaking off to finish the course; once done, they flipped around to do the same tricks in reverse, creating a smoky finale for Team USA.

But Team Japan had something brilliant up their sleeve, and it was clear at the starting line from the four car line up they meant business. In true form, they glided effortlessly and seamlessly with precision as a formation, then split into smaller two-car groups towards the end of the course. Then they flipped directions and went in reverse order! But just when you thought it was over, they flipped around again and broke off into two groups to pull donuts in front of the judges stand to the everyone’s delight. For their second pass, Imamura experienced mechanical issues off the line and had to pull off, leaving Team Japan as a trio. Hibino’s S15 and Orido’s Supra had taken their toll from the day but they managed to pull off a couple clean passes before completing a smoky finish for themselves in the same manner as Team USA did. By the end it was a unanimous decision: Team Japan was awarded the victory for Team Drift!

ENEOS is proud to have celebrated 20 years of drifting with RSR USA / Japan and Formula DRIFT USA / Japan at the RSR Drift Festival, and look forward to doing this again sometime in the future!

Photos: @mke.andy and @matt.marcu