As many of you may already know, Ireland is not known for its sporting prowess, but what we lack in ability can certainly be made up for with spades of hope. Sometimes even blind hope. We consistently get behind the latest World Cup, Olympics or Golf spectacular that we have an outside chance of contesting. We pour all of our hopes and dreams into what could be and when we regularly stumble, we seek to find the next big thing.
But one genre that never seems to find the limelight or the attention it may deserve is Irish motorsport. Regardless of the discipline, on the surface, it may seem like we don’t even turn up or fathom it exists to the general public.
But with many motorsports on the Emerald Isle looking like they’re stepping into a downturn, the future is bright in the grassroots and youth of Irish drifting. With high numbers coming through the ranks and the quality of driving we regularly see on the track, future champions are undoubtedly in the making.
The 2017/18 MicksGarage.com Irish Amateur Drift Championship is now complete and following its third year in operation, competing drivers hoped to join names such as 2017 IDC Pro-Am champion Conor Shanahan, IDC Pro driver Alan Hynes, IADC 2016/17 champion Ryan Morton and 2018 BDC Pro-Am Round 1 winner Lee Scott on their way to the Irish Drift Championship.
The 2017/18 season was finally allowed to draw to a close following some much-needed relief from Mother Nature, and it looked like drivers and spectators would be rewarded for their patience as Mondello Park was set to be bathed in the ever precious sunlight that had avoided the country for weeks and months.
For a select few at the start of the season, the championship title was their goal and the rest would battle it out for an Irish Drift Championship (IDC) Pro-Am license. Ahead of Round 4, it was announced that due to the allocation of available licences, the top 25 drivers in the IADC standings come the end of the season would be on their way to join the IDC grid in April and it breathed life back into the paddock for drivers that had thought their season was already over, who would now have a chance to fight another day.
Coming into IADC Round 4, one man lead the charge to take the top spot in the championship standings. Team Dealtwidth youngster Dylan Garvey was 22 points above his nearest rival Graham Holden, and with an IDC Pro-Am license all but guaranteed, his eyes were firmly set on joining Lee Scott and Ryan Morton as IADC Champions.
Further down the standings though, it was a different story. Drivers on the cusp of the 25th place cut off found themselves bunched and separated only by a single point. Qualification to the Top 32 was a necessity and battling as far as you can into the bracket would be the only way to assure themselves a license.
Enter stage left, Kevin Kilgarriff was a man in exactly that position. With the only diesel-powered vehicle on the IDC or IADC grid, commentators Mike Fitz and Neil Dunne could be heard saying that he may have been trying to elect a new Pope, because you really never knew whether you would be seeing black or white smoke from the rear of his E46. Kilgarriff, however, would channel his inner James Deane in Qualification, smashing out a jaw-dropping run that left the commentators and judges alike speechless earning him a 95.92 for his efforts, which left him standing firmly atop the qualifying order.
Notably from qualifying also, Dylan Garvey was staking his claim on the championship early on as he ended the session in 2nd place with a 91.92, but he wasn’t going to have an easy day in the office as closest rival Graham Holden would keep the pressure on and follow him in 3rd place with a 90.50.
Entering the Top 32 and judging from Garvey’s performances all season, the title was all but signed, sealed and delivered. Graham Holden and Andy Keys would have to progress into the Great 8 or further and Garvey exit the competition earlier than he had all season for it to be a 3 horse race.
Garvey would move through his Top 32 battle with Nathan Corcoran and step into face Aidan Dennehy in the Top 16. All the Dealtwidth driver had to do was win this battle and the title was his, regardless of the results of his nearest rivals. But in the biggest shock of the day, Garvey would bow out of competition in the Top 16 and the decision of whether he would be the 2018 MicksGarage.com IADC Champion was now left in someone else’s hands.
The only saving grace of Garvey’s 2nd place in qualification and progression to the Top 16 was that 3rd place in the standings, Andy Keys, was now mathematically unable to catch him in the race for the title. It was now down to just Wexford native, Graham Holden to take down Garvey. Holden, however, was suffering mechanical issues, which would see his gear shifter simply slot completely out of the car and into his hand as he shifted from 2nd to 3rd; an issue that would now rear its head at the most inopportune time to see him step out of competition at the Top 8.
As Garvey waited with bated breath on the sideline for the decision, in the end, it was to be his day and he was crowned the 2017/18 MicksGarage.com Irish Amateur Drift Championship champion, surrounded by his family and friends including older brother David Garvey, who had loaned him his car for much of the season to help him get back on track and secure the title.
Back on track, all was not finished as the podium was still to be decided. After some extremely hard fought battles, it would be Andy Keys ending on the top spot of the podium after a second place finish at each of the 2 previous rounds, followed by Conor Ffrench in 2nd, with Ben Galbraith rounding off the podium after an epic battle with Blaine Rafferty.
As the curtains close on the MicksGarage.com Irish Amateur Drift Championship for another year and the Top 25 drivers now prepare for the onslaught that is the 2018 Irish Drift Championship, it’s time to look back and reflect on what was certainly not an “amateur” year of drifting. Such is the quality of the driving shown, that drivers making the step up to the IDC’s Pro-Am class in less than 2 weeks time will not only be competing, but will definitely be contesting for silverware right from the off.
Looking ahead to the 2018/19 IADC season, with 25 drivers moving onto the Pro-Am class of the IDC, we can’t wait to lay eyes on the amazing talent that will inevitably filter through into the IADC in the coming season of Ireland’s premier amateur drift series.
Until then, however, it’s time to see just how far the 25 drivers who are advancing to the Pro-Am class of the Irish Drift Championship get on, when the 2018 season kicks off at IDC Round 1 in Mondello Park in less than 2 weeks’ time. Make sure you get your tickets NOW from the Mondello Park website and secure your grandstand seat before it’s too late!