Irish Drift Championship - Round 4
by James Preston
The best in Ireland, the best in Britain, the best in the world, all squeezed into a tiny tight and technical kart track repurposed to accommodate over 30,000 horsepower for the Irish Drift Championship Round 4. The IDC motorised circus rolled into Cork last weekend, and for the second year in a row, Watergrasshill would play host to the sideways action. Following on from the news last week that Formula D have teamed up with the Irish Drift Championship and British Drift Championship going forward, Cork was already set to be an international affair, with Ireland, the UK, Australia and even a strong contingent from the UAE representing.
IDC Round 4 kicks off a season long wait for the IDC vs BDC Super Series. 4 Rounds, 2 in Ireland, 2 in the UK and only 1 winner will crowned the Super Series champion. The BDC would be travelling with heavy weight names such as Driftworks’ Martin Richards and the R32 Skyline, current BDC point’s leader Team Japspeeds’ Matt Carter and up and coming giant killer Oliver Evans. But defending their home soil, Ireland would have current IDC champion Duane McKeever and current BDC champion Jack Shanahan to name but a few standing in the way of the podium though.
Taking time out of his Championship fight in Formula D, James Deane would make his first appearance on track for 2017 in Ireland, and all in the aid of his friend and long time sponsor John Allen. A devastating fire would destroy John’s business West Coast Performance last month and thankfully no lives were lost, but livelihoods vanished in moments. John has been a long time tuner and sponsor of numerous drifters in the paddock and was always willing to get people on track by any means necessary so it was time to turn the tables and give back with a raffle for passenger spins with one of the world’s greatest drifters. Sign me up!
Watergrasshill has long been a home for grassroots drifting in Cork. It’s tight and technical layout was always seen as a great starter track for up and comers, and would always favour precision and the finesse of a perfect line over pure brute force horsepower. Get it right and you will be able to gain every split second needed whether it be on the speed gun in qualifying or open a margin in battles for all to see.
One man who did just that in Qualifying was KeepDriftingSerious Peden Nielsen in his SR powered KDS 180sx. Peden would blitz the clip 2 speed gun on his first run propelling him to top qualifying for much of the afternoon, but he would eventually be dethroned by Australia’s Mitch Larner in the V8 powered Westlake tyre PS13. The Perth native has really found his feet on Irish soil and is by far the strongest contender to take down the 13 year undefeated Irish streak on home soil.
Coming into the weekend current championship points leader Jack Shanahan was in touching distance of claiming the trophy that has eluded in his illustrious career so far. Jack has stood aloft the podium in Ireland and Europe numerous times and was the first person to ever win the British Drift Championship back to back, but he was pipped to the post at the last hurdle of the 2016 Irish Drift Championship by Duane McKeever in a dramatic finale. But with numerous mechanical issues hampering Duane in the first half of the 2017 season, Shanahan has dominated thus far.
Coming into the Top 16, the beautiful blue sky of the sunny south-west became a murky grey and a heavy mist descended on track. What transpired in the Top 16 would see favourites fall victim to changing conditions, hometown heroes emerge and championship hopes fade. 2017 IDC Pro Am Champion TJ Berney would halt Jack Shanahan’s progress and he will have to anxiously wait it out till Japfest for another attempt at championship glory.
On the other side of the bracket, Shanahan’s closest rival in the championship fight Tomas Kiely was now in the spotlight as he attempted to claw back valuable points in the title race but another dramatic twist would see him also exit stage left leaving the championship wide open going into the last round.
Mitch Larner would have an eventful afternoon, with engine fires on the start line, and a broken control arm following a collision that would evidentially rule him out of the competition in the Top 4, handing the 3rd place podium to IDC 2016 Champion Duane McKeever.
After missing much of the 2017 season, underdog and underpowered Paul McCarthy and his trusty BMW E36 would have a tough route to the final against Denis Murphy. Running on 4 cylinders and with a bent rear control arm from heavy impact in the first battle of the final, McCarthy would battle his way around the track to claim top spot on the podium. With only one round of the championship to go, it is all shaping up to be an epic climax to an action packed season.
Location: Watergrasshill, Cork
Words by: Adam O'Connor
Photos by: Adam O'Connor