The rallycross dust has settled and the plumes of tyre smoke have dissipated from Mondello Park and we can finally say that the off-season is no more. From rules changes to alliances with Formula D and Drift Masters, it’s been a busy couple of months behind the scenes preparing for the biggest year in Irish drift history and on April 21st and 22nd, the Kildare circuit once again roared back into life.
2018 marks an anniversary year for the Irish Drift Championship (IDC) as we embark on the 15th year of competitive drifting and it is only when you step back and see where the sport has come from at the start with very small humble beginnings and progressed into what can only be described as one of the largest homegrown motorsport followings in Ireland.
Come the start of spring each year, the peaceful county Kildare circuit was once again awash with the sound of 4, 6, 8 cylinder engines screaming at full tilt chat but this time around, it was going to be a little different as the drifters would have to contest the circuit with the Irish Rallycross Championship. The two motorsport disciplines have seen explosive growth in recent years due to the high impact, fast-paced, on the edge nature and would introduce a whole new breed of fans to the sport of drifting.
For drivers, Round 1 will always be filled with pride, mixed with a severe lack of sleep and anxiety as they present to the masses what they have been toiling away all those miserable winter nights on. Stone Motorsport would once again break the mould and debut one of the most insane s-chassis’ that the IDC has ever seen. A Honda K24 engine sits deep into a Nissan Silvia S15 that has gone under more weight loss than a bride before her big day.
But building one of the most insane cars on the grid from a bare shell in a matter of weeks or months is always going to come with teething issues and with minimal time and testing, sometimes those issues rear their ugly head at the worst possible time. Some drivers will always stick to the mantra of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
With rallycross and drifting sharing any and all precious track time over the weekend, Saturday for the first time be Pro-Am only affair meaning that Pro’s would have to use their practice wisely come Sunday morning. Irish drifting in recent years has proven on the international stage that we have what it takes to dominate, with UK, European and World Champions all calling Ireland home and that all stems from the quality of the grassroots and Pro-Am competition.
One man blazing a trail through the Pro-Am competition in both Ireland and the UK is Northern Irish driver Lee Scott. The Irish Amateur Drift Champion has bided his time in recent years and has stepped away from competition to make sure his BMW E46 with a newly transplanted RB powered heart could withstand the pressure of competition and Scott has looked as confident as ever behind the wheel in Round 1 of the 2018 Irish and British Drift Championship.
Scott would already for the second time in 2018 take top spot on the Pro-Am podium but in the worst twist of faith would be unable to compete in the Pro competition after his extensive progress in back to back events in both UK and Irish competition had dried up any stockpile of tyres and supplies they had harvesting for the season but we’re sure Scott and the team are quickly regrouping and preparing for another onslaught come Drift on the Docks 2 in only a matter of weeks.
Stepping into Sunday’s battle action it was once again another Northern Irishman with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Coming into the weekend, two-time IDC Pro champion Duane McKeever was praying that the mechanical issues that have cursed him in previous years would not rear their head once again and with Friday practice under his belt, things were looking good. It’s safe to assume that he had Richard Bradley on speed dial at any moment if anything was to happen.
McKeevers greatest rival, 2017 Pro Champion Jack Shanahan was having issues of his own with the 2JZ engine of his championship-winning S14 only being installed late Thursday evening before arriving to a shorten practice period. Not the start to the season that the reigning champion would have liked but don’t count Shanahan out just yet as he’s plenty left in the tank and lest not forget that he did claim the top spot at Dun Laoghaire Harbour last season.
Kick-starting the 15th year of competitive drifting also means the undefeated streak on Irish soil is definitely still intact but one man that has now consistently come the closest to taking that throne is Australian Mitch Larner. The Aussie native is back for his second full competitive season of the IDC and definitely become a fan favourite in the meantime. His no holds barred style aggressive style has in the past pushed his limits and beyond meaning, he would rule himself out of the fight due to an error or worse, contact. Mitch seems to have taken this onboard and formulated a new strategy coming into 2018, and while his door on door style is definitely still present, he now knows the limits and where he can push his V8 powered PS13 and that he did as he finished the weekend with 3rd place on the podium.
While everyone was focusing on 2017 Pro Champion Jack Shanahan, it was his younger brother Conor Shanahan that was stepping out of his smoke trail and carving his own path for the start of his Pro-Rookie campaign. The 14-year-old schoolboy hits the books during the day but come the weekend is an internationally recognisable face with the results to back it up. Conor finished 3rd in the BDC Pro and in the Top 10 in IDC standing last season (all while being a Pro-Am). Conor would end the Round 1 weekend on second place of the podium and we’re sure that top spot is calling his name whether it be in Ireland or abroad.
Come the end of the weekend, it was once again clear to the see that the Northern Irish invasion is upon us as Duane McKeever tops his second podium of 2018 and the top of both the Pro-Am and Pro have been locked out by drivers from across the border. If McKeever can keep those pesky mechanical issues that have hampered his progress previously at bay, we may be looking at the first person to ever win both the Irish and British Drift Championships in the same year.
With Drift on the Docks 2 only a matter a weeks away, and limited Saturday grandstand and weekend standing tickets left you need to be in Dún Laoghaire Harbour for IDC Round 2 on May 26th and 27th to see who can claim top spot on the MTEC Brakes podium at one of the most picturesque drift events in Irish history!