Kazyua Taguchi Wins Formula Drift St. Louis 2022, Tuerck Takes Second
Formula Drift returned to the Midwest to run a modified version of the Worldwide Technologies Raceway course. The track is just over the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, Missouri with a gorgeous view of the Gateway Arch off in the horizon. From a driver perspective, the venue has earned reputation for accidents over the last few seasons, and even with the track modification for this year’s event, we saw lots of drivers blind-sided by tire smoke in the chase position with a number of collisions near the finish line to close out the night in St. Louis.
Kazyua Tagauchi laid it down in qualifying with his Scion FR-S chassis had the best qualifying run of the day and earned a huge score of 91 to land in the top position. Justin Pawlak was not far behind him with his aggressive style scoring a 90. Dylan Hughes closed out the top three in his BMW.
Rad Dan Burkett couldn’t hang on to the speed developed by the Scion FR-S of Kazyua Tagauchi—and the top qualifier Tagauchi moved into the next round of competition. Adam LZ had an issue in his lead run where he tagged the outer zone wall two and then the car gripped up, big time, mid-course resulting in a poor score—giving Mike Power the win and ending Adam’s competition for the event.
Matt Field dominated Formula Drift veteran Kyle Mohan in their tandem battle allowing Matt Field to move on in the tandem bracket. Ryan Tuerck faced off against Joao Barion—Joao really struggled to stay on a correct line in the chase battle with his Corvette. Joao was much stronger in his lead battle but couldn’t make up for all his chase run mistakes. And Team Nitto driver Ryan Tuerck moved into the next round of competition.
In the last, and possibly most anticipated battle of the Top 32, Chelsea DeNofa went up against fellow Nitto teammate Fredric Aasbo. As Aasbo knew, DeNofa’s willingness to throw it all on the line is his biggest strength and weakness—he’s hard to beat on his best days by anyone, but on this day, Aasbo had his number. Unfortunately for Chelsea, he turned it up a little too high, and gave Aasbo the win.
Terrific Top 16
The lights came on in St. Louis as nighttime fell over the course and the Top 16 opened with Kazyua Tagauchi beating Mike Power. Mike Power struggled to get to any of the four outer zones while in chase, putting him at a huge disadvantage. Tagauchi drove a great chase run, mirroring Mike Power, which catapulted Taguchi into the Great 8.
Another great battle came to an end as Jeff Jones over rotated his 370Z when chasing Matt Field, which ended Jones’ charge for the podium. Matt Field held on during his chase run to advance into the next round. In an unusual fashion, Odi Bakchis struggled in his top 16 battle with mechanical car issues that gave Nick Noback the ability to advance into the Great 8 for the first time in his Formula Drift Pro career!
The last battle of the top 16 pitted Ryan Tuerck against Fredric Aasbo. Ryan Tuerck led first, and Fredric Aasbo looked like he was putting down the chase run of his life as the crowd went wild! As they closed in on the finish line Ryan Tuerck transitioned and was hit by Fredric Aasbo and sent off the course. Fredric Aasbo put on a wild lead run to try and make up for the disadvantage, but Ryan Tuerck made no mistakes and moved into the round of 8.
A Great 8 Under the Lights
Kazyua Tagauchi lined up against Federico Sceriffo in his Ferrari 599 GTB to kick off this round of racing. As they initiated into the first turn, Sceriffo’s Ferrari gripped up and went off track resulting in him not getting a score and calling a Competition Timeout. The team found out the power steering pulley ripped off the tensioner pulley which resulted in the Ferrari unable to complete the second run and handing Kazyua Tagauchi another victory for the night.
Matt Field then met Nick Noback who was debuting in the Great 8 in the nighttime heat of St. Louis. Matt Field’s Corvette was fast and putting out a ton of tire smoke as Nick Noback tried to chase him down in his BMW. Matt’s aggressive chase run left no doubt in the judge’s minds that he’d be in the Final Four.
Dylan Hughes led first against Ryan Tuerck to close out the Great 8 round of the event. Ryan Tuerck was so close on the chase run but backed out too much near the exit for Dylan Hughes, but the judges also considered that Dylan Hughes possibly slowed down incorrectly in that zone and was given fault for the contact. Ryan Tuerck looked great in the lead battle inside his Toyota GR Corolla. Dylan Hughes ended up spinning right before the finish line as he scrambled to keep up with Ryan Tuerck towards the end of the battle. Ryan Tuerck made it to the final four.
New Faces in the Final Four
Matt Field talked about in an interview before the race that his concern was “Tagauchi’s car was very fast” and he was ready to drive all out. Field missed a zone in the chase position, but Kazyua Tagauchi ended up tapping a wall, scrubbing some speed and then Matt Field pancaked the two cars together as they crossed the finish line. The drivers looked over and made minor repairs to their cars before returning for part two of the battle. Matt Field put some great angle in the lead and Tagauchi was looking so good until he gripped up and crashed into Matt Field just before the finish line—but both drivers continued to cross the line. Two of the three judges called a One More Time (OMT) which meant they had to run against each other again.
Their second battle was even more wild! Matt Field really pushed in his chase battle and ended up going off course by turn two and then scrambled to keep up with Kazyua, but going into turn four Matt Field punted him off course and put Taguchi’s Scion FR-S through a chain link fence! They changed positions and continued to put on the battle of the weekend! The crash from Matt Field couldn’t be made up for and that sent Kazyua Tagauchi to his first ever final battle in Formula Drift history.
Ryan Tuerck started in the lead against Ken Gushi who chased him down in his new Toyota GR 86 in the last face-off of the final four. Ryan Tuerck seemed way faster in the lead run as his GR Corolla really hooked up and took off around the course. Ken Gushi was looking good in the lead but couldn’t keep it together for the whole lap and spun just before the finish line. That put Ryan Tuerck into the final battle and confirmed Matt Field would be on the podium in third place.
The Final Fight Ends in Carnage
The final battle of the night found Kazyua Tagauchi battling Ryan Tuerck. Taguchi was flying around the course in the tandem and managed to smash the Scion FR-S into the wall, and then the drivers once again crashed into each other going across the finish line. Tagauchi had completed the lap as Ryan Tuerck hit him, which meant Tuerck spun across the finish line resulting in him not completing the lap, which meant an incomplete score for his first run. Ryan Tuerck’s team scrambled to fix the car in the allotted time. Unfortunately, the cars never made it back out to complete the final battle, with Kazyua Tagauchi earning his first ever event win. With his first-place qualifying run and his event win, Taguchi had a perfect race weekend!
Kazyua Tagauchi becomes the 30th Formula Drift driver of all time to score an event victory in the series history. He is now the eighth Japanese driver to win an American event since Formula Drift began in 2014.
For the 2022 season, Matt Field remains in first place with 415 points after five rounds of the series. Fredric Aasbo is in second place just 32 points behind Matt Field, and Ryan Tuerck is only three points behind Fredric Aasbo as we head to Seattle next month for Round Six of the Formula Drift series.