Ireland’s Dean Kearney has scooped the Prodrift Super Series in the most dramatic fashion at a rain soaked Mondello Park. In a Top 16 bracket that could have seen the Series title go to one of 6 drivers, Kearney knew he needed to progress as far as possible in the competition and hope that his nearest rivals stumbled in their battles. But even Kearney and his team could not have predicted how this puzzle would unfold.
Entering the final round, Kearney trailed the UK’s Bon Bon by just 4 points at the sharp end of the championship table and was also mindful that a strong performance from third place Danny Eyles could also result in the title heading across the water. This meant that every point gained at Mondello Park was vital for all contenders. Things got off to a good start for Kearney. Championship leader Bon Bon was first to attack the wet Mondello course for Super Lap and was immediately caught out on the slick surface. A spin for the Driftworks Skyline resulted in a Zero point run and opened a door for Kearney to re-coup some championship ground with a haul of qualifying points. Running second in the championship, Kearney was allocated the final run in SuperLap. A solid lap consistent with his previous performances should have secured a top 4 finish, however Kearney looked uncomfortable under the conditions and delivered a sketchy run which left him just outside the points in 9th. Elsewhere Team WKD Drivers performed best, Johnny Power took pole position closely followed by team-mate Alan Sinnott, a result which effectively put these 2 drivers back in touch with the championship.
Kearney’s Top 16 battle against the Japspeed S15 of Shane Lynch got off to a troubled start. Upon leaving the dummy grid, the Maxxis Onevia developed a missfire caused by a split in an intercooler pipe. The 5 minute rule was called and bodies swarmed around Kearneys car to repair the damage. With seconds to spare, Kearney appeared on the track and took his position alongside Lynch. 2 solid runs from the Waterford driver earned the unanimous favor of the Prodrift Judges and Kearney was one step closer to the title. Elsewhere Bon Bon was out following defeat to James Deane but Eyles, Power and Sinott were still in the hunt for the optimum result.
Top 8 would see Kearney face off against old drifting buddy and top qualifier Johnny P, a match which must surely have worried the Maxxis driver. Again Kearney put nerves aside and delivered 2 runs worthy of a victory and with it took his place in the semi finals against his now biggest title rival, Danny Eyles.
Eyles had adapted well tot he Mondello track layout. Running his Japspeed S15 in wet conditions for the very first time, he found himself in the semi finals having defeated accomplished Irish drifters Alan Lenihan and Dennis Healy. Both Eyles and Kearney understood the significance of this battle, the loser would effectively surrender his claim to the Championship prize. After a closely contested first battle the judges required sudden death to determine a winner. Whilst chasing in the second run of the sudden death match , Eyles straightened on transition to Honda Corner, a mistake that would effectively end his Super Series ambitions; Kearney was through to the final.
On the other side of the draw, the WKD Corolla of Alan Sinnott had been making steady progress. The light Toyota with useful wet-weather steering angle had taken down Gavin Lenihan, Baggsy and James Deane en route to the Final. Again Kearney faced problems at the start gate and required 5minutes to repair the faults. Sinnott led in run 1 and delivered another perfect pass. Kearney however was not as consistent and made a major error. Run 2 with Kearney leading saw another mistake from the Maxxis driver when he failed to make it through turn 1. The decision was unanimous in favour of Sinnott, his first ever Prodrift Pro Class victory.
As the decision was handed down by the Prodrift Judges, Kearney remained in his car on the Mondello infield, convinced Sinnott had taken the Super Series title from him at the eleventh hour. It wasn’t until all teams and drivers reached the podium that the final outcome of the championship was determined. Sinnott had indeed, through superlap and top 16 points, propelled himself to he business end of the championship table but fell short of the ultimate prize by the narrowest of margins; 1 point.
Visibly surprised with the result, Kearney stood upon the roof of his trusty Nissan Onevia to the applause of a large hometown support. Convinced that the title had slipped through his fingers, Kearney was quick to applaud the efforts of his team throughout the season and most notably the support of fellow drivers during the Top 16 in Mondello. With podium positions at 3 out of 4 events and aided with the grip of the new Maxxis MAz1 tyre, Kearney now stands as the Prodrift Super Series Champion at just 20 years of age, the biggest achievement of this drivers career to date.