Fredric Aasbo and Ryan Tuerck kick off Formula Drift season in Long Beach

Fredric Aasbo and Ryan Tuerck kick off Formula Drift season in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, California (April 15, 2024) – Papadakis Racing Toyota drivers Fredric Aasbo and Ryan Tuerck put their first points on the board this weekend as the Formula Drift season opened in front of packed grandstands on the Streets of Long Beach.

Saturday’s battles proved intense as mixed weather conditions brought an additional challenge to the typically tough Long Beach event. Drivers had to navigate across multiple surfaces as they made their way through Turns 9, 10, and 11 between the intimidating track walls of the tight Grand Prix street course.

“It’s a hodgepodge of a track out there -- partially a Long Beach parking lot and partially freeway concrete,” said Aasbo. “When the rain started, it was like driving on soap.”

Three-time Formula Drift champion Aasbo finished fifth on Saturday after a close battle with longtime rival James Deane. The contest went to a one-more-time re-run after their first match was deemed too close to call. “Even though we didn’t get on the box this weekend, I think we’re off to a good start,” said Aasbo.

Aasbo debuted a new livery for the Rockstar Energy Toyota GR Supra, inspired by the beachy colors of Southern California. The new look is the latest collaboration between automotive artist Jon Sibal and the team. Sibal has been responsible for some of the most recognizable bodywork styling and iconic livery designs for Papadakis Racing Toyota.

Tuerck returned in the Rain-X Toyota GR Corolla clad in a familiar yellow livery -- but with big changes under the hood. The Toyota GR Corolla is now powered by a 1,000-plus horsepower inline-six engine derived from the Toyota GR Supra. The new powerplant performed flawlessly, but a tough draw during opening round competition put Tuerck on the back foot from the Round of 32.

A new qualifying format saw both Aasbo and Tuerck pre-qualified for the weekend’s competition based on the strength of previous performances. For the opening round, Tuerck found himself facing series newcomer Conner Shanahan, who is the latest among a very competitive crop of European drivers to join the series.

An unusual turn of events saw Shanahan’s crew make an illegal tire change after miscommunication between the team and series officials. As a result, judges called for a rematch between Tuerck and Shanahan in the Round of 32. Tuerck advanced, but not without damage to the Rain-X Toyota GR Corolla after Shanahan hit the wall and Tuerck could not avoid him. Tuerck went on to claim 10th place points in slick conditions after another collision that ultimately ended his day.

Shawn Hillier returned as crew chief for the 2024 Rockstar Energy Toyota GR Supra, while Chris Licup stepped into the spotter’s booth for Aasbo. Team owner Papadakis made a brief appearance on Saturday to support the team after the birth of his second child, a boy, earlier this week. Brian Hartsock returned as spotter to Tuerck and crew chief on the Rain-X Toyota GR Corolla.

"I'm incredibly proud of the team's effort for the 2024 season opener. Everybody stepped it up and we had a blast working together," said Hillier. "We didn't see the results translate on track this time but I know they'll come and I'm looking forward to the next round."

Formula Drift is set to run a full schedule of eight event weekends across the country. Up next for the team is Round 2 at Road Atlanta May 9-10.

The Papadakis Racing team began drifting in 2004 and is the most winning team in Formula Drift history, earning the 2022, 2021 and 2015 titles with driver Aasbo, as well as back-to-back championships with driver Tanner Foust in 2007 and 2008. Tuerck joined the Papadakis Racing team in 2020 and has shown strong results in the Toyota GR Corolla, bringing home the third-place championship trophy in 2022 and 2020. Partner Toyota has won the manufacturer’s cup eight times since 2014.

Drifting is a high-skill, high-powered motorsport with an emphasis on car control. In the Formula Drift series, drivers compete in knockout heats on a closed course, sliding sideways in trials judged on speed and style. With origins in Japan, the sport has rapidly grown to one of the most popular youth-oriented motorsports in the world. Here in the United States, Formula Drift officially launched in 2004 and its national schedule of eight events routinely host capacity crowds, while live-streamed multi-platform broadcasts attract millions of online viewers.