Team ENEOS Attacks 2023 Formula DRIFT Long Beach Season Opener
Team ENEOS kicked off the opening round of the 20th anniversary season of Formula DRIFT in fine form, as defending champ Fredric Aasbo finished third overall in the Rockstar Energy Drink Toyota GR Supra. Odi Bakchis made his ENEOS debut in the Feal Suspension Nissan S15 Silvia, finishing in the Top 32.
Packed into a full (and sold out) Streets of Long Beach venue, Aasbo qualified seventh and faced fierce competition on his way to his first podium of 2023. He met Mike Power in the Top 16, then battled fellow three-time champion James Deane in the Top 8, who made his return after a three-year hiatus and is seen as a top competitor in the PRO class, piloting his new AutoZone Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-FD. Aasbo advanced past Deane to meet Matt Field in the Final Four, a battle deja-vu from last year’s dramatic Final Four matchup in Long Beach.
Initially it seemed like a simple call for Aasbo after Field spun out from the chase position after initiating into OZ1, but the new “decel” lights installed to the cars showed Aasbo had momentarily slowed to correct after rubbing against the wall. Formula DRIFT judges found Aasbo to be at fault with the red light visible on the livestream instant replay.
“It was on me, and I’m sorry for sending him into the wall,” Aasbo explained. “We still had a great weekend, made progress with the car, and I’m happy to be on the podium, even though I have a love-hate relationship with this track.”
Meanwhile, newcomer to Team ENEOS Odi Bakchis had a decent P8 qualifying spot for the Top 32, but struggled against Jonathan Hurst, who advanced to the Final Four and lost against the eventual second place winner Rome Charpentier.
“I felt strong about winning the first round but had some really tough luck in my Top 32 battle against my Feal teammate Jonathan Hurst,” Odi said. “He was on fire this round and I didn’t push hard enough. I can’t wait to charge harder in Atlanta!”
Team ENEOS heads to Road Atlanta for Round 2 of the 2023 Formula DRIFT series from May 11-13, a double-header PRO/PROSPEC event, that sees Aasbo, Bakchis and PROSPEC competitor Ben Hobson leap into action for the first time this season.