Before I start rambling let me give you a small brief history of my drifting photography background to try and give this blog some pretext. My very first experience of drifting was at the 2012 Autosport International show in Birmingham watching Team Japspeed in the live action arena and from then on I was hooked. I have been to almost every BDC round since as well as UK rounds of Drift All Stars, various practice days and three previous trips to the Irish Drift Championship.
To be honest I didn’t think that David Egan could better the original global warfare but with Daigo Saito and Robbie Nishida bringing their own cars from Japan along with some of the best drivers that the British could muster, this was going to be a great event! Pair that with this being the final round of the Irish Drift Championship with five drivers vying for the championship title everything was still to play for.
The weeks leading up to the event were extremely hectic; a simple bolt check on the DW86 revealed that the engine had spun a shell and a full engine rebuild was required – unfortunately with a lot of the parts required coming from America we ran out of time to get the car ready and tested. Driftworks team driver Chris Smiffy stepped in and allowed Phil to borrow his Nissan S14a – not quite the V8 beast that Phil is used to but still a highly capable drift car! A few simple changes were made and the car was loaded up and ready to head to Ireland.
Ireland as ever has the most welcoming people you will meet. Walking the track between photography points I was stopped by countless spectators who thanked us for making the trip even though the DW86 was unable to attend.
Phil has not driven an SR20 powered S14 in competition for nearly eight years so the first practice session was a learning experience getting to grips with a car. It was also the first time that many of the British drivers have driven on this much faster track at Mondello.
Jack Shanahan, James Deane, Tomas Kiely and Duane Mceever were all driving amazingly well, with Tomas looking incredibly fast in his new 2JZ S14.
The drivers were pushing each other around the track from the word go – the proximity was better than the majority of the battles I have witnessed over the years.
Martin Richards was on form after winning the final round of the BDC and looked the most likely to topple the Irish reign in Ireland.
However not everyone managed to escape the practice sessions unscathed; Jack and Robbie both had engine issues that plagued the session and forced them to retire early.
Jack was offered a drive in Marcin Mucha’s 2JZ Honda S2000 but didn’t bond with the car so borrowed a fellow competitor’s 180SX instead .
In qualifying all of the drivers fighting for the championship title qualified in the top six which meant they would not face each other until the semi finals, setting us up for a spectacular finale to the season.
Phil in his borrowed S14 surprisingly qualified in 15th place, a great feat considering he was in the lowest powered car in the Pro Class.
Other British hopefuls had varying levels of success in qualifying – Martin Richards secured 7th
Mark Luney 12th
Keiland Woods 17th
Willie Rose 19th
And finally Simon Perry 24th
The rest struggled to qualify against the might of the Irish.
All of Team Achilles that made the trip from Japan also got knocked out by Irish Drivers, an anticlimax to the event some might say but all was forgotten by the end of the day.
Unfortunately Paul Conlan knocked out Phil in the Top 32 but considering this was a borrowed car we were all pleased with the result. This also allowed us the get among the crowd for the rest of the battles and soak up the atmosphere within Mondello.
Other notable battles from the top 32 included a rerun of the Richards vs Perry battle from the BDC final which Martin won once again.
15,000 people had paid to come and watch the drifting this weekend. The 800 capacity grandstand sold out within a few days – everyone else had to stand around the outside of the circuit five or six deep. It was an incredible sight.
David Egan has a natural skill in getting the crowd pumped and buzzing for the event, it was electric. He possesses a unique set of skills that many in his position would love to have. He makes the effort to keep up to date with all the drivers in between rounds and is then able to relay that information to the crowd instead of just spouting rubbish to kill time. At no point did I feel that nothing was going on and that he was just talking to fill the time.
Jack Shanahan got knocked out in the Top 32 after a one more time so he joined us in the crowd to watch the remainder of the event. We progressed through the battles slowly working our way to the semi final between James Deane and Tomas Kieley.
These two cars are very evenly matched, both 2JZ powered Nissan S14s with Wisefab and stripped back to the bare essentials. This battle was just going to be decided by driver skill and not by who has the better car.
I have never seen a drift battle like this, the crowd cheering as both cars initiated perfectly at 120kmph into the first clipping point. Both drivers followed each other’s moves perfectly, forcing two on more times with nothing splitting the drivers.
Unfortunately Tomas’ engine let go on his chase run and that brought an end to this truly epic battle. At the age of 16 (he celebrated his 16th birthday the day after the event) he is going to be a future champion for sure .
James Deane went on to win the championship for the third time, beating Team Japspeed’s Shane O’Sullivan in the final.
The entire event was incredible from start to finish – nothing has come close to an event like this for me and I’m not sure how they will top it. Formula D might now be the only event that is better than this but it does it on a much higher budget that what David Egan has achieved with the IDC. David has a great team behind him which helps massively – the guys from the Low Life Blog continue to put out great photos and write-ups live at the event to keep everyone up to date which, combined with the great videos from Josh Holdsworth, results in the IDC showing the rest of the world how to run a series.
The Irish Drift Championship is definitely the competition to be in at the moment, constantly pushing people’s expectations and raising the bar. I cannot wait to see what David can achieve next year.