Orlando Speed World took over as the Florida host for the Formula Drift Black Magic Championship in the 2015 season, and since then has found a home as one of the series’ most important early-season events. Ryan Tuerck won the inaugural visit to Orlando, while Streets of Long Beach winner Fredric Aasbo enters this weekend’s Scorched having won the past two events here.
With Friday afternoon’s qualifying session in the books (see the full bracket below), today’s action kicks off at 11AM ET with the first round of eliminations and resumes at 3:30PM ET with the top 16 drivers. Here are some of the things we’ll be watching for as the 2018 championship continues:
Can Fredric Aasbo go back-to-back in Orlando?
While we’re asking specifically about back-to-back wins to start the 2018 season, Aasbo has already gone back-to-back in Orlando. The Norwegian won this round in each of the previous two years, taking down Kristaps Bluss in 2016 and Michael Essa last year. Aasbo’s Long Beach victory was the 11th of his Formula Drift career, extending the all-time series record, and asserting himself and the Papadakis Racing Toyota Corolla as what just might be the dominant force of this year’s championship.
Is Forrest Wang this year’s dark horse championship contender?
After skipping the 2017 season, Wang decided to return to the championship in 2018, and made the sport better for it as he challenged Aasbo for the victory in Long Beach. The Hawaiian hung tough in the final, forcing the judges to ask for one more run between the two drivers, and will be aiming to do one spot better in Orlando. Perhaps this weekend we’ll even get the battle between Wang and James Deane’s S15s that everybody wanted in Long Beach, but missed out on due to Deane’s damaged car.
Which big name has the best chance at returning to the podium this weekend?
Neither Vaughn Gittin Jr. nor Ken Gushi has taken a podium since 2016. Ryan Tuerck hasn’t won since the first-ever Orlando event in 2015. Chris Forsberg plummeted to 11th in points last year. All could use a final round appearance badly, but Daijiro Yoshihara might be the one to watch above all. He finished third in Orlando last year, one of his two podiums last season, and would love nothing more than to end a five-year winless drought this weekend in his Subaru BRZ.