ABU DHABI // The pressure will be on Fredric Aasbo today after his impressive debut season when he finish as the 2010 rookie of the year in Formula Drift.
The young Norwegian driver finished a creditable 13th overall in his first year in the competition and is back in action today in the inaugural Formula Drift meeting at the Yas Marina Circuit, the opening event of the championship calendar.
"It was a very good learning curve for me last year," said Aasbo, 25, after a warm-up run at the Yas Marina Circuit.
"The pressure will be more from now on because I will be racing under a new sponsor.
"Obviously there will be a lot of expectations. It's the first race of the season and it's a great feeling too to arrive in Abu Dhabi from the freezing weather back home."
Aasbo, who is now sponsored by Team Need for Speed, will be behind the wheel of the Toyota which he has been racing on the European circuit for the last two years. He will be driving a new Toyota Scion in the United States.
"The car I have brought with me is the one I have been using for the last two years and I will continue to compete in the European circuit with it," he said.
"I will use the Toyota Scion for the American leg of the championship."
Aasbo's first visit to the country was 11 years ago when he accompanied his parents on a holiday in Dubai.
"I liked the place at that time and wanted to come again," he said. "And here I am again for a different purpose. A lot has changed since my first visit.
"I had heard about the Yas Marina Circuit. It is an amazing place."
Like most racers, Aasbo started with karts at the age of 12, but car racing was always his ambition.
"I was always involved in racing cars and I got hooked to the drift in 2006," he said.
"I started with an old BMW and won the Norwegian championship. I got a new sponsor last year to participate in Formula Drift and finished 13th after racing in only five of the seven rounds.
"It has been a pretty good start. I am now full-time on it. I am not making a fortune but I make a decent living and, more importantly, enjoy what I'm doing.
"I would like explore rally cars more. It's becoming a hit in the US. The plan is to combine drift and rally if things go well for me."
Joining Aasbo at Yas Island are seven other drivers including Tanner Foust, the two-time Formula Drift champion and three time X-Games gold medallist; Chris Forsberg, the 2009 Formula Drift Champion; Ryan Tuerck the top ranking driver; Mike Whiddett the former New Zealand champion and Formula Drift USA and Asia competitor; Daijiro Yoshihara, the Formula Drift veteran, and the Formula Drift series regulars Ken Gushi and Michael Essa, along with Tony Brakohiapa as the alternate driver.
Established on the streets of Japan, drifting has evolved into a worldwide competitive sport that challenges each driver's ability and requires a high level of car control and concentration.