The Irish Drift Championship season kicks off again and in usual fashion at Mondello Park in County Kildare is the season opener.The home of Irish competitive drifting is no stranger to hosting the event which kicks off the chase for Championship glory but this year it would do so under a set of new rules.

The new rules seem to be designed to enhance the whole competition experience, make it fairer for the drivers regardless of wheel horse power and at the same time make it an overall more enjoyable experience for the fans to watch with much less down time between each run.

New Rules..

New drivers , new livery, new Cars and new engines. With so much going on in the off-season it would be exciting to see what drivers have come to battle with this year, and how all these new rules would impact their plans.

Saturday would see the start of the Pro-Am competitive season and with some of the IADC top finishers stepping up a class. It would be interesting to see how they would fare against the rest of the seasoned grid. For some it would be the first time they got to stretch the legs of their new build and practice time was valuable. For others it was time to perfect that qualifying line that would carry them through the day.

As always with Irish drifting it is almost impossible to predict who will gain a podium step but Conor Shanahan was one to watch. His practice runs would give an indication of how he intended to qualify and with that he clocked a score of 89, Chris Burnett was the only man to top that with a solid 94 from the judges.

As the Top 32 were decided and the battles commenced it wasn’t long before the competition was whittled down to 16 and then 8, out of that Great 8 came the Top 4 finalists.

John Shine would come up against a very on form Chris Burnett and after a series of progressively harder runs, John came out on top.

In what must be the youngest two competitors on the grid Conor Shanahan faced off against Ryan Caldwell and after two very fast runs Conor goes through to the final.

John Shine and Conor Shanahan had a terrific battle with both drivers really giving it there all for that top spot. The judges had a decision and little did they know it but the Top 3 would all pull their cars up behind their respective places on the podium. Ryan Caldwell gained third spot on the podium, with John Shine taking 2nd place.

Ladies and gentlemen our round 1 Pro-Am winner and current championship leader Conor Shanahan.

The top 4 finishers would go through to the next days pro competition and a chance to qualify for top 24.

Sunday of IDC is always a much more spectacular affair…

Peden Nielsen’s freshly wrapped Drift Games 180 just looked fantastic.

Darren McNamara had decided not to drive the DMAC 240 this weekend and instead became Mike Fitz’s pit boss, when asked for a smile for the camera he replied “I am Smiling”… I guess this is as good as it gets but we look forward to seeing him behind the wheel in 2017.

Wall of Westlakes, ever wonder where this all rubber goes?…

Well now you know. With new tire rules in place where each driver must be able to run two runs on the same set of tires and this picture makes you think are the drivers really holding back.

This is what the rear end of a Pro Drift car looks like.

From watching Pro practice in the morning to walking down pit lane, it is amazing to see the quality of the builds that have gone on over the off-season. Engines and chassis that would be right at home in Formula Drift. Whether it be LS, RB, 2J, M3, M5, Supercharged or Turbo, take your pick, everything from sub 200bhp to over 800+ bhp. The vibrancy of new color schemes and intricate detail of new liveries this year is a sight in itself.

Mitch Larner put his car together in 7 days, and was feeling confident on track. Competing for the season he might be one to watch…

As qualifying started the crowd would fill the grandstand and action would kick off.

Jack Shanahan had a blistering run scoring a solid 98 points from the judges and take highest qualifier. He was followed closely by Tomas Keily with a 95 and Australian Mitch Larner with a 92.

There was some upset though as last years champion Duane McKeever had mechanical issues with is new car and had to borrow Daryl McFadden’s car and try to qualify. Unfortunately for Duane he fell just outside the top 24 and it would put an end to his hopes of and early lead in the championship race.

Dennis Murphy was another driver to have mechanical difficulties and although he looked good in practice he suffered oil pump failure and couldn’t risk doing any more damage to the Dynamic Customs Kaber Performance sponsored 180. Down but not out he jumped into Arty McMullen’s RB powered S14 and qualified 15th and getting himself into the top 24 on his first outing in the Pro class.

In typical Mondello style the weather would change and a heavy downpour would come just after qualifying and change the track conditions.

Adrian Walsh in the V8 LS engined Corolla would be among the first to be caught out and his mistake cost him as Chris Burnett proceeds onto the next set of battles.

Kamikaze Kelian Woods lived up to his reputation as he came in contact with Conor Shanahan, the collision caused him to break a tie rod and de-bead a front tire and had to retire from the competition. In true Keilan spirit he refused the recovery vehicle and just gunned the car off track.

As the rest of the battles progressed we were left with a Top 16 and from here on in the battles would only get harder. Every driver would have to give it their all to get into the Great 8.

Chris Burnett ended his terrific run from the day before when he came up against Jack Shanahan,

Peden Nielsen overcame Baggsi and staved off yet another international contender.

Paul Conlon proved the faster against Shane O’Sullivan who was breaking in a new 2JZ setup this year.

Tomas Kiely pushed hard and it was enough to see him through against Nigel Colfer.

Barry Leonard put in a great run but had to pull out of competition after the car refused to restart for him and in doing so gave Anthony Galvin a pass into the next set of battles.

Gary Dunne fought of attack from another International driver in the shape of Mitch Larner and he too progressed.

With the top 8 decided both of the Shanahan brothers would proceed to a Semi-final.

Tomas Kiely went up against Anthony Galvin but he had overheating issues with the car on the line and needed to call a 5 minute rule, Now here’s the kicker.

To do this Tomas had to first start his run and then call the rule which in turn would give him effectively a 30-0 disadvantage on the first run.The first to really run foul of the new rule changes Tomas opted to withdraw from the next run and again Anthony goes through.

Gong into the top 4 battle Conor and Jack would face off for the first time in Irish Competition. To say this battle has been waited for a long time is an understatement and it was only a matter of time. Jack took advantage on his lead run by a slight amount. On Conor’s lead run he gave it his all but his more experienced older brother wouldn’t hold back and stuck to him for most of the track. Jack would take the win and a place in the final leaving Conor to fight it out for the next available spot on the podium.

Anthony Galvin led in Gary Dunne and it was a tight run from both drivers. On the second run Anthony clips a cone chasing and obliterates his bumper. The judges decide that it was too close to call and went for One More Run. Anthony chases on this run and was almost stuck to Gary. His hard chase awarded him the win and he would go through to face Jack in the final.

Conor took advantage on his lead run against Gary and the next run he kept close proximity the whole way round. The judges had a decision and it was on to the final battle of the day.

Jack had a savage lead run even though Anthony gave it absolutely everything to keep the pace. Their first run was scored dead even and the final run of the day left it all to play for. On Anthony’s lead run he missed clip 3 and Jack took full advantage of this mistake by putting it right up on his door.

The battle was done and the judges had their top 3 chosen.

Conor was delighted at 3rd spot on the Pro podium which broadens his options for the season ahead. Anthony Galvin took the 2nd position for his first time and was almost overwhelmed with the result he had fought hard for all day.

And your Round 1 Pro Champion and current Championship Leader Jack Shanahan on top spot.

With the first round over we are pretty sure all drivers will be focused on Round 2, adding a new track in the mix there are very little advantages for any driver going in to the next round. Drift on the Docks is set to be epic.

Stay tuned for more coverage.
Words: Shane Ward
Photos: Shane Ward and Slawomir Kasperczyk