Irish Drift Championship Round 1: Mondello Park

Truth be told the Irish Drift Championship has always just sort of passed me by. Over the years Ireland has produced some awesome drivers; James Deane, Darren McNamara and Dean Kearney have all competed in Formula Drift having come from the IDC and in return several Formula Drift veterans such as Chris Forsberg have hopped over the pond to Ireland to compete in the IDC since it has grown such an amazing reputation.

The organisers of the IDC have also taken charge of the British Drift Championship and round 1 of that was quite simply one of the best organised events I have had the pleasure of watching in Europe so I had to see what all the fuss was about!

The track laid out for Round 1 at Mondello park was a super fast run with lots of transitions and outer clipping zones. It would push both the cars and drivers to their limits.

The only two overseas drivers competing were Essex’s own Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni in his new twin turbo V6 powered PS13 and Australia’s Mitch Larner who had his 900hp V8 shipped over from Australia and built a PS13 around it the week before the competition!

The rest of the field were Irish and every single driver in the top 16 was driving a Nissan S-body of some variety. There were no Skylines, no Toyotas, no BMWs just Nissan S-bodies. It’s crazy how such a niche line up of cars when they were released became such a amazing platforms to build these mad drift cars on.

line up

Top 16

Jack Shanahan vs Chris Burnett

BDC Champion 17 year old Jack Shanahan would be piloting his West Lake Tyres/Shanahan car sales Nissan S14 against Chris Burnett in his S13.

Jack Shanahan vs Chris Burnett 2

Shanahan would be the first to lead and had a 250-300bhp power advantage over Burnett which allowed him to pull away with ease.   Burnett peddled his car hard to try to keep up but overcooked one corner, dropping his rear wheel into the dirt and pulling his rear bumper away from the car giving Shanahan the win.

Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni vs Peden Nielsen

Sadly the first battle was cut short as Baggsy’s car shut off on track. He called 5 minutes to get the car fixed which he was able to do but the car certainly wasn’t right in the second run and Nielsen would head through to the top 8.

Shane O’Sullivan vs Paul Conlan

Shane would lead first and made a fantastic qualifying run. Conlan was on his door through the first half of the track but an over-rotation saw him lose ground and the battle.

 


Mark McBurney v Conor Shanahan

This battle I found a little confusing. McBurney had an amazing lead run and Shanahan held good proximity but lacked angle in places. I thought the advantage went to Burney in the first battle but the judges gave Shanahan the advantage. Apparently with the way they judge battles advantage can often go to the chase car.

Either way 13 year old Conor Shanahan won his spot in the great 8 easily with a great lead run that McBurney could not keep up with.

Tomas Kiely v Nigel Colfer

Another 17 year old, Tomas Kiely would go up against veteran drifter Nigel Colfer.

The first battle was a dead heat. Both drivers put down perfect runs and could not be separated. The only differing factor in the second run was that Colfer ran wide of the qualification line in one of the corners.

Anthony Galvin v Barry Leonard

A close first run with both drivers making small mistakes. Sadly Leonard’s car cuts out after the first run and despite the 5 minute rule being called he was unable to get it going again.

Mitch Larner v Gary Dunne

With 900hp Larner pulled away easily from Dunne in the first run and took a small advantage. The tables were turned in the second run though as Larner runs wide and goes off course. It was quite spectacular, Larner was able to hold his drift sliding around the outside of the corner with his rear wheels throwing up a huge cloud of dirt behind him.

Ryan Caldwell vs Brian Egan

Egan was trying to maintain a super close proximity throughout the course but got a little too close to Caldwell in one corner and punted him off line. Both maintained their drift (despite Egan’s front bumper being dragged along under the front wheels). The contact meant Caldwell had the clear advantage though and he put in a safe, conservative chase run to secure his victory.

Brian Egan vs Ryan Caldwell 2Brian Egan vs Ryan Caldwell

Top 8

Jack Shanahan vs Peden Nielsen

Jack had an amazing lead run and would have taken the advantage over Nielsen straight away if Jack’s rear window hadn’t somehow managed to fall out and right into the path of Nielsen’s car!

With the first battle determined to be equal Jack knew he had to put the pressure on and really was able to plant his door on Peden’s door the whole way around the track scoring him the victory.

Conor Shanahan vs Paul Conlan

Determined to meet his brother in the final Conor Shanahan simply sailed through his battle against Conlan. Several car lengths separated the two when Shanahan was leading and none separated them when Shanahan was chasing.

Tomas Kiely vs Anthony Galvin

A mechanical issue that developed on the start line forced Kiely to skip the pace chicane voiding the battle and allowing him to return to the pits. Sadly the issue couldn’t be fixed and Kiely had to retire allowing Galvin through to the semi-final.

Gary Dunne vs Ryan Caldwell

A scrappy set of runs from both drivers unfortunately but but it would be Dunne who would take the victory as Caldwell dropped a wheel off track in both runs.

Semi-Final

Jack Shanahan vs Conor Shanahan

The battle that quite frankly everyone wanted to see. The future of Irish drifting; Jack Shanahan and his younger brother Conor Shanahan going head to head. A combined age of 30 it’s crazy how well these two are doing for their age. Or for any age. I’m 7 years Jack’s senior and my last attempt at drifting saw me face first in a wall!

Jack Shanahan v Connor Shanahan

Quite frankly I wouldn’t have wanted to judge this one. I’ve been following drifting for about 8 years now and have seen some incredibly close battles and this was up there with the best of them. The judges saw difference though and awarded Jack the very slight advantage and the win.

Expect very big things from these two boys in the future!

Gary Dunne v Anthony Galvin

Galvin took the advantage in the first run after Dunne struggled to maintain proximity. That advantage was lost in the second run though after Galvin got a little two friendly with one of the clipping point cones. The judges could not decide a winner and we had the first and only one more time run of the day.

Galvin chose to take the chase position. The cars lined up but when the light turned green Galvin stayed where he was as he could not see the light turn green. The marshals called for a restart but Dunne did not know and carried on with the run. It’s a tricky situation as now Dunne has had a practise lap but tyres at this level of competition don’t last long. That extra lap would have had an effect on his grip.

Tensions were high all round as they left the line once more. Both put down impressive runs but it would be Anthony Galvin who would take his spot in the final!

Consilation

Conor Shanahan vs Gary Dunne

So would we see both Shanahan brothers on the podium at the first round of the Irish Drift Championship? Yes, yes we would. Gary Dunne did nothing wrong but Conor Shanahan is just so fast and aggressive. Phenomenal driving all day from 13 year old Conor.

Final

Anthony Galvin vs Jack Shanahan

It was clear that  both of these drivers were here for the victory. In the first run Galvin was chasing and did not give Shanahan an inch all the way around the track.

Shanahan would return the favour and poured the pressure onto Galvin who cracked and ran really shallow through clip 3. A close battle!

So, our podium consists of Jack Shanahan in 1st, Anthony Galvin in 2nd and Conor Shanahan in 3rd.

podium
Photo credit to IDC

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