Three-time Formula Drift champion Chris Forsberg finally returned to the top step of the podium at Orlando SpeedWorld two weeks ago, as he took his first victory since Long Beach in 2014 by taking down points leader Fredric Aasbo in the semis and defeating last year’s champion, James Deane, in the final. Three years after catching fire in the Orlando semifinals against Ken Gushi and being unable to grid for the final battle against Ryan Tuerck, longtime FD fans can likely concede that there was no better place for the winless streak to end.
Today the series returns to one of its seminal venues, as Road Atlanta plays host to the Road to the Championship. Justin Pawlak and Daijiro Yoshihara posted the top two qualifying runs, with Aasbo and Deane third and fourth and Forsberg a respectable seventh. As we get ready for one of the pivotal rounds of this year’s championship, we take a look at some of today’s top storylines:
Will we ever truly get the James Deane/Forrest Wang battle we want?
The biggest tease of the season so far—and it’s not even close—has been the two disappointing results in the scheduled battles between Deane and Wang. At Long Beach, Deane couldn’t make it to the line at all, while in Orlando, Wang made contact with the wall in his lead run. All the Nissan owners want to see is a quality battle between the Worthouse Drift Team and Get Nuts Lab builds, but how many more times will we see them face off over the course of the 2018 season?
Whose multi-year winless streak will be the next to fall?
Forsberg’s ninth career FD win, tying him for second-most all-time, came four full seasons after his eighth. That’s got to be a positive and encouraging development for the many popular drivers in the field who are regular podium threats, but haven’t won in quite a while. There are tons of drivers in this category, but to name just a few: Gushi (last win: Houston 2005), Yoshihara (Long Beach 2013), Michael Essa (Texas 2013), Tuerck (Orlando 2015), and Vaughn Gittin Jr. (Wall 2016).
Is 2018 already a three-driver race for the championship?
Right now, Aasbo ranks first in the championship with 196 points, with Deane second at 176 and Forsberg third at 175. There’s a close battle for fourth brewing, as Piotr Wiecek’s 143 points are only four clear of Wang and five up on Tuerck, but some of the sport’s biggest names have already established a solid advantage on the rest of the field just two races in. With how short the FD schedule is, the most crucial names in this year’s title fight just may have already identified themselves.