After what was undoubtedly the most entertaining season of the Drift Masters European Championship to date, it was a dream night for Irish driver Conor Shanahan in front of 53,000 adoring Drift Masters fans at the PGE Narodowy in Warsaw, Poland, as he would not only take the win at the World’s biggest drift event, but would also take home the biggest prize in European drifting by becoming our 2023 Drift Masters European Championship champion as we closed out the championship in style.
After 6 title contenders entered the arena at the start of the weekend, with Conor Shanahan, Lauri Heinonen, Jack Shanahan, Juha Rintanen, Piotr Wiecek & Duane McKeever all set to fight it out for top honours, Shanahan would end up the one heading back to his native Ireland the happiest, taking home the win on the night and in the championship overall.
Having taken fifth place in our final Qualifying session of the season yesterday, Shanahan would have to fight his way through a stacked grid of drivers, none of whom would make it easy for him to take home top honours. Namely, he would have to take down Finnish driver Mika Keski-Korpi during Top 32, before going head-to-head with Polish wildcard driver, David Sposób in the Top 16.
Shanahan would then see himself go up against (and ultimately take down) an on-form Portuguese driver, Diogo Correia, to set up a Final 4 battle against Polish driver, Pawel Korpulinski.
It all came down to this – Shanahan vs. Korpulinski. A battle to decide the championship. If Shanahan won, he would be champion and if Korpulinski won, Lauri Heinonen could technically still take home the title if he won the final. 2 incredible runs later and still, it couldn’t be decided. We would be going to a one more time and the fight was still on!
Then it was Heinonen’s chance to keep his title hopes alive. He would face Czech driver, Marco Zakouril in the Top 4. If he won, he could still win the championship, but if he lost he would hand the title to Shanahan. On this occasion though, the title fight would continue on as Heinonen proved too strong for Zakouril, keeping Shanahan’s nerves at an all time high and Lauri’s focus more intense than ever.
And then, it was time. Shanahan vs. Korpulinski again. We couldn’t go one more time again. We must decide a winner of the battle. And 2 runs later, we did just that …
Shanahan would manage to settle his own nerves once and for all to take down the Polish fan-favourite Korpulinski – who would go on to take third place at the event – to clinch the championship title in a flurry of emotion, meaning he had already done everything he needed to do before setting up a dream finale with his closest championship contender, Lauri Heinonen.
And much to the delight of the record-breaking crowd in attendance and those of you watching along online on Red Bull TV, with the title fight already decided, both Shanahan and Heinonen would throw caution to the wind and give the fans every bit of what they wanted to see, by putting on a final to rival all before it, to round out the most incredible drifting spectacle we have ever witnessed. A final which Shanahan would win, to give him the perfect end to the perfect season.
However, despite not taking home the event win on the night, Finnish driver Heinonen would still take second place on both the event and season podiums to round out his best ever season in Drift Masters, much to the delight of the travelling Finnish fans.
Heinonen’s fellow Finnish man Juha Rintanen would round out our overall season podium taking third place, ahead of our 2022 champion, Piotr Wiecek in fourth, Irishman Jack Shanahan in fifth and fellow Irish driver Duane McKeever in sixth.
Ladies and gentlemen, Drift Masters fans – Wherever you are in the World, thank you all for tuning in to not only this, the World’s biggest drift event, but to our incredible 2023 season. We’ve loved every second of our most entertaining season to date and we cannot wait to share what we have in store for 2023 with you. See you all again soon.
Final 2023 Top 5 Championship Standings:
– Conor Shanahan (IRL) – 459 pts.
– Lauri Heinonen (FIN) – 415 pts.
– Juha Rintanen (FIN) – 359 pts.
– Piotr Wiecek (POL) – 341 pts.
– Jack Shanahan (IRL) – 328 pts.