A sun-drenched weekend set the scene for Prodrift’s first time in the capital city at the Citywest Exhibition Centre for Round 3 of the Irish series. Expectations were high for this event, as fans and drivers alike were eagerly anticipating what was on offer, and for all involved it did not disappoint.
I promised Ian and the guys at Prodrift that I'd try and put my experiences at Round 3 of the Prodrift Irish Series at Citywest into words for the Motorcheck blog. It's not as easy as you might imagine and I wasn't surprised when I found out later that Sunday morning was considered one of the best drift events ever witnessed in Ireland.
I suppose I could try and describe the adrenaline rush that comes from the sounds of the high powered engines, screeching tyres and the highly enthusiastic crowd. The thick smell of burning rubber needs to be mentioned for sure but how do I even begin to describe the skill of the drivers who manage to score points by literally licking the barriers and markers that have been laid out on a very tight track.
Thank God for Video! The short clip below demonstrates some of the action that I witnessed up close and personal on the day. I'd highly recommend the Prodrift event as a great day out for petrol-heads and racing enthusiasts alike. Just be sure not to get behind the wheel of the family saloon for at least an hour afterwards!
A highly technical custom-built track, tested driver skill and ability to the max, with a few casualties claimed by the safety barriers over the course of the weekend. The Citywest venue saw the return of a number of big names to the Irish drift scene, crowd favourite Dennis Healy returned to competitive action in his SR20 Corolla, and was seriously impressive with his
massive entries and speed, current Prodrift champion Dean “Karnage” Kearney (www.deankearney.com) made a welcome return to Irish drifting, taking time out from his ventures in the USA competing in Formula Drift and currently aiming for “Rookie of the year” to drive the www.motorcheck.ie Toyota Soarer while Eric O Sullivan’s (www.ericosullivan.com) highly anticipated return in his Toyota Corolla was marred by car issues, thus retiring from competition.
The addition of Team Japspeed drivers, Boyzone’s Shane Lynch, Danny Eyles, Steve “Baggsy” Biagioni, and Anthony Cahill, alongside Falken Tyres Paul Chesire from the UK, upped the standard for what promised to be an epic weekend for Irish drifting.
Sunday morning qualifying set the standard on what was to be one of the best drift events ever witnessed in Ireland. Team Japspeed’s Danny Eyles topped the Top 16 pre-qualifying with a near flawless score of 97.67 while Dean “Karnage” Kearney answered his critics by placing the Motorcheck.ie Soarer firmly in 2nd position with a substantially faster speed than any of the Top 16 qualifiers. Championship leader Wexford man Nigel Colfer qualified in 4th, followed by James Deane in his Nexen srx7 in 5th. Shock exits from the competition at this stage included Dennis Healy, Alan Lenihan and Shane Lynch, as the track proved to be a real challenge for several big name drivers. Pro-Am runner up on Saturday, Chris Brady, upped his challenge for the honours and was the only one of the 4 Saturday competitors to advance to the Top 16 Superlap.
The Superlap round, which determines the order of the Top 16 battles along with scoring championship points, really put drivers to the test.
Danny Eyles topped the leader board for the majority of the Superlap, but eventually finished in 3rd behind Shane O'Sullivan in 2nd, a driver who has massively upped his game this year, and the ever impressive James Deane who took the top spoils with the highest score of the day. The battles were set and the crowd was primed for some amazing twin battle pairings and they were not to be disappointed.
First up was James Deane versus Donal Garry aka “Banzai Corolla Guy”, another huge crowd favourite, in one of the battles of the day. The underpowered Corolla gave the young Nexen driver a real run for his money, but Deane advanced to the Great 8. Championship leader Nigel Colfer was up next against the UK’s Paul Chesire, another driver who was to impress with massive entries over the weekend. But it was Colfer’s consistency that saw him advance to join Deane in the first of the Great 8 battles. Team Hankook’s Alan Sinnott did enough to overcome the challenge of the always entertaining Dan Moorehead, and set up a Great 8 battle with Nexen’s Christy Carpenter who had came through his Top16 battle with last years Pro-Am champion Mike Fitzgerald in his Bridgestone Silvia.
Danny Eyles was again impressive, easily disposing of Dean “Karnage” Kearney who could not seem to maintain the standards of his qualifying runs in a heavily underpowered machine. This set up the 3rd of the Great 8 pairings as 2009 Champion Mike Deane advanced from his battle with Micheal Swan. The final battles of the Top 16 saw Pro-Am driver Chris Brady, one to watch in the remaining rounds, advance over Steven Bolger and in doing so set up the final Great 8 pairing with Gavin Lenihan who knocked Shane O Sullivan out in an impressive display of aggressive driving.
James Deane and Nigel Colfer, having met in the final of Round 1 and the semi-final of Round 2, were first up in the Great 8 battles. Colfer, on this occasion, had no answer to the young Nexen driver, who was the first to advance to the semi-finals with an awesome display. Sinnott versus Deane’s Nexen team mate Christy Carpenter in his immaculate BN Sports kitted S15 followed, and the crowd saw Sinnott advance in a display of extreme tyre smoke and driver skill. Mike Deane advanced over Japspeed’s Danny Eyles, whose weekend was cut short after losing 3rd gear mid first battle; he put in a brave performance to come back out for the second battle but did not do enough to challenge the elder statesmen of Irish drifting in his Lakeland Tyres Nissan. The final Great 8 battle saw Chris Brady take on Gavin Lenihan, and the crowd showed their delight in the young Monaghan driver taking the battle, thus moving onto the semi finals with some of the biggest names in Irish drifting.
The first of the semi-finals was one of the battles of the round, as Deane took on Sinnott, another driver who has been a huge favourite amongst crowds this year in his cult Hankook Corolla. First corner contact proved the deciding factor and Deane took the victory. The second semi-final saw the elder of the Deane brothers, Mike, take on one of the most consistent drivers of the round, Chris Brady who seemed to be on track for the majority of the weekend! It took a one more time for Mike to take the win and set up an all Deane final, one which had yet to be seen this year.
The eagerly anticipated 3rd/4th place battle, saw Sinnott take his 3rd podium finish of the year, as Brady, had to settle for 4th place in only his 2nd ever Prodrift competition, and hopefully not his last.
The final was a tight affair as the Deane brothers battled it out to take the Round win. However James Deane was not to be stopped, as he took the victory with relative ease, putting in a huge display of on-door driving with his older brother. The win saw James take his second victory of the series, and puts him in 9 points clear of Nigel Colfer going into the final 2 rounds of this year.
Japfest at Mondello will host Round 4 of this year’s Series, and it’s still all to play for with a number of drivers still in contention for the honours. Deane leads the pack yet again but with Colfer and Sinnott biting at his heels, its going to be a blistering finish to this year’s championship.