The Drift Masters European Championship returns to Mondello Park this weekend for the first time in four years.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on DMEC, but luckily we’re on the other side and drifting is back with a bang.
60 drivers from 28 countries will take part for the first round of the 2022 season at Kildare circuit.
Millions worldwide will tune in to Red Bull TV to follow the action, but it’s been far too long since fans here have seen the riders battle live in front of their eyes at Mondello Park.
All of Ireland will be represented.
Northern Fog Machine Duane McKeever will bring the heat and noise in his RB26 powered Nissan S13.
And from the other end of Ireland comes Cork native James Deane, aka The Machine, who will be bringing his fantastic 2JZ 900hp 2JZ powered BMW E92 Eurofighter back to Mondello.
Also from Cork are Shanahan brothers Jack and Conor, who will both drive similar 2JZ powered Toyota GT86 drift cars – and both are more than capable of winning like Conor in 2018.
Also, last year Conor finished second behind Piotr Wiecek and Jack took third place on the podium.
Born in Poland, Wiecek will arrive at Mondello with his 1,000hp Worthhouse Drift Nissan Sivlia S15 and his backup practice S15 should he experience any mechanical failures.
Drift Masters will also have nine wild card drivers and they are all from Ireland, Kevin Quinn, Blaine Rafferty, Alan Delaney, Alan Hynes, Terence Furey, Stephen Fitzgerald, Tomás Kiely, Conor Falvey and his father Tomás Falvey.
Conor Falvey, just 14 years old, will be driving his immaculate S15 Silvia, which is fitted with the six-cylinder RB25 engine from a Nissan Skyline and produces around 500hp.
Falvey recently competed in the Monster Energy, The Stages, event, but this will be his first time competing in a drifting event of this caliber.
I met Red Bull driver Conor in Mondello yesterday as he demonstrated the new livery on his GT86.
He said: “Our aim this year is to fight for the Championship and I can’t wait to open the season in Ireland. There are at least 15 riders who can win so I have to push really hard but I really want to beat Piotr as I lost to him in the final last year.”
“I have yet to win an Irish Drift Masters event in front of my home crowd and it would be nice to start the season with a bang and a win,” he added.
Conor is so happy with the setup of his GT86 that he hasn’t changed any suspension settings as the car drives perfectly.
His team installed a freshly built 3.0-liter single-turbo Toyota 2JZ engine, which is one of the most popular engines in drifting due to its reliability and ability to withstand a lot of stress.
Also new are his tyres, Conor switched from Westlake to Valino with 235/40 R18 front and new wider 285/40 R18 rear tyres.
Speaking of the tire change, he said: “One of the reasons we struggled last year was not running on the right tyres. Piotr Wiecek walked away with the lead but this year my brother Jack and I have the same tyres, so we have the same tyres, shoot him this season.”
“Drifting is a sport where things can go wrong, it’s not like racing where you can fix a mistake the next lap. When drifting, it is won or lost in 30 seconds. When you’re on the starting line with the whole nation watching there can be a lot of pressure as you have so little time to try to advance to the next round or win the event.”
It’s been two years since Conor signed with Red Bull and he explained a little of what life has been like since joining: “Riding as an athlete can be very different as you put a lot of pressure on yourself. But I’m a very competitive person, but I always want to be as good as possible.”
“The most important thing for me is that you can’t rush it. It’s like a jigsaw and it will come together eventually. Last year was a fantastic year for me but the year before that wasn’t that good. So I was kind of glad that to end the year on a high and start building my confidence for this year.”
“I think it was a really good foundation to focus on winning the DMEC and it would be my first time doing that. I would probably be the youngest in history to do it, but this is my last year trying to break that record and put it in the history books.”
“But there are so many good drivers, James Deane, Piotr Wiecek who won the championship last year and even my own brother who had such a successful season last year. So there are a lot of riders I have to beat to win, not just this event but the whole championship.”
Conor also took his GT86 to zip around the Mondello car park and show the assembled press his new livery in action
Check out the video below….
In his off-season, Conor has been very busy, not only did he get seats on the track, but he also took his GT86 to the Ring of Kerry to shoot a very special video with Red Bull.
Along Ireland’s rugged Atlantic west coast and at the very edge of Europe, 18-year-old Shanahan embarks on a fast-paced, boundless journey through the Ring of Kerry.
The video, shot by Red Bull, shows young Conor drifting and sliding his 800hp GT86 in the pouring rain.
But that’s not all, as he had to contend with stagnant water and fog while gliding through the infamous twisty roads of Moll’s Gap.
He’ll stop at spectacular Ladies View for a quick “donut” before heading out into the green, fog and haze.
If you look at the footage on board you can see how much he is at one with his Toyota.
He doesn’t fight with the car but is in full control, despite the fact that one small mistake and he’ll end up in a wall or worse.
Conor’s mother and father were also heavily involved in motorsport and his father John won several rally titles including one at this circuit in Moll’s Gap.
And his mother Valerie is the only Irish woman to have won a National Auto Glass Championship.
But not only on Sunday is drifting.
Mondello also sees the return of Modified Live, where Drift Games will bring together the best automotive crews, clubs, brands and trade stands with 250 handpicked show cars.
In order to attend, tickets must first be purchased online at mondellopark.ie as there is no option to purchase tickets on either day of the weekend.
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/8745046/drift-masters-european-championship-returns-to-mondello-park-on-may-7-8/ The Drift Masters European Championship is back with a bang