2017 Formula Drift Driver Changes: What to Expect

Greetings fellow tire shredding enthusiasts, I would like to go over some big key changes for the upcoming Long Beach event and the following 2017 season.

DeNofa Moves to RTR

One of the biggest stories coming out of 2016 is underdog Chelsea DeNofa. The surprise winner of the 2016 Long Beach event is ditching his BMW for an RTR Mustang and joining Vaughn Gittin Jr. on an adventure to find the limitations of these Ford Racing, big budget, three-wheeling Mustangs.

Last season, despite starting out with a bang, put Chelsea in what seemed to be an uphill battle. The BMW, retaining a BMW 3.0L straight 6 won the hearts of many for the sheer bravery of running the unproven powertrain, but hit a brick wall.

Last season Chelsea could be seen sporting a loaned, underpowered S14 and even being slapped with a technical violation for using a type of tire bead sealer during an event. Chelsea’s driving career seemed to need a big change, and he found it. But will the change alienate the few purists he attracted running the daring BMW setup or will his new RTR find him fame and fortune?

Can Foresberg Repeat?

Chris “the Force” Foresberg’s constancy is something you need to see for yourself. Most events, Foresberg clears qualifying with ease and reaches the podium often. He pulled in the 2016 championship, but just barely, due to some close competition in Irwindale with Aasbo and Gittin at his heels.

The driver is looking down the barrel of a serious drivetrain change. Previously running a Nissan V8 on nitrous, he has switched to a Nissan twin turbo VQ engine throwing up a big 1200HP with anti-lag that will give Ryan Tuerck’s 2JZ swapped FRS a run for its money. The VQ engine choice would be going against the grain of drivetrains floating around the competition currently.

I’m always interested to see how a driver responds to any type of chassis or large powertrain change. Many of these chassis changes seem to happen shortly before a seasons starts, limiting seat time. Hopefully the change will bring positive results in 2017 and not adverse effects from the novelty quality VQ engine choice.

Aasbo Gets a Chassis Change

Fredrick Aasbo, who placed 2nd last year and was champion in 2015, is also facing huge changes. The recent discontinuation of Scion has prompted Toyota to shove Fredrick in a new chassis. Although the new Toyota retains a lot of the same subframes and suspension geometry, Aasbo faces cockpit orientation and wheelbase changes. With a driver that has had one main chassis for such a long period of time, the change will prove interesting to watch as the season unfolds. Fredrick has been getting a leg up on the chassis change, though. The driver’s off season was chock full of drifting events nationwide. These events put Fredrick behind the seat of many different cars, possibly making his transition seamless.

An Exciting Season Awaits

The 2017 Season will bring many changes for drivers. Some of the top names, right down to the reigning champion are making drastic changes in an already consistent and competitive chassis. This could bring a victories for some and could bring the fall of others, opening up podiums for newer drivers and teams to climb to the top.

Do not forget to catch the live stream of the opening Long Beach event on March 31st.

Written by Nick Iosua.

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