The second round of the Irish drift Championship burst into life on the picturesque port of Dun laorghaire in which was to be the most spectacular event yet. Turning up to an IDC event is always preceded by a cacophony of screeching tyres and screaming engines before you ever see the entrance or the smoke bellowing over the track. This event was a little different though as there seemed to be little noise outside but once inside you were met with the familiar smell of scalded tyres and burnt race fuel, echos of exhaust backfire and rev limiters bouncing off this all walled in track.

There was barely a ripple across the water but on the brick paved track a similar shimmer of rubber had already started to form from the early morning practice session.

The track layout could be best described as a giant figure 8 with no less than 9 clipping zones all along walls and 2 difficult transition zones. Practice on Saturday morning would see drivers tentatively testing the unfamiliar brick paved track. Any small mistake at all could see them in contact with those barriers that were so firmly bolted to the ground. Those that did rub walls would leave their mark wherever they hit.

The pit area was tight with only one lane in and out but with all the teams and drivers lined up beside each other it all seemed to gel together.

 

The Pro Am competition on Saturday saw some really good driving with drivers running right out to the wall where they could and filling those vital clipping points. Qualifying would see Liam Devlin in top spot with a score of 83.6 very closely followed by Chris Burnett with a solid 83 and Alan Hynes in 3rd spot with a 80.25.

As always in Pro Am class the battles would start with 32 drivers and each driver would have to battle hard to secure their place in the next set. There were some surprises as we went from 32 down to 16 and then on down to 8 drivers who would battle it out for a chance at the podium.

Coming through those battles were Dean Martin and Dan Moorehead who would have to face off first in the top 4. Dean kept up his consistent run all day and it was enough to see him take the win over Dan and proceed to the final.

The next battle was between Chris Burnett and Alan Hynes . Two drivers that had really been on form all day. Chris had a good lead run but Alan took every chance available to stick it to Chris’s rear quarter and it paid off as Alan takes the advantage and goes through to the final. Dan Moorehead would get to battle Chris Burnet for 3rd/4th place play off. After 2 great runs the judges had a decision and the last battle of the day would commence.

Alan Hynes and Dean Martin would go head to head in the final. Both drivers wanting this so badly. Alan being the higher qualifier led Dean in and pulled a decent gap in the first run. On the next run Dean would lead and again, Alan taking every opportunity to stick his car right to his opponents rear quarter panel, determined to gain his spot on the podium. The result was decided and all 4 drivers proceeded to the centre of the arena for the announcements, Chris Burnett was awarded the third spot on the podium with Dean Martin taking a well deserved 2nd place. Alan Hynes took top spot for his efforts all weekend and it was easy to see he was ecstatic with his win.

Peden Nielsen sporting his new Drift Games Traxcedo

Sunday morning would see the Pro drivers getting more and more confident with each run. They had tested the track the day before and some had made setup changes over night to deal with the brick paved surface and ensure they got maximum grip where needed. By the time they came to qualifying, drivers were tagging the wall on entry and continue on in the same vein most of the way round track. Bumper paint could be seen where they dragged the wall to gain the best line through the clipping zones.

Here we can see traces of Walsh yellow, McBurney red, Keating white and much more. Those that tapped the wall hard enough would find that it threw them off their line which would make it difficult to complete the course the way the judges specified in briefing and lose valuable points on the qualifying board. Some not even making it through to the top 24.

Jack Shanahan committed too much on his first qualifying run and the contact with the barrier rumbled across the venue like a roll of thunder. We were sure the damage would be significant but he got away light with some minor rear quarter damage and even though he remained upbeat had it all to do on his second run just to gain a place in the show later on in the day.

Qualifying would see Anthony Galvin hit top of the table with a 90.6  just ahead of Shane O’Sullivan in 2nd place with a good score of 88 dead. Duane McKeever came in a very close 3rd position on 87.5. All three drivers would automatically go into the top 16 with the other 5 highest qualifiers.The next 8 contenders would be decided by the top 24 battles.

At the top 24 stage there was another unexpected “out” as the Stone Motorsports 2jz engined drift taxi driven by Brendan suffered clutch failure issues and straightened out in his lead run . Brendan told us “the car has had over 500 dyno runs since its conception and has never missed a beat” so it was unfortunate to see it give out at such an early stage.

As we went through the top 16 we would be left with the great 8 to battle it out for the top spot on the podium and a chance to level out the championship

In the first battle Anthony Galvin pushed so hard on his lead run he came in contact with the barrier as Jack chased him. The contact caused the front of his car to pull off line and brought him to a halt among the tyre bales, with minimal damage done he proceeded back to the start line for his chase run. Slight contact between the two cars on the next run caused Anthony to come off line and he never regained proximity and the highest qualifier would go out against jack Shanahan who would take a place in the top 4.

After an intense chase run by Joe Doyle against Jack, Joe spins and gives Jack a 10-0 advantage. Jack does exactly what he needed to on his chase run to take the victory over Doyle.

Brian Egan and Chris Brady were the next to battle at the semi final stage. Brian had a good lead run and tried to capitalise on this with really good chase run right up until he made contact with Chris. The result went in Chris Brady’s favour and he would go through to the final against Jack.

The 3rd/4th place position would be decided by a battle between Joe Doyle and Brian Egan. Brian had a few big dives down the inside of Joe but wasn’t enough. The second run was just as close and the judges wanted to see one more run. The highest qualifier would get to choose whether they led or chased and after inspecting his tyres Joe would make Brian chase him. After another great run the judges were happy with a decision but wouldn’t release that call until after the final…

The Final battle of the day would see Chris Brady really bring the battle to Jack Shanahan with both drivers leaving smoke trails around the track. As Chris led Jack stuck to him as much as he could. Chris made a few small mistakes, running a little wide and off his line. The judges were happy with both runs and assembled all 4 finalists in front of he grandstand to announce the results.

The judges had decided that Brian Egan had done enough to beat Joe Doyle and he took 3rd spot on the podium. Chris Brady had fought hard all day and his reward was 2nd position which would put Jack Shanahan on the highest step and 1st place. The result would leave jack with a 13 point lead in the championship going into round 3.

Is this the year for Jack?  With 3 rounds still to go and the biggest challenge coming at round 3 Global Warfare where Irish Drift Championship vs Drift GP will host an equal amount of Irish drivers against foreign drivers, on a new layout for all competitors in what is set to be an epic mid-season clincher.

Stay tuned here for the next episode..
 
Words & Photos: Shane Ward
 

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