Team ENEOS Takes Formula DRIFT PRO and PROSPEC Podiums in Atlanta
The iconic Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta has played a vital role in Formula DRIFT’s 20-year history, hosting the first round of the inaugural series back in 2004. Team ENEOS arrived at the track in full force, with defending champion Fredric Aasbo and Odi Bakchis competing in the PRO championship, while Ben Hobson and Faruk Kugay kicked off the first PROSPEC round of the season.
After a stellar Long Beach round that saw Aasbo claim third place on the podium, the Norwegian Hammer was eager to continue his winning streak at the wheel of the ENEOS-lubricated Rockstar Energy GR Toyota Supra. One of his favorite tracks of the FD season, the elevation changes of the Road Atlanta course require aggression and finesse, two skills Aasbo excels at.
After qualifying seventh, he advanced past Rome Charpentier in the Top 32 before meeting fellow three-time FD Champion, James Deane in the Autozone Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-FD. It was a battle the passionate Atlanta fans were excited to witness. And it didn’t disappoint, despite neither driver finding the right balance, and while fans cheered for One More Time (OMT), the split decision went to Deane.
“Despite going hard in Atlanta, it wasn’t our weekend,” Aasbo said. “Getting knocked out in the Top 16 was tough, but these are the moments when you learn the most.”
Meanwhile, the seasoned veteran, long overdue a championship, Odi Bakchis came out strong from the start for Team ENEOS after qualifying third in the Feal Suspension / GT Radial Nissan S15. He performed brilliantly from the Top 32 all the way to the Final 4, advancing past a fiercely competitive field consisting of Nick Noback, Chelsea DeNofa and Dylan Hughes. Bakchis was eventually taken down by Vaughn Gittin Jr — the eventual winner of the event — but third place was a stellar finish for Odi, rewarding him with valuable championship points.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be in third place for Round 2 at Road Atlanta!” Bakchis exclaimed. “The team put in a lot of hard work, and even Ben Hobson took a PROSPEC podium. We’re smashing to the limit with ENEOS lubricants!”
The Road Atlanta round saw the kickoff event for the FD PROSPEC championship, and Team ENEOS was eager to see Ben Hobson in action, along with the return of Faruk Kugay to FD competition.
After taking a year to focus on building a show-stopping Subaru STI-powered Porsche GT3, Kugay decided to rejoin Formula DRIFT as a PROSPEC competitor, which allows time during his busy schedule to continue building his next extreme project for the SEMA Show later this fall. Utilizing the same PRO competition car, now detuned, it’s been brought back to life as the ENEOS / Pedal Commander Nissan S14, powered with a 900hp 2JZ engine.
Qualifying in a solid eighth position for the Top 32, Kugay advanced past Joshua Love to face Austin Matta in the Top 16 battle. With both drivers piloting equally powered S-chassis vehicles, Kugay swung wide in Outer Zone 1 during his lead run while Matta kept a cleaner line. Faruk’s chase was decent but the damage was already done, giving Matta the heat win.
“Rejoining Formula DRIFT after starting a family and opening DEVSPEED has been an incredible experience,” Kugay said. “I’m having more fun behind the wheel than ever before, especially with this new perspective on life that I didn’t know I needed, which translated into my driving. Although I finished ninth overall, the foundation for success feels stronger than ever.”
Road Atlanta was an explosive kick-off for Ben Hobson, one third of Team Feal and a leading contender for the PROSPEC championship, competing in his third season in the Pedal Commander / Feal Suspension / Koruworks / Motegi Racing Nissan S14. He qualified first with an 89-point run, highlighting the potential of his S-chassis.
Like team captain Bakchis, Hobson skillfully took down his competitors from the Top 32 down to the final battle against Rudy Hansen in the Track Tires / Mast Motor / J&A Racing Oil Nissan 240SX S13. Both were on top form, forcing the judges to request OMT. And although their first two runs showed similar commitment, both drivers also made a number of mistakes. The repeated runs were nearly identical as both drivers performed well in the lead and chase positions. And with little to separate them, a split decision favored Hansen for the win.
“It was a great weekend for the first time out in this car, taking first in qualifying and a second place finish,” said Hobson. “ENEOS kept the car lubricated the entire time, not a single hiccup from the car!”
Following Road Atlanta, Fredric Aasbo is second overall in the PRO championship with 108 points, while Odi Bakchis is eighth on 93 points. Ben Hobson is second overall in the PROSPEC championship with 91 points, while Faruk Kugay is ninth with 32 points.
Team ENEOS heads to Orlando Speed World with Aasbo and Bakchis for Round 3 of the Formula DRIFT PRO championship on May 26-27, 2023.