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2

Formula Drift

Formula Drift Heads to Orlando for Round 2

Pre-Race_2017_04_27_Hero.jpgFormula Drift Heads to Orlando for Round 2
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After opening the Formula Drift season on the Streets of Long Beach, California, Toyota’s drivers will now compete in Florida for ‘Round 2: Uncharted Territory’ at Orlando Speed World, where the manufacturer will look for a third-straight triumph after Scion wins in 2015 and 2016.

Frecric Aasbø is the defending winner in Orlando after claiming Formula D’s Round 3 win at Orlando Speed World in 2016, while Ryan Tuerck claimed an Orlando win in his Scion in 2015.

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Tuerck led the way for the Toyota contingent in the season-opening event in Long Beach in early April with a third-place result in his Toyota 86. Aasbø finished fifth in the season opener, marking the first race for Papadakis Racing’s new Corolla iM, while Ken Gushi took 11th in an 86.

Jhonnattan Castro finished 17th in Formula D’s first Pro event of the year, and then claimed fourth the next weekend with his Toyota 86 in Formula D’s invitational Motegi Super Drift Challenge on the same Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach street circuit.

With the Toyota drivers’ performances in Formula D’s opening round in Long Beach, the manufacturer leads the series’ Auto Manufacturer Cup standings entering the second event of the season. Leading into the event, the Toyota drivers talked about their Long Beach performances and the build up to Orlando race on Friday-Saturday, April 28-29:

Ryan Tuerck, driver of the No. 411 Toyota 86 for Nameless Performance

Rank: 3rd

Points: 69 pts

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Are you looking forward to Orlando and what are your expectations for the event?

“I'm pumped for Orlando. We are hoping to carry our momentum from Long Beach to the top of the podium.”

How is the Orlando event unique compared to other events and what do you recall from your 2015 victory?

“Orlando is unique because it has the quickest weather changing environment. It could go from being the hottest event of the year to a monsoon and back to dry again. During my 2015 victory, it had rained the entire day of main competition. I usually do well in the rain regardless, but we had a lot of help from cars catching on fire and breaking during that event.”

Since it seems like you’re always working on something, what have you been up to since Long Beach? Any side builds right now?

“Yeah, I have had two weeks at home and been in the garage the entire time *laughs*. I'm currently prepping one of my cars for some local events up here in the Northeast. Should be able to finish it just before I catch my flight to Orlando.”

Frederic Aasbø, driver of the No. 151 Toyota Corolla iM for Papadakis Racing

Rank: 5th

Points: 52 pts

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Are you looking forward to Orlando and what are your expectations for the event?

“I am definitely looking forward to Orlando. Even though we won this round last year, I expect this year's event will be tough. From the grandstands, the banked course looks almost easy – with just two turns – but as a driver, I can tell you there's a lot more to it. From the chase position, it's really hard to see through the smoke and there are two solid bumps that really upset the cars.”

Did the Toyota Corolla iM’s perform to your expectations in its debut at Long Beach? You mentioned the iM feels more nimble and snappy than your previous tC – how will that benefit you?

“The car itself performed really well at its Long Beach debut. Even though it is similar in some ways to last year's car, it's still a brand new race car and for us to qualify in fourth place and land a fifth-place finish is an achievement for the team to be proud of. We know we can win with this car.

“Compared to the tC, everything feels tighter and built around me as the driver more in the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla iM. Little details like seating position, steering column angle and brake bias feel more refined, which makes a difference when things have to really happen fast. In terms of the car's feel, it definitely feels more ‘playful’ in the sense that it snaps to angle quicker and it's like it wants to be driven with a lot of angle – and I consider that a good thing.”

What did you think of Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend? What other types of racing do you enjoy watching?

“The Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge is a fun event that gives a taste of drifting to fans on the Long Beach weekend. That's what's so great about the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix as a whole – you get to see just about any type of racing you want in one place. I especially enjoyed getting the chance to see the Lexus RC F GT3 cars out on track and I have to say that car is one of the most beautiful creations on four wheels.”

Ken Gushi, driver of the No. 21 Toyota 86 for GReddy Racing

Rank: 11th

Points: 35 pts

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Are you looking forward to Orlando and what are your expectations for the event?

“Yes, looking forward to seeing how some of our changes come in handy. We had a somewhat disastrous Round 1 a couple of weeks ago, so Round 2 in Orlando will be the grudge match round for us. I expect to see some battle scars – which were lacking after Long Beach – and missing body panels. With that said, I also expect us to be standing on the podium.”

How did your relationship with Toyota begin and what are some of the coolest things you’ve done in your career as a Toyota driver?

“I joined the Scion Racing team back in 2008 with the first ever RWD-converted Scion tC. Back then, I was 21 years old and still learning the secrets of the trade. With this relationship I built over the years thanks to the Toyota and Scion staff, I’ve had some amazing times. One great memory I can recall is racing up the infamous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with Lexus Racing and their Lexus IS-F CCS-R they shipped over from Japan. We placed second in class in 2012 and went back the following year in 2013 and won our class! I also went back to Pikes Peak with Scion Racing and GReddy Performance in 2014 and we placed third with our 2013 Spec Drift FR-S. One of my biggest accomplishments with Scion Racing was in 2015 when both my team member, Fredric Aasbø and I won the manufacturer’s championship and the driver’s championship in Formula Drift coming in first and second. I’ve also had the chance to work with the Toyota brand launching awesome cars like the 2016 Camry and doing amazing demos with the TSS Toyota Safety Sense package. This includes driving a 2016 Camry towards a barrier at 90 mph and taking evasive action by literally drifting the car as soon as PCS alarmed me.”

What have you been up to since Long Beach? Looks like you did some testing recently.
“Yes, we have been testing a lot since Long Beach. My goal is to win and nothing will stop me from learning the sport and improving. We have been testing some suspension and alignment changes, as well as our new transmission. We converted from a 4-speed H-pattern dog box to a 5-speed sequential dog box. We are more than ready to attack our competition come Orlando.”

Jhonnattan Castro, driver of the No. 717 Toyota 86 for JCastro Racing

Rank: 17th

Points: 18 pts

Are you looking forward to Orlando and what are your expectations for the event?

“I’m so pumped about Orlando. Last year was a good round for us for so many reasons. I like the track, the people, the vibe, the heat – some people might say that I feel at home – plus it was our best result finishing top six last season with my 86 – aka La Torquito.”

How was finishing fourth in the Super Drift Challenge at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach?  How did this event, and competing two weekends in a row benefit you?

“Finishing in top four in the Super Drift Challenge at the Toyota Grand Prix was an amazing feeling. It was a very, very important result for our team because we have been working so hard to get there – not only for the car setup, but its more my driving connection with the 86 – La Torquito – the team and myself. Getting out and pushed beyond my limits at this special track that has no room for error is something that I personally was chasing for a long time and this for sure is going to benefit us a lot for the rest of the season.”

“Driving two weekends in a row is great – the more we are out there driving and competing the better. Coming out a second weekend with a fresh data is great because you just apply all the adjustments on the car, the driving and go for it. I wish that we can do that in all the rounds *laughs*.”

With a Toyota 86 prepared as a customer car from Papadakis Racing, do you feel you have the resources to improve and contend for podiums this year?

“Working with Papadakis Racing has been a dream come true. I have been watching Papadakis Racing since the days of Tanner (Foust) and when I got to know them better, I always wanted to work with them, but the time was not right. Now, I’ve got this amazing opportunity and pleasure to work with them and one word can’t describe how amazing they are. They work really hard with passion, love and care for the cars. Each of one of the Papadakis Racing members have that common factor, plus they are extremely professional, which I’ve been learning a lot since the first day I got to work with them.

As for the tools, I more think they have been working with me as an individual person and driver that has different needs and style. They not only built the ultimate Toyota 86 drift machine that can go fast and be at the top, they are also giving me the tools as a driver to make honor of the quote, ‘gradual progression,’ to make it to the top and win.”

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