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Racing News: Formula Drift PRO Championships Are Decided; L. McMillin/Roeseler Win Baja 1000

By SEMA Editors

Fredric Aasbo (Norway) ,driving the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nitto Tire GR Supra, won Formula Drift PRO Round Seven at Irwindale Speedway.

Formula Drift PRO Championships Are Decided

After months of speculation about whether there would even be a 2020 Formula DRIFT season, the teams arrived at The House of Drift – Irwindale Speedway – for the traditional season finale. With eight PRO and four Link ECU PRO2 Championship rounds squeezed into a compressed calendar of double-header events, the TYPE S Title Fight Weekend would be the ultimate test of resilience and consistency. The high-speed course used for the previous two rounds at Texas Motor Speedway had exacted a heavy toll on minds and machinery, and Irwindale would provide no relief. With its high-speed banking and unforgiving walls, both metal and egos would be dented or demolished before the PRO and PRO2 Champions were crowned.

In the end, Vaughn Gittin Jr claimed the 2020 FD PRO Championship, Fredric Aasbo won FD PRO Round Seven, Aurimas Bakchis won FD PRO Round Eight, Dmitriy Brutskiy is the 2020 Link ECU PRO2 Champion, and Mike Power won FD PRO2 Round Four.

Round Seven

Whether it was the cumulative effect of an intense 2020 season, or because so many teams needed a good result for a shot at the Championship title, Round Seven of the Formula DRIFT PRO Championship at Irwindale Speedway – the TYPE S Title Fight Weekend – saw many of the contenders stumble. The overall effect would be to keep the Championship chase alive, with five drivers heading into the Final Round with a mathematical chance of glory.

The top drivers tumbled as early as the first heats, with both Justin Pawlak (USA) in the Roush Performance / Falken Tire Ford Mustang and Aurimas “Odi” Bakchis (Lithuania) in the Falken Tire / Feal Suspension Nissan S15 losing to lower seeded drivers in the Top 32. Pawlak was placed seventh and would fall to eighth, while Bakchis in sixth also dropped one position. This would be enough to remove them from the title chase.

Second-placed Ryan Tuerck (USA) reported engine problems after his Top 32 heat, triggering a frantic rush to swap powerplants in the Gumout / Nitto Tire / Mobil 1 Toyota Corolla. The Papadakis team achieved what seemed to be the impossible but Tuerck would hit the wall in Outside Zone 1 shortly after initiating during his Top 16 run. Raising his hand, Tuerck admitted the cooling track conditions had caught him out as the sun was setting. He would maintain his second place in the Championship standings but the points difference increased from eight to 40 points.

Third-placed Chris Forsberg (USA) advanced to the Top 16 courtesy of a bye round in the Top 32 heats. However, he’d go no further. Forsberg withdrew his NOS Energy Drink Nissan 370Z on Nexen Tires with engine problems and sought a fix for the Final Round. He would drop from third to fifth place in the Championship but retain a slim chance of claiming his fourth FD title with a 96-point gap to the lead.

Championship leader Vaughn Gittin Jr (USA) was a favorite for the 2020 title arriving in Irwindale. He manhandled his Monster Energy / Nitto Tire / Ford Performance Mustang RTR

Spec 5-D into the Top 4, but would spin out chasing nemesis Fredric Aasbo (Norway) driving the Rockstar Energy Drink / Nitto Tire GR Supra during an epic battle that went “One More Time.”

Relegated to the third-place run-off against teammate Chelsea DeNofa (USA) in the BC Racing / Nitto Tire Ford Mustang RTR, Gittin Jr hit the wall in Outside Zone 1, robbing the fans of another Mustang brawl and promoting DeNofa to third. But with his opponents falling around him, Gittin Jr looked ahead to the Final Round in first place with an extended points lead over Tuerck.

Knocking out Adam LZ (USA) in the Top 8 before moving on to Gittin Jr and then beating Michael Essa (USA) in the Final, Aasbo had rediscovered the form that took him to victory in the opening round. Driving the brand new Supra, the 2015 FD Champion followed up with a second place in Seattle but otherwise failed to fulfill the early promise. Arriving at Irwindale in fifth place, he leapfrogged to third after this Round Seven win but with a 60-point deficit to make up.

For Essa, it was a welcome return to form, backing up a third place in Seattle, but the 2013 FD Champion wasn’t playing on a level field in Irwindale. He mounted a valiant defense against Aasbo in the Final but his FCP Euro / LiquiMoly / Achilles Tires BMW M3 was badly wounded. Essa reported a coolant leak, failing head gasket, misfire and more, yet continued to drift with his signature precision. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the machinery to beat the Norwegian, but climbed to sixth overall.

With several titles to be decided in the Final Round, Nitto Tire clinched the 2020 Formula DRIFT Tire Cup in Round Seven thanks to an unbeatable points lead over its competitors.


Round Seven Top 16 Pro Driver Points

4Gittin Jr.64

Round Eight Top 16 Pro Driver Points


Final 2020 Pro Champsionship Driver Standings

1Vaughn Gittin Jr540Nitto
2Chelsea DeNofa500Nitto
3Ryan Tuerck484Nitto
4Fredric Aasbo448Nitto
5Chris Forsberg428Nexen

Final 2020 Auto Cup Standings

Ford: 1140Toyota: 980Nissan: 716BMW: 356Chevrolet: 352

Final 2020 Tire Cup Standings

Nitto: 1380Falken: 892Achilles: 820Nexen: 732GT Radial: 640

Link ECU Pro2 Championship Results From Round Four


Final 2020 Link ECU Pro2 Championship Standings

1Dmitriy Brutskiy260
2Jonathan Hurst252
3Joshua Love228
4Blake Olsen216
5Austin Matta216

L. McMillin/Roeseler Win BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 1000

BajaThe Bronco R Race Prototype, piloted by Cameron Steele, Shelby Hall and a team of veteran Ford off-road racers, finished the 53rd SCORE-International Baja 1000 in Class 2 in just over 32 hours.

Combining the enthusiasm and rare talent of youth with the experience and wisdom of a Hall of Famer, San Diego’s Luke McMillin joined forces with Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer Larry Roeseler, Boulevard, Calif. to etch their names afresh in the lasting legacy of the BFGoodrich Tires 53rd SCORE Baja 1000, presented by 4 Wheel Parts Sunday, capturing the overall and SCORE Trophy Truck victory in the iconic Granddaddy of All Desert Races.

The pair defeated a field of 185 starters as well as outlasting the viciously rugged 898.40-mile race course that was the longest in the history of SCORE long loop races.

This year’s epic BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 was held on an extremely rugged loop-race record 898.40-mile race course over the Northern part of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, starting and finishing on the outskirts of Ensenada. It was the finale of the two-race pandemic-abbreviated two-race 2020 SCORE World Desert Championship.

When the final checkered flag fell, a total of 185 vehicles left the starting line early Friday morning in the elapsed time race. When the course officially closed at 3:30:28 a.m. PT on Sunday there were 111 official finishers for a 60.00 finishing percentage on the extremely challenging course.The results were made official following complete data tracking review of the devices on each vehicle in the event early on Sunday.

Besides podium finishers L. McMillin/Roeseler, MacCachren/Daniel, Menzies/A. McMillin and the Ampudia brothers, six of 10 the top 10 overall four-wheel vehicles were SCORE Trophy Trucks. SCORE Trophy Truck is the marquee racing division in the sports for high-tech, 950-horsepower unlimited custom trucks. The class was created by Sal Fish, who owned SCORE for 38 years and created the ‘Monsters of the Desert’ in 1994.

Finishing fourth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Cameron Steele, 52, of San Clemente, Calif. (No. 16 Ford Raptor-Geiser), fifth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Las Vegas’ Tim Herbst (No. 19 Ford F-150-Herbst/Smith). Seventh overall and winning the Trophy Truck Spec class was Jeff Bader, 39, Ladera Ranch, Calif. (No. 261 Brenthel-Chevy), eighth was Tim Herbst’s son Pierce Herbst, 18, of Las Vegas (second in Trophy Truck Spec, No. 264 Herbst/Smith-Chevy). Ninth overall was Class 1 winner Cody Parkhouse, while 10th was Elijah Kiger, 20, of Kirby, Pa. (third in Trophy Truck Spec, No. 238 TSCO-Chevy).

The race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour special on the ABC TV Network’s World of X Games programming. First airing is set for Jan. 3, 2021 on ESPN2. It is being produced by SCORE in association with award-winning BCII TV of Los Angeles. Announcer was Hall of Fame racer Cameron Steele.


Top 20 Overall Trucks, Cars & UTVs

1. 83 Luke McMillin, 27, San Diego/Larry Roeseler, 63, Boulevard, Calif., Ford F-150 (Racer), 19:10:25 (46.86 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
2. 11 Rob MacCachren, 55, Las Vegas/Josh Daniel, Vista, Calif., Ford F-150 (Geiser), 19:21:30 (46.41 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
3. 7 Bryce Menzies, 33, Las Vegas/Andy McMillin, 33, San Diego, Calif., Ford Raptor (Mason), 19:42:40 (45.58 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
4. 16 Cameron Steele, 52, San Clemente, Calif./Bobby Pecoy, 55, Yorba Linda, Calif./Rene Brugger, San Diego, Ford Raptor (Geiser). 20:30:23(43.81 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
5. 19 Tim Herbst, 57, Las Vegas/Pat Dean, 51, Las Vegas, Ford F-150 (Herbst-Smith), 20:40:02 (43.47 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
6. 10 Alan Ampudia, 29, Ensenada, Mexico/Aaron Ampudia, 27, Ensenada, Mexico, Ford Raptor (ID), 20:53:46 (42.99 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
7. 261 Jeff Bader, 39, Ladera Ranch, Calif./Dan Fresh, 52, Dana Point, Calif., Brenthel-Chevy, 21:44:55 (41.31 mph) (Trophy Truck Spec)
8. 264 Pierce Herbst, 18, Las Vegas/Ryan Millen, 36, Huntington Beach, Calif. (New Zealand)/Thor Herbst, 20, Las Vegas, Herbst/Smith-Chevy, 22:00:30 (40.82 mph) (Trophy Truck Spec)
9. 127 Cody Parkhouse, 33, Long Beach, Calif./Brian Parkhouse, 60, Long Beach, Calif./Roger Starkey 36, Scottsdale, Ariz., Jimco-Chevy, 22:31:08 (39.90 mph) (Class 1) 10. 238 Elijah Kiger, 20, Kirby, Pa./Brock Heger, 20, El Centro, Calif./Sean Bogdan, 28, Kirby, Pa./Christopher King, 26, Kirby, Pa., TSCO-Chevy, 22:58:14 (39.11 mph) (Trophy Truck Spec)
11. 77 Robby Gordon, 51, Charlotte, N.C./Damen Jefferies, 47, Apple Valley, Calif., Chevy Silverado (Custom), 23:18:48 (38.54 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
12. 97 B.J. Baldwin, 41, Las Vegas/Ray Griffith, Toyota Tundra (ID), 23:41:09 (37.93 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
13. 295 William Hedrick Jr, 24, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico/William Hedrick, 54, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico, ID-Chevy, 23:45:36 (37.81mph) (Trophy Truck Spec)
14. 273 Jordan Brenthel, 33, Temecula, Calif./Jonathan Brenthel, 41, La Cresta, Calif./Chuck Dempsie, 52, Oak Hills, Calif./Greg Adler, 51, Temecula, Calif., Brenthel-Chevy, 23:45:47 (37.81 mph) (Trophy Truck Spec)
15. 89 Mike Walser, 53, Comfort, Texas/Luke Johnson, 27, Sun City, Calif./Rod Walser, 44, Canadian, Texas, Chevy Silverado (Mason), 23:53:47 (37.60 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
16. 1085 Jeremy Davis, 20, Chino Hills, Calif./Justin Davis, 27, Chino Hills, Calif./Tyler Peterson, 30, Apple Valley, Calif., Jimco-Chevy, 24:16:11 (37.02 mph) (Class 10) 17. 40 Chris Miller, 46, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif./Christian Sourapas, 24, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., Chevy Silverado (Mason), 24:23:59 (36.82 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
18. 103 Gabriel Torres, 27, San Luis Potosi, Mexico/Esteban Cruz, Ensenada, Mexico/J. David Ruvalcaba, 47, Ensenada, Mexico, Alumi Craft-Chevy, 24:24:12 (36.81 mph) (Class 1)
19. 1022 Rafael Aguirre, 41, Monterrey, Mexico/Adrian Saucedo, 28, Monterrey, Mexico/Cesar Fiscal, 35, Monterrey, Mexico, Jefferies-Chevy, 24:31:39 (36.63 mph) (Class 10)
20. 4419 Paul Horschel, 44, Park City, Utah/Loren Healy/Mitchell Sweatt/Zig DeGroot/Josh Markham, Custom-Chevy, 24:44:00 (36.32 mph) (Hammer Truck Unlimited)