Well, that was unexpected. We figured with the Scion brand going away and Scion Racing morphing in a Toyota motorsports entity it was only a matter of time before 2015 Formula DRIFT drivers champion Fredric Aasbo ditched his tC and strapped into an 86 like his Toyota Racing teammates. Seems logical, right? Stick your winningest ace into the hottest RWD sports car in your lineup – in our minds it was a done deal.
Actually, not so much. Aasbo, Papadakis Racing, and team sponsors Rockstar Energy Drink and Nexen Tire announced today that Aasbo will be driving a Toyota Corolla iM in the 2017 Formula D championship. In factory trim, the iM (which coincidentally was a Scion before it became a Toyota Corolla) is a front-wheel drive (FWD), which means Papadakis again had to go through the crazy engineering R and D to convert a front drive to a rear drive like he did with Aasbo’s outgoing tC.
The corresponding press release gave up a few more clues about the build, namely that the five-door hatchback will be making 1,000 horsepower with a turbo, nitrous 2AR power plant, just like the tC did. The iM also features a Borg Warner EFR turbo, AEM Infinity-8 fuel injection, four-speed dog-engagement gearbox, and RS-R suspension. Custom-designed Dzine Unlimited fenders make room for Nexen N’fera SUR4 tires on Motegi Technomesh D wheels.
Arguably one of the coolest aspects about the rollout was the video that accompanied the announcement. Titled “Rockstar D,” the short edit is a live-action, shot-by-shot remake of the opening to the cult-favorite Initial D anime series. Last year Corolla celebrated its 50th anniversary of production and is a global best seller – buts it’s been a long time since it’s been as cool as the original hachi roku.
Aasbo, Papadakis, and co. will put the Rockstar Nexen Corolla iM through its paces this weekend on the Long Beach Grand Prix street course in the first round of the 2017 Formula DRIFT Championship. If you can’t be there in person, make sure to catch FD’s live stream on both Friday, March 31st and Saturday, April 1st.