There’s a real sense of purpose in the paddock at Mondello Park in Ireland for the final round of the 2019 Drift Masters European Championship. The nationality of this season’s champion might already have been decided at the previous round in Germany, but far from feeling like a victory lap for the Irish front runners, who are on home soil no less, there’s an unusual amount of tension in the air.
The elephant in the room is the strong chance of a non-Irish winner this weekend, with drivers from Great Britain, Poland, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Germany (to name but a few) whom will be vying to spoil the party for James Deane, Duane McKeever, Jack Shanahan & Co.
You would be forgiven for thinking that despite competing under the same flag, the top three Irish drivers in the championship would be prepared to put their rivalries aside in order to protect their renowned undefeated streak (no non-Irish driver has ever won a professional drift event in Ireland in the history of the sport) but that will be far from the case.
As come later this evening, only one champion can be crowned, so you can expect to see every driver throw caution to the wind and fight for their own position in the history books. As the saying goes, fortune favours the brave.
So, while we’re guaranteed an Irish champion today, there’s no guarantee as to who it will be and there’s certainly no predicting who will take the event win. All eyes are on Mondello Park this afternoon…
Wet conditions have dominated so far, providing a troublesome and always changing line as the course goes from wet to dry and back again. Conor Shanahan, after a weak first run, would take top spot in qualifying followed by Elias Hountondji and Duane McKeever.
There was no shortage of drama this morning either. Australia’s Mitch Larner would score two zeroes in qualifying and was eliminated before the Top 32 got underway. Championship leader James Deane suffered a scare after a zero on his first run, but was ultimately able to lay down a run which would see him qualify 8th.
Top 16 action commences at 1:30PM GMT and as always, can be enjoyed on the livestream on the Drift Masters European Championship website, the Drift Masters Facebook page, or on Red Bull TV.