James Deane and Jack Shanahan – final run.
Only ever watching the Irish Drift Championship (IDC) on live stream, to be honest I respected the competitors but didn’t really get the sport. I understood the mechanics of what went on trackside but as for the detail it took to succeed, I was ignorant.
It was time to immerse myself in a day-long education session at the IDC round 5 event at Mondello Park yesterday. The IDC stood along ‘JapFest’, an enthusiast’s gathering of all sorts of cars from Japan. The combined events ensured the biggest crowd I have witnessed at the Kildare based venue.
My focus on the day was to get a perspective of what drifting was about. Arriving at the track, my first impression was the scale of following the sport has. The sport attracted all ages of people, both sexes and a lot of them wearing IDC branded merchandise. Indeed, this was an extremely well branded machine.
After talking to the guys at the IDC media centre and getting the do’s and don’ts of on track etiquette, I signed on and travelled through the crowds, camera in hand to find out what this was all about. My intention was to stay for a couple of hours, take a few shots and leave discreetly, as I had convinced myself that the hype came from the IDC marketing machine. Alas no, I was captured by the onslaught of power and aggression that hit the track. As the 32 competitors launched their machines one by one through on-track disciplines being scored by a panel of judges, the noise of the 700+bhp engines, the screeching of the protesting tyres and the smell of the burning rubber was an assault on the senses. When I witnessed the inch perfect control the drivers had on these super powerful machines I was, to say the least, impressed.
So, I had had witnessed all that drifting could offer. Again no!!! The field was judged on their solo run and whittled down to the final 16. Now the real excitement was to unfold as the competitors were paired off to battle back to back on a two-run shootout to find the final eight. These then battled in the same format to find the final four and so on to find a winner. There was absolutely no quarter given from the battling drivers as they challenged each other and pounced on any weakness, while an air of respect for the skills of their rivals was apparent.
A sample of the talented competitors
As the winner was announced following a third run, as the two competing protagonists of this drama were tied on points following the two runs, the crowds gave a standing ovation. The screeching of tyres was now replaced by the screaming of a packed venue.
Drivers applaud the crowds.
World star, from Cork, James Deane took the victory from Jack Shanahan with 17-year-old Tomás Kiely, who is still at school, took the final place on the podium.
The crowds appreciate the drivers as the head to combat.
For me, the real star of the day was the show. The competitors, the brand and the fantastic commentary that enhanced an enthralling experience. These were just some of the combined elements that ensured this will not be my last visit to the IDC. A fantastic “well done” from me. Thanks for facilitating Topgear.ie on our first live IDC experience.