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· The Dude
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Tuerck works hard for his first championship

DRIFTING: Young driver ecstatic after defeating veteran Hubinette.
By Robert Morales, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - A boxer will often leap into the arms of his trainer after a thrilling victory. Ryan Tuerck is no boxer, but he fought like heck Saturday to win the first Formula Drift Pro Championship series event of his young career.

Minutes after defeating two-time series winner Samuel "The Crazy Swede" Hubinette in the championship tandem round on the streets of Long Beach, Tuerck stood in the podium area. He was so excited, he leaped into the arms of a team member, who lifted Tuerck even higher off his feet.

"I'm about to have an emotional breakdown," said Tuerck, who seemed about as happy as one can be at a particular moment. "This is the first time I have ever won a professional event of drifting, let alone (one) in the premier series in the USA, Formula D.

"So I am absolutely ecstatic and I don't even know what to do right now. It's barely even sunk in."

Tuerck, who on Friday qualified 10th for Saturday's 32-car field, is a grass-roots drifter who began dabbling in the sport at the age of 17 while sliding his car around empty parking lots.

When he competed in two rounds of Formula Drift in 2005, he was still building his own motors. But he gained some sponsors and competed in the entire 2006 campaign. Tuerck, 24, then finished 15th in the series in 2007 and climbed up to sixth in 2008.

His ascent notwithstanding, he did not seem a likely candidate to pull off what he did Saturday. He easily defeated Calvin Wan -

who qualified 23rd - in the round of 32. But it took him a regular tandem cycle - meaning there are two runs with one car leading and the other chasing and then vice versa - as well as a one-more-time to dispatch Conrad Grunewald in the round of 16.
(If judges aren't sure of a winner, they call for a one-more-time, or OMT).

Tuerck defeated Tony Brakohiapa in the round of eight, but he had to do an OMT to get past two-time defending series champion Tanner Foust in the semifinals.

Tuerck, of Derry, N.H., was near-perfect on both ends of the tandem run in the finals, but Hubinette took out a couple of cones on the hairpin turn.

"I was actually very calm, cool and collected," Tuerck said of his thoughts prior to going toe-to-toe with Hubinette. "I kept making people go a lot of one-more-times, so I was like, `I want to get this over immediately. So let's hammer down and knock out two fantastic runs and finish this up in one run.' "

Hubinette did not have a terrific qualifying day on Friday, getting the 12th spot. But he ran well all day Saturday and most in the press area figured he would probably win once he got to the final.

"I would say it's a mixed feeling," said Hubinette, of Newport Beach. "I felt I was really on fire today and we had the traction that we needed out of the BFGs (B.F. Goodrich tires), no issues whatsoever with the Mopar power.

"And I was sending out good harmony today. So I felt I could have definitely had it. But small circumstances make you be knocked out, or you move on. But overall to be second place in the first event, you get a big chunk of points and that's going to help you the rest of the season."

One of Hubinette's victories came against Long Beach's Justin Pawlak in the round of 16.

It was indeed a day of upsets. Another was top qualifier Chris Forsberg going out in the round of 16, losing to Long Beach's Stephan Verdier, who had earlier defeated defending world champion Rhys "Mad Skills" Millen in the round of 32 before losing to Robbie Nishida in the round of eight.

Also, No.2 qualifier Darren McNamara lost to No.15 Brakohiapa in the round of 16. And No.11 qualifier Dai Yoshihara, who finished fourth in the series last season, was taken out by rookie Jeff Jones - who qualified 22nd - in the round of 32.

Another local, Kyle Mohan of Long Beach, lost to Brakohiapa in the round of 32.

For Foust, finishing third was not too shabby. He is in a new car with only a few days underneath it.

"I always want first," said Foust, of San Juan Capistrano. "But to be honest I was just drooling over the opportunity of qualifying well in this car and getting any seat time at all.

"And then with five one-more-times that I ran - I ran everybody so many times - I've gotten a huge amount of seat time in the car now."

Forsberg, the defending Long Beach champion, also was philosophical about his day.

"It was a bit of a disappointment, but we finished ninth overall in the event, so we're really happy with a top-10 finish to start off the season," said Forsberg, of Huntington Beach.

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· Premium Member
10,831 Posts
Thrat's cool that a grass-roots driver was able to pull it off, giving hope to others out there & hopefully promoting the sport even more.

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