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Kazuya Taguchi Scores Flawless Maiden Victory at Formula Drift Round 5, He's Overjoyed
Round 5 of the 2022 Formula Drift season has come to an end. And that leaves us with just three more races, which are set to unfold in Monroe (Washington), Grantsville (Utah), and Irwindale (California). Yesterday there were some pretty interesting battles, some of which yielded unexpected results. Some drivers left Saint Louis with more points in the bag than others, so let's take a look at how it all went down.

Kazuya Taguchi Scores Flawless Maiden Victory at Formula Drift Round 5, He's Overjoyed

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Before looking at the Pro results, let's do a quick run-through of the Prospec battles. Dmitriy Brutskiy dominated the upper left bracket, after winning his tandem runs against Rich Whiteman in his Freedom Motorsport Toyota JZX100, and Nate Chen in the LSX-powered GT86.

On the lower left bracket, Robert Thorne went past his first two opponents, only to lose against local driver Derek Madison. Brutskiy would face the same fate going up against Madison, who would move on to the final battle against Evan Bogovich.

Bogovich would be leaving Saint Louis with 100 more points under his name, which has him sitting in third place in the series rankings. Meanwhile, Brutskiy is now second overall, just one point behind Robert Thorne.

Claiming second was a good moment for Derek Madison, as he is now fifth on the leaderboard, just 28 points behind the leader. Now, let's move on to the main event of the weekend: the Pro battles! Kazuya Taguchi had qualified first on the previous day, with Justin Pawlak claiming P2 and Dylan Hughes in third.

The three judges for the weekend were, as always: Chris Uhl, Ryan Lanteigne, and Brian Eggert. Robbie Nishida only stepped in as a temporary judge during the previous Formula Drift event. For the first battle of the day, Kazuya Taguchi would be going up against Dan Burkett in a 2,300-hp tandem for a spot in the Top16.

Dan had a tough time keeping up with Taguchi on the first run, and his second run wasn't going to be good enough to pull him back in the game. After a unanimous decision, the 29-year-old driver from Japan would be moving on to the next stage.

Meanwhile, both Adam LZ and Michael Essa would be knocked out of the race by Mike Power and Yves Meyer respectively. Seeing Federico Sceriffo's Ferrari out on the track is always a spectacular sight, and this time he managed to win his first tandem of the day against Daniel Stuke.

No luck for rotary fans yesterday as Kyle Mohan didn't find it in him to take out Matt Field, who is looking particularly strong this season. Jeff Jones has been drifting for 20 years now, which is 10 more than his first opponent of the day: Taylor Hull. And in this game, your experience can be a decisive factor in any tandem run.

While Nick Noback won his race against Simen Olsen, the other exciting battle of the lower left bracket was the one between Travis Reeder and Aurimas Backchis. Both their cars are LS-powered and rated for over 900 horsepower.

With Reeder leading, Backchis didn't seem phased by the clouds of smoke and kept pressing on. The Lithuanian driver called for a Competition Time Out, which would allow him five minutes to inspect and repair any mechanical issue he might have experienced. As they went back into the second run, Reeder didn't seem quite as confident giving chase.

As a result, the winner of Round 4 was out of the race and Backchis was advanced to the Top16. On the other side of the bracket, Pawlak lost his race against Kearney, who in return would be taken out by Wataru Masuyama in the Top16.

It felt strange seeing Chris Forsberg getting eliminated in his first battle of the day, but that's just how unpredictable drifting can be. Series veteran Ken Gushi was on a roll yesterday, as he moved past Ryan Litteral, Jonathan Hurst, and Wataru Masuyama to arrive at the Top4.

Dylan Hughes drove his Royal Purple BMW E46 to victory against both Ola Jaeger and Rome Charpentier. But he would be stopped in his tracks by Ryan Tuerck, who had just defeated Fredric Aasbo in the Top16.

That means that Chelsea Denofa's hopes of winning this round were turned to ashes from his very first battle of the weekend. Federico Sceriffo's best race of this season so far would come to an end, as Kazuya Taguchi was on a mission for the podium throughout the weekend.

Not even Matt Field could stop the Japanese driver in their Top4 battle. On the other side of the bracket, Ken Gushi wasn't as successful going up against Ryan Tuerck. This is Gushi's best performance so far this year, although he put on a good show in Englishtown too.

As the battle for third place has become a thing of the past, everyone's attention turned to the final battle of Round 5. It seems that running four-digit horsepower figures these days is a lot more common than you'd think. While Taguchi's FR-S is rated at 1,300-hp, Ryan Tuerck would have to do with just 1,000 in this Corolla.

Tuerck made a small mistake on his chase run, and in an attempt to fix that mistake he pushed his car a bit too hard and made contact with his opponent. With a flat rear tire and some bumper damage, fans had to wait for a few more minutes before they could witness the outcome of this final battle. But there wasn't going to be a second run.

The subframe of the FR-S had suffered extensive damage, which couldn't be repaired on the spot. And so, the decision of the judges would be unanimous. Kazuya Taguchi went on to win his first ever Formula Drift event, after a flawless weekend! He could barely speak during his post-race interview, and that felt like a wholesome moment indeed!



 
 
 
 
 

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