You could not have scripted a more dramatic end to the 2014 Formula D Championship. From Round 4 of the chase, at Wall Speedway back in June, fans knew 2009 champ Chris Forsberg was on a tear in the Hankook Tire Nissan 370Z to score as many points as humanly possible towards a second title, having nabbed four straight podium finishes by that point. But we also knew if anyone was going to give Forsberg a challenge, it would probably be Fredric Aasbo, driver of the Hankook Scion Racing tC; after Round 4, he had half as many 2014 podiums but two critical victories over Forsberg at Road Atlanta for Round 2 and again at Wall.
So after Rounds 5 and 6, where Forsberg picked up a fifth straight podium but Aasbo another victory, plus a third win against the 2009 champ, the season finale at Irwindale Events Center - the renowned House of Drift - provided the setting for the climax. In one corner, Forsberg with a points lead in the standings of just 26, and in the other, Aasbo, the only driver with any possibility of catching him.
As we noted in our Qualifying post, Forsberg and Aasbo found themselves on the same side of the tandem eliminations bracket, which meant the possibility existed the two could face off in the Final 4. That possibility came to fruition, after Forsberg got the bye against Geoff Stoneback in the broken GSR S14 and then dispatched 2010 series champ Vaughn Gittin, Jr. in the Monster Energy Nitto Ford Mustang RTR and Matt Field in the CX Racing Nitto S14, and Aasbo defeated Marc Landreville's S14, Mats Baribeau in the Gold in the Net Toyota Mark II and 2011 champ Dai Yoshihara in the Discount Tire Falken Subaru BRZ.
As he had done three times earlier in the year, Aasbo beat Forsberg. But to seal the deal and win the 2014 title he'd have to win one more match, in this case the night's final - against Daigo Saito in the Achilles Tire Lexus SC430. Saito has had his ups and downs since his series championship in 2012, but he also had not lost at Irwindale since that year.
And Saito wouldn't lose in 2014, as well. Aasbo fought valiantly but couldn't close the proximity gap in his chase like Saito could. The Japanese driver picked up his third straight Irwindale W, Aasbo second place, and Forsberg emerged 2014 Formula D Champion, becoming only the third driver in series history to secure two championships (Sam Hubinette won in 2004 and '06, while Tanner Foust picked up titles in '07 and '08). Number one qualifier Forrest Wang in the Get Nuts Lab Hankook STR Racing S14 lost to Saito in the semis, but his top ranking put him on the podium in third place.
Just 11.5 markers separated Forsberg and Aasbo at season's end. The championship chase has not been that close since 2011, when Yoshihara cleared Justin Pawlak by less than six points.
Look for full event coverage later this week.