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How Fredric Aasbø took a Corolla iM to the top of the podium

Oct 30, 2017

Fredric Aasbo With HIs Toyota Racing Team Vehicle Corolla IM
When it comes to competitive drifting, you probably wouldn’t place your bets on a kid from small-town Norway. But champion Corolla driver Fredric Aasbø of the Papadakis Racing Team has gotten used to shattering expectations. Aasbø pulled up to the North American drifting scene ten years ago as a 22 year-old unknown. Now, he’s topping podiums on three continents.

Aasbø’s latest ride, a souped-up Corolla iM Hatchback, comes courtesy of the Papadakis Racing team’s talented mechanics. They took a stock Corolla iM off the dealer lot and redesigned it from bottom to top, equipping it with high-powered parts from the Toyota factory and adding an eye-catching custom bodykit.

Toyota Racing

This new Corolla has proved a winning formula for Aasbø. Last month, over 1 million livestream viewers watched as he sped away with the 2017 Formula Drift Championship title at Montreal’s Autodrome St-Eustache. Aasbø’s latest victory — his tenth — now makes him the most successful driver in Formula Drift history.

To mark Aasbø’s record-setting win, and the Canadian debut of his custom Corolla, we asked Aasbø about his unique new ride, what it feels like to have 1,000 horsepower at your fingertips, and why he’s known around the world as the “Norwegian Hammer.”

To create your new car, the Papdakis Racing team stripped down a standard Corolla iM and took it through an incredible rebuild process. Can you talk us through this redesign?

Papadakis Racing is the most winning team in Formula Drift history, while I’ve been driving various drift cars in Europe, the USA, and Asia throughout my career. The custom Corolla iM is built on our collective experience from 10-plus years of drifting, and it incorporates all the successful engineering that we’ve developed on a number of different cars. It’s important to us that the car uses a lot of genuine Toyota factory parts that we know have demonstrated reliability to stand up to all the abuse we put them through in drifting.

Toyota Racing Corolla On Track iM From Rear

In terms of configuring the build, we’re using the same steering setup in all of our cars, which is very helpful to me. Its technology is derived from one of Toyota’s classic cars – the Supra – and it has been more or less the same on the four cars we’ve run in North America, China, Japan and Europe. That’s important to me because it’s possible to jump from car to car and get up to speed fairly quickly. We always try and look at the big picture and keep in sight our end goal, which is to win battles. And that trickles down into every detail on the cars.

Do you feel that you’re changing public perceptions surrounding the Corolla?

Kelly Blue Book recently named the Corolla iM one of the 10 coolest affordable cars and I think our car definitely fits the bill. We’ve taken a reliable, entry-level, daily driver and turned it into a fire-breathing, 1,000 horsepower machine.

Toyota Racing Corolla iM From Rear
It’s really fun for us to be able to surprise people with something unusual for Formula Drift. The Corolla hatchback of the 1980s is an absolute icon of drifting, and we’re excited to bring the nameplate back. I love that we can follow classic drift styling and still do something unique that we haven’t seen before. That’s what’s so cool about working with arguably the best drifting team in the world.

Your car boasts an incredible 1,000 horsepower. If you can possibly describe the experience, what does that feel like to drive?

Today’s drift cars are so extreme that I’m amazed every time I’m behind the wheel of one of them. These cars rival the most extreme hyper sports cars out there in terms of power and power-to-weight ratio, and this Rockstar Energy Drink / Nexen Tire Toyota Corolla iM is the most extreme drift car I’ve driven. When you step on the throttle, it’s like a horse kick: the power is so explosive and the grip is so extreme that you would think the car wouldn’t want to drift at all. But with the high power and torque we’re running, it’s able to overcome all that grip and be lightning fast while still going sideways.

Frederic Aasbo

What first attracted you to the motorsport, and how’d you hone your skills in the early days?

My dad was into grassroots rallying and I always admired the guys who weren’t necessarily the fastest, but the ones who were in control and looked like they were having the most fun behind the wheel. I was 15 when I discovered drifting and realized that the sport put all the highlights of a traditional motorsport event into one awesome show, and I fell in love with it right there and then.

Toyota Racing Corolla iM

I started out doing a little go karting as a kid, then I ran out of money, and after that I started building a basic drift car right at the time of drifting’s birth in Europe. I’ve grown with the sport ever since and have been lucky enough to win championships around the world.

My first car was a $300 sedan that I used to drive for my job selling vacuum cleaners. That car only lasted three months, but taught me the basic skills I’ve built my career on.

You’ve been bestowed with the nickname the “Norwegian Hammer.” How’d you earn it?

When I came into the Formula Drift scene as a young kid from Northern Europe back in 2010, nobody knew who I was. During my first competition in Long Beach, California, I was hammering away at the competition and the series announcer Jarod “The Voice of Drift” DeAnda started calling me “The Norwegian Hammer.” It’s stuck with me ever since.

Frederick Aasbo

So what's next for you?

We’ll travel to the Seattle area for Round 6 (of eight) at Evergreen Speedway. Before then, I’ve got some plans to be in Japan for a demonstration event at the end of the month, and I’m also planning some fun creative projects in Europe. Watch this space!

Learn More: Explore the Toyota Corolla iM Hatchback Here