The hot new Formula DRIFT racing series is still blazing with round four of the Pro Championship debuting at the refreshed Lake Erie Speedway in North East, PA. American Chelsea DeNofa won after pressuring the overall points leader Matt Field in the No. 777 Chevrolet Corvette to over-correct through the sweeping Outside Zone 2 turn, leading to an unfortunate off-track excursion.
DeNofa—in the BC Racing/Nitto Tire/Ford Mustang—was able to mount the top spot on the podium after the overall race leader, Norwegian Fredric Aasbo in the Rockstar Energy Drink Toyota GR Supra, was disqualified when failing to fix a broken rear suspension in the allotted time out for repairs.
DeNofa’s teammate Vaughn Gittin Jr., in the Monster Energy Ford Mustang, previously lost to Aasbo, driving the Rockstar Energy Drink Toyota GR Supra, after over-rotating in Outside Zone 3, droning the second semi-final, which forced him to lift and straighten, ending his drift. DeNofa, as the first driver to win two rounds this year, shot up from fourth in the Formula DRIFT Pro Championship rankings to second behind Field, who now has a narrow 19-point lead.
“I’d actually been here about 13 years ago, so it was cool to see the track layout from behind the wheel of an insanely well set-up car,“ DeNofa said after the podium ceremony. “I didn’t know what to expect but the fans were amazing, packed in, tuned-in to everything—they were pumped to have us here and we were pumped to be at the track.”
Round 5 Up Next
With Aasbo finishing second, he held onto third place in the FD PRO Championship, while Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis (Lithuania) in the Falken Tire/Feal Suspension Nissan S15 dropped to fourth. Top rookie finisher was Josh Reynolds (USA) who put his Drift Force/Nexen Tire F22 Eurofighter BMW into 19th place.
Jim Liaw, Formula DRIFT president, said after the race that, “We’re very happy to have added this amazing facility in the Great Lakes area to the 2021 Formula DRIFT schedule. The crowd came from across the Mid-West and Eastern Seaboard, and we’re hoping to see Canadian visitors once the borders open up. We’ve built a great foundation here for years to come in terms of the close competition we can expect and engagement with the fans. I really hope they enjoyed the inaugural Formula DRIFT event at Lake Erie Speedway—it certainly looked as if they did—and we have tremendous opportunities to grow from here.”
The New Course
The 3/8-mile oval Lake Erie Speedway is popular with local drift racers, but was totally new to the majority of Formula DRIFT Pro drivers. To ensure high-speed action, Formula DRIFT created a new course layout for the teams, providing three sweeping Outside Zones that rewarded smoothness while allowing the spectators to enjoy the close proximity of the cars during the tandem competition runs.
“I really hope they enjoyed the inaugural Formula DRIFT event at Lake Erie Speedway—it certainly looked as if they did—and we have tremendous opportunities to grow from here,” Liaw added. “We’ll evaluate how everything went and see how we can make the 2022 event even stronger!”