A hurricane hit Mondello Park at the weekend, rocking the very heart of Ireland’s number one motorsport venue. But this wasn’t due to the forces of nature at play; this was the high-velocity vortex created by the coming together of the world’s biggest drifting super powers, who had decided that Round 3 of the Irish Drifting Championship would be battle ground for an unprecedented global match up.
The list of contenders contained the best drifters from Ireland, the best from Europe and the best that the World had to offer. The organisers of the Irish series managed to convince Formula Drift Round 1 runner-up, Alex Heilbrunn to come over from his native Peru to take on the latest batch of rising homespun heroes.
They also managed to attract Enver Haskasap all the way from from Cyprus, Andrius Vasiliauskas from Lithuania, Dutch driving ace Sebastian Fontijn as well as current Finish champion Juha Pöytälaakso with 1000bhp on tap in his E92 BMW.
Steve Will traveled across the Irish Sea with his turbocharged E36 BMW and was joined by the hard charging Welshman Oliver Evans in a Nissan S14 to name a few whilst the furthest traveled award went to Mitch Larner all the way from Australia to compete in Ireland.
All eyes for me were on those who honed their skill in the north many years ago in much lesser machinery such as sideways veteran Paul Conlan, engine builder Richard Bradley and current Irish Champ Duane McKeever – all from the Dungannon area, Joe Doyle from the Magherafelt area and let’s not forget history maker – Mark McBurney from Broughshane.
Global Warfare 4 was hyped pre-event to an extent that I felt I was obliged to travel to Mondello Park on Sunday to cover the pro-event and as such witness if the Emerald Isle could hold onto their 13 year unbeaten streak to make it 14 years of dominance over the world on home turf.
With a brand new track layout for this event it was impossible to predict the podium as everyone on the grid left the start-line with absolutely no experience on the course provided other than practice over the previous days. This course was designed on purpose by the organisers to make sure no-one had an unfair advantage heading into battle.
After laying some new tarmac pre-event, the new track took advantage of the sweeping curves of the Mondello International race circuit, with three devilishly placed concrete walls for good measure and a total of 13, yes 13 clipping points – enough to be unlucky to some during the day.
After a parade lap of the top 32 cars post-qualifying where by fans got to meet and greet the teams and drivers on the rubber clad tarmac of the Kildare circuit it was straight into battle with Duane McKeever progressing easily after a spin from Sean Galvin on the second run.
Nigel Colfer was up next against the UK’s Ollie Evans but with a lack of oil pressure and an engine about to expire Colfer gave it everything though it was advantage Evans going into the second run and it wasn’t to be for Colfer as he backed out mid run, I imagine due to engine woes.
Australia’s Mitch Larner now faced Cypriot Enver Haskasap and after a tight first run a few mistakes from Larner on the second run allowed Haskasap to progress whilst Peden Nelson progressed easily due to Keilan Woods’ car having mechanical failure on the start line.
Paul Conlan gained an advantage over current IDC Championship Leader Jack Shanahan on the first run but a hard charging Shanahan progressed after a very tight second run. Alex Heilbrunn would be forgiven for thinking he was sure to progress into the top 16 against Charlie Geary but it wasn’t to be.
Despite being majorly underpowered in his E36 estate, Geary took advantage into the second run and after a spin from Alex at Mobil 1 corner it was Geary to progress. Frenchman Jerome Vassia couldn’t do anything to stop the wrath of Richard Bradley who took a convincing win in battle.
Tomas Kiely got T-Boned by Steve Will at Mobil 1 bend and as such took an easy victory after the second run whilst Norwegian Fredrik Øksnevad progressed after Joe Doyle spun on the first run and despite a monumental chase run couldn’t force Fredrik into a mistake on run two.
Aurimas Vaškelis from Lithuania in his fierce E30 BMW faced Bas Mul from Holland and after one hell of a battle it was the Lithuanian who would proceed. Anthony Galvin had no chance against Finish Champion Juha Pöytälaakso due to a split manifold and as such no boost but he gave it a go.
German champion Marcel Uhlig had an advantage over Gary Dunne going into the second run but couldn’t keep on his chase run and after straightening at the hairpin Dunne progressed.
Dutch driver Sebastian Fontijn was almost inseparable from Brian Eagan after the first run but Eagan chased hard to progress whilst Chris Brady’s rear tyre exploded through a dip in clip 2 giving Barry Leonard the win after a faultless second run.
It was an easy victory for Shane O’Sullivan after a spin from Mike Fitz and it was time for the top 16 battles to commence with Duane McKeever facing Ollie Evans. Having been pushed onto the grass in run one by Evans, McKeever took an easy step into the great 8.
Peden Nelson ran off the track at clip 2 giving Enver Haskasap full advantage which Haskasap took with open arms to drive his way to victory after the second run. Andrius Vasiliauskas from Lithuania in his E46 BMW had a phenominal chase drive against Jack Shanahan however on run two the pressure got to Vasiliauskas as he span at Mobil 1 bend handing the win to Shanahan.
Next up and Richard Bradley overtook Charlie Geary at Mobil 1 bend however things took a major twist on the second run as Bradley came into the hairpin too fast and had a major impact with the tyres forcing his out and Geary the underdog could not believe his luck.
Tomas Kiely fought hard with Fredrik Øksnevad to progress whilst a smoke screen was created around Mondello by Aurimas Vaškelis and Juha Pöytälaakso as they battled hard, Vaškelis was favourite in this one but having snapped the second prop shaft of the day it was Juha to progress.
Brian Eagan dropped two wheels off on run one and then snapped a tie-rod on run two to hand an easy win Gary Dunne whilst Barry Leonard straightened on his second run allowing Shane O’Sullivan to progress.
The first battle of the great 8 saw McKeever send Enver Haskasap back to Cyprus empty handed while Jack Shanahan showed the underpowered Charlie Geary the exit gate and Kiely held his lines perfectly sending Juha Pöytälaakso on his way to the slow boat to Finland.
With a slipping clutch Gary Dunne couldn’t do anything to stop O’Sullivan progressing and it was at this point history had been made – 14 years unbeaten on home soil for the Irish – however who would take home the silverware?
In what could so easily have been predicted as a final battle and having faced each other the weekend before it was Jack Shanahan’s chance to get his own back on Duane McKeever. Shanahan took advantage after run one when McKeever tagged the wall but it was the Dungannon man who once again showed Jack the door.
Kiely took full advantage after O’Sullivan failed to initiate into turn one forcing him off the track below the judges and as such all Tomas had to do was bring it home to face McKeever in the final.
We had to wait in anticipation to see who would win as Shanahan and O’Sullivan fought for the final podium spot and after a good battle in the first run, a spin from the leading O’Sullivan handed the last podium spot to Jack.
With the grandstands on their feet, McKeever led Kiely into battle and after dropping a wheel at Mobil 1 bend Kiely lost ground and McKeever took advantage into the second run where he sat door to door with Kiely to take a well-deserved victory and his second consecutive Global Warfare win.
Having just maintained a 14 year dominance by the Irish, McKeever commented “I am over the moon, I couldn’t be any happier – that is two weeks in a row – I won BDC last week and I won IDC this week”.
After a rocky start to the season with his newly built car I asked if all is good to which a thrilled young lad from Dungannon replied “Everything’s fixed now and the cars going awesome – yeah I’m very very happy and hopefully many more podiums to come”.
IDC promised drift fans “Global Warfare” for round three and they didn’t disappoint. The best drivers in the world brought their “A” game to Ireland but the talented locals upheld Irish honour to remain undefeated on home soil once again.
Having been at the Rosebowl in Tipperary soon after the turn of the millennium for the very first ever Irish drift event – ‘D1 IRL’ I cannot believe just how far the sport has come on this small Isle over the years – if you have not been to an IDC event in recent times then please add it to a bucket list!
A full gallery of images is available here – Irish Drift Championship Round 3 – Global Warfare 4 by Graham Curry
Words and Photos: Graham Curry
[images must not be used in any way without prior written consent of the photographer]