2016 Irish Drift Championship: Round 2 – The Concrete Jungle – Fermoy
Words by Dave Egan, photos by Brian Walsh
Having had an explosive start to the season in Mondello Park less than a month earlier, the Irish Drift Championship returned on May 21st and 22nd for the second of its five 2016 events, this time in the Corrin Events Centre in Fermoy – the venue for last year’s fourth round, which back then, saw Paul McCarthy claim top spot and Barry Leonard take down both Jack Shanahan and James Deane.
After the extremely entertaining fourth round last year throwing up many a surprise and an action-packed first round of the 2016 season just a number of weeks prior, it was always going to be tough to see this year’s Fermoy event live up to expectations. Needless to say though, it managed to do just that and so much more, as this year’s second round will no doubt go down as the most insane IDC event in history.
Right from the off during Saturday’s Semi Pro event, drivers were pushing themselves and their cars to the absolute limit – something that proved extremely entertaining to the fans in attendance, but unfortunately for the likes of Paul Kennedy and James Spillane, it saw the end of their respective weekends after heavy hits into one of the walls placed around the track. The track was taking no prisoners this time around. One wrong move and that was the end of a driver’s weekend.
Although rain was promised in the forecast leading up to Saturday’s Semi Pro action, the clouds stayed away as we made our way from qualifying – where Gary Dunne topped the list, just ahead of Declan Byrne and Denis Murphy – all the way through Top 32, Top 16, Top 8 and onwards to the Top 4 in the Co. Cork sunshine.
As it all came to a head for the day, it was Gary Dunne who would leave with the biggest smile – and the biggest trophy too – as he not only topped qualifying, but topped the podium in first place, beating Charlie Geary in the last battle of the day. Third spot was then filled by Barry Hennessy, as he defeated Round 1’s Semi Pro winner, TJ Berney in the third and fourth place play-off battle.
With day one of Round 2 over and done with, and by all means a success, day two lay ahead, with many questions remaining: Would visiting Formula Drift driver Dai Yoshihara finally take down the undefeated streak? Would James Deane overcome mechanical issues to take the Round 2 crown? Would the weather remain in our favour? Would Jack Shanahan finally take top spot on the podium, all in front of a home crowd? We knew the answers to none of the above, but they all lay in wait, not only for us, but for every fan watching at the event and live on IDC Nation.
As practice kicked off at 9.00am on the Sunday, we were certainly hopeful, with the sun beating down on the purpose-built course and Jack Shanahan, James Deane and Dai Yoshihara all getting to grips with their cars and the circuit from early-on. Unfortunately for Christy Carpenter though, practice didn’t go as hoped as a collision with the wall at 81 km/h saw his own Westlake Tyres PS13 out of action at an early stage.
With every driver appearing to get to grips with the circuit during the morning practice, it was no wonder that we ended up with an extremely high-scoring qualifying session, as local sensation Jack Shanahan topped the list with a score of 98.67, ahead of Round 1 winner Duane McKeever with a 95.00 and Shane O’Sullivan with a 93.00.
After a showing of intent like that during both practice and qualifying, everyone was in for a treat come the battles, but then right as the Top 24 sudden death battles were about to begin and in the blink of an eye, the heavens opened like nothing we had ever seen before, absolutely soaking the track and transforming it from the course drivers were used to, into a full-on river. Not good.
The sun soon shone once again, but as the drivers attempted one run with water still lying stagnant on the track, it simply wasn’t going to be an option to carry on without the risk of ruining every car that lay in wait. What then ensued was just insane. A local street sweeper came to the rescue as it began displacing thousands of litres of water off the track, all whilst drivers, marshals and staff came together at the water’s edge to discuss possible options, all whilst the loyal IDC fans watched on in hope that the event could continue. And after an unfortunate 90 minute delay, it of course did just that!
And as if the action of the previous 90 minutes wasn’t surprising enough, Top 24 battles then saw another of our questions answered and perhaps one of the biggest upsets of the day, as advancing Semi Pro driver Charlie Geary took down Formula Drift superstar Dai Yoshihara to keep the undefeated streak alive going into Round 3, Global Warfare on July 2nd and 3rd.
The action certainly didn’t slow down as we ran through the various stages all the way to the Top 4, with James Deane’s RX7 – which had already had the head of it’s SR20 replaced before Sudden Death battles – failing catastrophically and ending in a big fire at the Top 16 stage against John McCarthy.
It was John’s turn to bow out at the Final 4 stage though, as he lost out to Duane McKeever after a smash, which saw the end of his weekend. It also robbed us of the chance to see him face off against his brother Paul to see who would get third place, as Jack Shanahan pushed past Paul for a place in the final against current points leader, Duane McKeever.
So, one question remained. Could Jack do it? He’d done so well all day long and looked almost unbeatable, but in the end, it was an unforced and unfortunate error on his own, on the first corner of his first run in the final that would see the battle go Duane McKeever’s way and make it two for two in 2016 for the Northern Smoke Machine.
With two rounds now under our belt in the 2016 Irish Drift Championship, the standings look as follows for both classes heading into Round 3 in July:
– 1 – TJ Berney – 85 pts.
– 2 – Gary Dunne – 80 pts.
– 3 – Charlie Geary – 74 pts.
– 4 – Kieran Casey – 65 pts.
– 1 – Duane McKeever – 100 pts.
– 2 – Jack Shanahan – 71 pts.
– 2 – Shane O’Sullivan – 71 pts.
– 4 – Paul McCarthy – 69 pts.
So with the undefeated streak still alive after all these years, our next event will surely be the biggest challenge to the streak to date, as a big-name and big-power grid of Drift Allstars drivers make their way to Mondello Park on July 2nd and 3rd for Global Warfare 3 with one aim in mind.
Can they do it, or will a mixture of Irish youth and experience come up trumps once again? Nobody knows the answer yet, but make sure you get down to Mondello Park to check out the biggest and best Global Warfare to date.
Tickets are now available from the Mondello Park website here, or call the Mondello Park office on 045 860 200 to book. Can’t make it in person? Make sure you’re tuned in to the official live stream, only on IDC Nation at www.idcnation.com.