Formula Drift Long Beach Recap: Ryan Tuerck Gets First Win of 2022

Formula Drift Long Beach kicked off the 2022 season this past weekend to another sold-out crowd packing the grandstands around turns 9, 10, and 11 on the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit.

This season saw the debut of a few new cars such as Chris Forsberg’s 2023 Nissan Z and Ryan Tuerck’s refreshed Toyota GR Corolla. There was a least one familiar car missing from the grid this year and that’s the Subaru BRZ of 2011 Formula Drift Champion Dai Yoshihara.

Dai announced his retirement from Formula Drift competition at the end of the 2021 season. However, Yoshihara couldn’t stay away completely as he was seen hanging around the paddock and catching up with his fellow drivers.

Adam LZ's RTR Ford Mustang drift car

Speaking of retired drivers, 2022 marks the first Formula Drift season without Vaughn Gittin Jr in the lineup. Gittin is taking a “break” from competition to focus on being a team owner and to try his hand at other motorsports. However, fan-favorite and YouTube influencer Adam “LZ” Lizotte-Zeisler has taken over Gittin’s Spec 5D RTR Ford Mustang.

With heavy-hitters such as Gittin and Yoshihara missing from the grid, the potential for the remaining veterans to gain an early lead was high.

Ryan Tuerck set the tone for the weekend by qualifying in the top spot on Friday. Tuerck was followed by Chelsea DeNofa and Matt Field respectively. Adam LZ proved that he had come to grips with his new Mustang with an impressive 11th qualifying position.

Formula Drift Long Beach Top 32

Ken Gushi versus Branden Sorrensen at Formula Drift Long Beach 2022
Photo by Larry Chen

The Top 32 was mostly business as usual except for a few upsets. 18-year-old Branden Sorrensen defeated veteran driver and former teen-phenom Ken Gushi. Taylor Hull and his new C7 Corvette managed to beat Formula Drift 2013 champion, Michael Essa.

Other notable Top 32 eliminations include Justin “JTP” Pawlak after falling to Dylan Hughes and Adam LZ losing to Wataru Masuyama.

Top 16

Formula Drift Long Beach 2022 Top 16 opening ceremonies

As usual, the Top 16 is when things get spicy. Especially in Long Beach which is known for its challenging, narrow layout with unforgiving concrete walls on both sides of the course.

Tuerck lined up against Sorrensen for his first battle in the second half of the event. The young Sorrensen put up a valiant effort but ultimately couldn’t best Tuerck.

Chelsea DeNofa versus Kyle Mohan at Formula Drift Long Beach 2022
Photo by: Larry Chen

On the other side of the bracket, Chelsea DeNofa faced off against Long Beach native Kyle Mohan. To my eyes, it appeared that Mohan had much better lines through the course than DeNofa. The judges noticed as well. One judge even noticed that were it not for Mohan’s line, DeNofa would have not have had a good follow run.

Yet despite that, the judges awarded the win to DeNofa. I have a feeling that battle will remain a topic of discussion among fans for at least the next few weeks.

Rome Charpentier faced off against the S-Chassis of rookie Daniel Stuke. Both drivers let it all hang out and Stuke gave absolutely no quarter to Charpentier. The battle was so close that the judges called for an OMT (one more time).

In the repeat battle, nerves got the better of Stuke when he made a critical mistake in the hairpin turn which caused a collision with Charpentier. That mistake ultimately cost Stuke the win.

Matt Field got an easy ticket to the Great 8 as his opponent Jonathan Hurst was forced to bow out of the Top 16 due to technical issues with his new BMW chassis.

Great 8

The first battle of the Great 8 was between Drift Alliance brothers in arms Chris Forsberg and Ryan Tuerck. Both drivers are talented technical drivers and both were piloting chassis that they have grown quite familiar with.

During the first run, Chris Forsberg experienced some issues with his transmission not shifting into 4th, which led to Tuerck building a sizable gap. Then, at the hairpin, Forsberg was slightly delayed in his transition and made contact with Tuerck’s car which caused a wheel misalignment. Forsberg called a competition time out to fix the issue and went back out but his lead run wasn’t enough to overcome the mistakes of his chase run in the eyes of the judges.

Meanwhile, Chelsea DeNofa’s wild driving style turned out to be his undoing as he went a little too HAM against Fredric Aasbo and nearly spun out before the second outside clipping zone. That mistake effectively sealed his fate and Fredric Aasbo advanced to the Final Four to face off against Matt Field who defeated Dylan Hughes.

With Odi Bakchis’ victory over Rome Charpentier, the Final Four was set.

Formula Drift Long Beach Final Four

Ryan Tuerck versus Odi Bakchis at Formula Drift Long Beach 2022
Photo by: Larry Chen

Odi Bakchis faced off against Ryan Tuerck in the first Final Four battle and both drivers put on a clinic of car control. However, Bakchis may have played it a bit too safe by taking a shallower line to keep proximity with Tuerck. Unfortunately for Bakchis, Drifting is a sport that rarely rewards conservative driving. The judges chose accordingly and Tuerck earned his spot in the finals.

The second battle of the Final Four is likely what will be the most talked-about moment of the entire round. 2021 champion Fredric Aasbo lined up against runner-up Matt Field. Field had been driving at peak level all day and was looking like a strong contender for the win.

However, Field’s day came to a catastrophic end when the battle began. As Aasbo chased Field in the first run, it appeared that he was psyched out by Field’s aggressive initiation. From there, Aasbo may have lost focus for a brief moment. The 2021 champion pushed his Supra a little too lose to Field’s Corvette and made contact as the pair were setting up for the second clipping zone.

The aftermath of Matt Field's damaged Corvette after he collided with Fredric Aasbo at Formula Drift Long Beach 2022
Photo by: Larry Chen

The contact sent Field into the wall hard. Field was uninjured but his car couldn’t say the same. With the judges placing fault on Aasbo for the collision Field moved on to the finals.

However, since the damage was so extensive, Field was unable to line up against Tuerck for the final battle. That meant Tuerck just needed a bye run to become the winner in Long Beach.

Formula Drift Long Beach 2022 Podium
Photo by: Larry Chen

Admittedly it was an anti-climatic finish but I’m pretty sure Tuerck had no issues taking the win and the valuable championship points.

On to Atlanta

Ryan Tuerck as seen after winning Formula Drift Long Beach 2022
Photo by: Larry Chen

With Long Beach in the books, the next round takes place in the first week of May at Road Atlanta. Atlanta is a favorite stop for several drivers including Tuerck. Though, does his affinity for the dirty south mean he can carry his momentum from Long Beach into another win? Or will Matt Field come back with a vengeance?

With roughly a month until the next round Field will have plenty of time to get his car back in fighting shape.

Stay tuned for more Formula Drift coverage throughout the season and keep an eye on the MotorworldHype Instagram and Twitter pages for more content.

 

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