Two Cork brothers will be battling for the title when the 2022 Drift Masters European Championships (DMEC) get underway at Mondello Park, Kildare on Saturday.
Were it not for the war in Ukraine, Conor Shanahan (19), four years younger than Jack, would be competing in Russia this year in the unique form of motorsport in which the Mallow brothers are already world famous.
Conor was about to sign up for a Ukrainian team to race in the prestigious Russian Drift Series this season (which Jack won last year) until war broke out, but his car is now adorned with Stand With Ukraine stickers.
“We literally had a contract almost signed,” he revealed, explaining that after Russia invaded Ukraine he had to rush to put together a budget in time to race at the European circuit this year instead.
“I have friends (Ukrainians), so I don’t think I would go there as an athlete,” he said of the abandoned plan to race in Russia.
The Shanahans come from a Cork motorsport dynasty as their father John is a former Irish Rally Champion and their mother Valerie was the only Irish woman to win a National Auto Glass Championship.
Conor started racing when he was nine and by the age of 15 he was appearing alongside Jeremy Clarkson on the BBC motorsport show The Grand Tour to help spread the word about drifting.
He already has sponsors like Red Bull on board and is believed to be the youngest-ever European title winner after finishing second to Poland’s Piotr Wiecek last year.
He filmed video this week of himself spectacularly drifting on Molls Gap above Killarney – a place where his father often raced during the iconic Circuit of Ireland rally.
But drifting is a very different sport than his parents’.
It’s head-to-head races lasting just 30 seconds, and drivers intentionally oversteer at speeds in excess of 100mph to push their cars around sharp corners while going door-to-door with their opponents ride.
They are judged on their ability to follow a line through the course at the best speed and angle so that the winner doesn’t get past the post first.
Already the youngest driver to win professional drifting events in Europe, the UK and Ireland, the Mallow teenager is now hoping to become the youngest European champion ever.
Ireland has already established itself as a permanent fixture on the international drift scene and that will be the opening of the 2022 DMEC season at Mondello Park this weekend with qualifying on Saturday and head-to-head knock-out battles on Sunday underlined.
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DMEC calendar 2022:
7th-8th May: Ireland – Mondello Park
18-19 June: Austria – PS Racing Center
1st-2nd July: Sweden – Drivecenter Arena AB
29-30 July: Latvia – Riga Circuit
19-20 August: Germany – Ferropolis City of Iron
30 Sept-Oct 1: Poland – Moto Arena Łódź
https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/motor-sport/corks-shanahan-brothers-aiming-for-strong-start-in-2022-drift-masters-european-championships-at-mondello-park-41615486.html Cork’s Shanahan Brothers are aiming for a strong start to the 2022 Drift Masters European Championships at Mondello Park