Bakchis Finishes Second Overall in 2023 Formula DRIFT PRO Championship
It all comes down to this… in what can only be described as the most intense, drama-filled season of Formula DRIFT ever, we saw Team ENEOS rise to the top in the most unexpected ways, and we thank each member for putting on one hell of a show.
Following an insane Utah round where we saw Ben Hobson was crowned the 2023 PROSPEC Champion and Simen Olsen finish third in PRO competition, Round 8 of the FD PRO Championship: Type S Title Fight brought the nail-biting season to a close at the House of Drift, Irwindale Speedway. It would involve mathematical probabilities to decide the fate of all Team ENEOS drivers, including the three-time and defending Champion, Fredric Aasbo in the Rockstar Energy Toyota GR Supra; Odi Bakchis in the Feal Suspension / GT Radial Nissan S15; and Simen Olsen in the Feal Suspension Nissan S14.9.
The performance of the Team ENEOS drivers at the Finals would mean the difference between standing on the podium or going home empty-handed. Coming into Irwindale, the two Norwegians, Olsen and Aasbo, were 77 (third overall) and 81 (fourth overall) points, respectively, behind series leader Chelsea DeNofa, while Bakchis was 109 points behind in fifth and out of contention for the title.
The Top 32 is where disaster struck hard against several heavy hitters chasing a Championship, including the Norwegian Hammer. In an uncharacteristic chain of events, we saw Aasbo chase Toyota Racing teammate Jhonnattan Castro first because of Fredric’s lower qualifying position. After the transition into Outside Zone 1, he tried to get closer but went too deep, causing him to tap the wall and straighten, while Castro maintained a clean pass. Aasbo had a monster lead run but the damage had already been done; Castro chased safely to advance into the Top 16, ending Aasbo’s weekend and knocking him out of Championship contention. Aasbo finished sixth overall for the season and still holds the distinct honor of being a three-time FD Champion.
“Castro held it together while I didn’t,” Aasbo explained. “I always enjoy driving against him, and this loss isn’t something I take lightly. We started the season well but struggled in the second half. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and come back stronger. Thanks again to ENEOS for helping our Supra perform at its highest level all season!”
Meanwhile, the Feal Race Team had its work cut out despite Odi qualifying P2 and receiving a bye-run into the Top 16. Olsen advanced through the Top 32 and Aasbo, Field and DeNofa were eliminated, but he’d need to win the entire event in order to claim the Championship title – no pressure!
Unfortunately, Olsen was defeated in the Top 16 by three-time FD PRO Champion Chris Forsberg after a superior chase run by the driver of the NOS Energy Drink / GT Radial Nissan Z. That defining moment locked in DeNofa as the 2023 Formula DRIFT PRO Champion. For Olsen, he still had a chance of finishing third overall , but it would depend on how his Feal Race Team boss finished the Irwindale round.
As the only remaining member of Team ENEOS and Feal, Odi gave it everything despite being knocked out of Championship contention at Utah. He battled brilliantly to the Final against Nick Noback and the Noback Racing Co E46 BMW by Jerry Yang Racing. But Noback was on fire and beat Odi by the slimmest of margins. Finishing second at Irwindale meant Odi also finished second in the PRO Championship.
While Odi wasn’t able to claim a Championship, second place is the best result of his FD career. It was also his first year leading and managing the extremely successful Feal Race Team; his two new drivers benefitting greatly from his years of experience: Ben Hobson won the PROSPEC Championship with the Pedal Commander / Feal Suspension / Koruworks / Motegi Racing Nissan S14 and Olsen clinched fourth in the PRO series.
“I can’t thank Feal Race Team enough, we put a great group of people together this season,” Odi said after securing second. “We got a lot of podiums, and I’m so thankful for them and my family for what we were able to achieve. It takes a village to make this happen, so thank you ENEOS for being part of our program. I’m so pumped we got to enjoy this together!”
We are incredibly proud of Team ENEOS for their efforts in the 2023 Formula DRIFT PRO and PROSPEC Championships; you truly demonstrated why you are the best drifters in the world!