2023 Formula Drift St. Louis, Rd. 5: Odi Bakchis Wins and Fredric Aasbo Takes Championship Points Lead
The weather was hot in St. Louis, Missouri for this year’s the Formula Drift Pro and Pro 2 round 5 weekend. The track is just on the other side of the Mississippi River in Illinois with a great view of downtown St. Louis in the distance of the grandstands. Last year this venue was filled with cars crashing and controversy, but Formula Drift changed the track this season with some additional paved areas to help create a different challenge for the drivers and allowing for a bit more speed through the track this season.
Kazyua Tagauchi qualified first again this year after putting together a perfect event last season by qualifying first and finishing first. Nick Noback qualified second and Dean Kearney in his Dodge Viper qualified third for the event.
Feeling the Heat in Top 32
Ryan Tuerck suffered a ton of engine problems coming into Top 32, but the team got it all back together in time to battle Ola Jaeger. Ryan Tuerck in the chase battle smacked into Ola and broke his Corolla as he crossed the finish line. The judges claimed Ola Jaeger slowed up before the finish line and placed him at fault for the accident giving Ryan Tuerck the win.
Chelsea DeNofa made his return to competition in St. Louis with a battle against Joao Barion in his Corvette. Joao had a mechanical issue in his chase run giving Chelsea DeNofa an easy advance into the Top 16.
Adam LZ faced off against Matt Field in a close battle, but one mistake in the tandem battle was made by Adam LZ dropping a tire in turn one on his lead giving Matt Field the victory as he made no errors in his lead run.
Fredric Aasbo dominated the young driver Alec Robbins as he bailed off course his in his Nissan 350z trying to keep up with the Toyota Supra and Aasbo moved on to the next round. James Deane brought out the third Mustang RTR car for battle in the Top 32 and had a close battle with Robert Throne that wound up being called One More Time by the judges. The One More Time battle saw Robert Thorne take home an upset victory against three-time Champion James Deane to finish off Top 32.
Changing Conditions for Top 16
It rained and the sun went down during the top 16, which meant site runs and conditions that were different from earlier in the day. Chelsea DeNofa faced off against Dylan Hughes in these new track conditions as it rained during the break, and then the day transitioned into night. Chelsea DeNofa had an insane chase run and got stuck as Dylan Hughes stalled his BMW and they collided. The other part of the battle was great as Dylan Hughes tapped Chelsea crossing the finish line, but it was an easy victory for Chelsea DeNofa on this one.
Ryan Tuerck and Ken Gushi both had broken cars and couldn’t make it to the start line. To advance into the Great 8, one of them would be required to do a bye run to show their car could advance. Neither driver could do this so both drivers are considered to have “lost” in the Top 16 which will give a driver in the Great 8 a bye run. Odi Bakchis took out Matt Field after a One More Time battle which really shook up the Formula Drift Championship points for the 2023 season.
Fredric Aasbo performed so good in his Toyota GR Supra with his grippy Nitto NT555 G2 tires so he could keep up with and defeat the young upcoming star driver Robert Thorne. Fredric Aasbo got the win as Throne pushed too hard in his BMW and spun on the rumble strip just before the finish line.
Big Showdowns in the Great 8
Chris Forsberg kicked this one off against Chelsea DeNofa and DeNofa punted Chris Forsberg a good 80 feet off course into a chain link fence at outer zone four. It was an awkward place for car contact, but Chris Forsberg wasn’t given a chance to rotate and transition as DeNofa hit him right in the rear bumper. Chris Forsberg was so far off course he got stuck in the mud after crashing through a chain link fence and had to be towed out of that area to continue. Chelsea DeNofa then got to lead the second lap, but he pushed too hard and looped it, landing him with a double incomplete on the battle and Chris Forsberg the victory.
Fredric Aasbo took on Jonathan Hurst and looked unbeatable in his Toyota Supra for the night. Hurst had an issue with his tire coming off in the chase run and was unable to change his tire for the second run due to the regulations giving Fredric Aasbo an advance into the Final Four.
Fresh Faces in the Final Four
The start of the final four was a bit crazy. Odi Bakchis lead against Chris Forsberg and they hit before the end of turn one. Forsberg was originally judged to be at fault for the incident, but this changed with a protest from Chris Forsberg. Given new info, the judges agreed with the protest, and they were set to redo the entire battle again. This time the tandem runs were clean, and all the judges give the victory again to Odi Bakchis.
The other side of the bracket was Simen Olsen and Fredric Aasbo in an amazing all Norwegian battle. No judge agreed on this battle as one called Simen, one Aasbo, and the last One More Time. A rare instance where every judge made a different call. The first One More Time battle resulted in another One More Time to determine who would go to the finals. All three judges finally give Fredric Aasbo the victory after Aasbo really dialed in his lead run on this third try at beating Simen Olsen. Fredric Aasbo also took the 2023 Formula Drift Championship points lead by winning this battle.
Finally, A Final Battle!
These two guys had a long hard-fought event which led into a final battle pushing the main event past the four-hour mark! This battle was a tight one between the two legendary drivers in Formula Drift. Fredric Aasbo couldn’t quite perfect his lead run, which gave Odi Bakchis the opportunity for the win at Formula Drift St. Louis.
Odi Bakchis now has 10 Formula Drift career victories, and he moves into third place for all time Formula Drift victories where he is tied with Chris Forsberg. Odi Bakchis went winless through the 2022 Formula Drift season but managed to win three events in the 2021 Formula Drift season.
This victory puts Odi Bakchis in a great place to take a shot at his first Formula Drift Championship as well. Fredric Aasbo now leads the series with 303 points after five rounds. Matt Field finds himself in second place with 288 points and Odi Bakchis locks in third place with 273 points —just 30 points behind the new leader Fredric Aasbo.