Chelsea DeNofa's Perfect Event at 2021 Formula Drift at Orlando Speed World
A quick two-week break is all the Formula Drift series needed to recover from Road Atlanta and travel six hours south to fill the grandstands at Orlando Speed World for Round 2 of the 2021 Formula Drift season. A sellout crowd in Central Florida witnessed one of the most action packed and dramatic Formula Drift weekends in recent history.
Chelsea DeNofa dominated the whole race weekend, but it started with qualifying. His first run around the oval track gave him a 94 that looked really great and secured him the number one qualifying spot. Qualifying stacked the left side of the Top 32 bracket with some of the best drivers for this race weekend, which set the stage for an insane Saturday race day.
Typical Top 32
The Top 32 didn’t feature many great upsets but saw most of the typical names advance into the Top 16. Chris Forsberg barely knocked out former champion Dai Yoshihara after an OMT battle. Adam LZ fell short at his home racetrack after chasing Kazuya Taguchi closely and making contact with him on the bank resulting in Adam LZ crashing his S15 Silvia.
Car Crashes and Fire into the Top 16
The Top 16 is where things got really heated on the racetrack. Vaughn Gittin Jr. vs. Chris Forsberg always tends to deliver entertainment and this year they didn’t disappoint. Vaughn GIttin’s titanium exhaust smacked the pavement on the transition and the sparks flew across Chris Forsberg’s 370z and set the back of his whole car up in flames. Chris Forsberg was also blind in the smoke from Vaughn and ended up spinning out not knowing where he was on track with the rear on fire. Vaughn took the victory and advanced into the Great 8 to face his teammate Chelsea DeNofa.
Ryan Tuerck then tagged Dean Kearney on the entry of the bank and crashed his Toyota Corolla into the wall putting an early end to his race weekend as well. Fredric Aasbo got redemption against Jeff Jones this round by destroying Jeff Jones in his 350z in two easy battles to move into the Great 8 as well.
The Greatest 8
Chelsea DeNofa meets his team principal Vaughn Gittin Jr. to start off this round of the Formula Drift event. These two drivers were hammered down full throttle with their Nitto NT555 G2 tires in one of the best battles of the 2021 season by far! Chelsea DeNofa likely performed the most perfect and stunning chase tandem run in the last 10 years of Formula Drift history. Once the smoke settled on this one it was really easy for the judges to award Chelsea DeNofa the winner. The Great 8 really started showing some attrition as Dean Kearney could not keep drift with a vehicle malfunction and was towed off the course.
Odi Bakchis then pushed Matt Field with some solid tandem driving to advance into the Final Four. That win secured his Championship ranking of first place after this round came to an end since Matt Field could have passed him by advancing onward. Matt Field who ends the event in second place overall just 22 points behind Odi Bakchis as we look to Englishtown in a few weeks.
Fredric Aasbo finishes up the Great 8 with an easy win against Kazuya Taguchi as his engine catches on fire on the last turn of the lap and has to pull off course giving Aasbo an easy victory.
Final Four Features the Drivers Who Qualified 1 to 4
Quite a rare event that the drivers who qualified yesterday from first to fourth are the final four drivers left competing at an event. Perhaps this shows some serious value to the new knockout qualifying Formula Drift implemented this year that we reviewed in the Round 1 Road Atlanta piece.
Chelsea DeNofa really manages to gap Odi Bakchis on the first battle of the Final Four setting him up to have one last battle to move into the final round. Odi Bakchis had a weird lead run on the bank and then DeNofa managed to push Odi across the finish line literally showing his dominance in the battle. Chelsea DeNofa gets the victory and advances to the finals while defeating the current Formula Drift Championship points leader. Since Odi Bakchis qualified fourth, his loss against DeNofa guaranteed he would not have a podium finish in Orlando.
Fredric Aasbo really turned it up against Justin Palwak but after these guys duked it out in a wild battle the judges could only pick OMT. Fredric Aasbo went to the pits and slapped on some fresh Nitto NT555 G2 tires and got back to the track. At the start of the One More Time battle, Justin Pawlak hammered down at the start line and dumped his entire engine and oil around the full racetrack before the motor finally gave out after the finish line. It was quite incredible to watch Justin Pawlak blow his Mustang engine at the start line and run the entire course as his engine fell apart. His loss still secured him a podium as he closed out Orlando in third place.
The final battle pitted Chelsea DeNofa against Fredric Aasbo in one amazing battle. Chelsea DeNofa couldn’t be stopped with an amazing chase run pushing Aasbo across the finish line just like some other drivers in the past over the weekend. It was incredible that Chelsea DeNofa was able to tandem with that little margin for error and never make a mistake! Fredric Aasbo pushed his Toyota Supra to the limits, but it couldn’t quite hang with the BC Racing Ford Mustang RTR Spec 5-D on this night at the racetrack. Chelsea DeNofa secured his fourth career Formula Drift victory and now sits just third in the Championship race by just 28 points.
2021 Championship Standings and Points After Round 2, FDORL
- Odi Bakchis 180
- Matt Field 158
- Chelsea DeNofa 152
- Justin Pawlak 147
- Vaughn Gittin Jr. 147