An action-packed weekend late September saw both the Irish Drift Championship and DriftMasters European Championship conclude their 2018 series; as drivers from more than 20 countries took to the blacktop to try and claim a €60,000 prize-fund. Set in the now iconic Mondello Park against a backdrop of 600+ show cars, open track time, extensive off-track entertainment as well as a huge trade village and you have yourself one of the biggest drifting weekends on the 2018 calendar.
Kicking off proceedings with the Irish Drift Championship an explosive practice session saw Matt ‘Doorhunter’ Carter and Shane ‘Sully’ O’Sullivan keen to get out on track as qualifying got underway.
Heading out for his 1st qualifying run Matt Carter made it clear he was there to win as he launched his Japspeed R32 from the line despite the damp conditions on track. There may not have been much smoke but Matt Carter was on fire as he started as he meant to go on; earning a clean 85.3 points in the process.
Only a short while later and with the track beginning to dry out the dark horse of the Irish Drift Championship took to the track; as Shane ‘Sully’ O’Sullivan attacked the course with the drive and determination he is so well-known for. Leaving a trail of Maxxis Tyres smoke in his wake Shane put on a spectacular display of precision driving culmination in a billowing cloud temporarily obscuring the 2JZ-powered Japspeed S15 from view before crossing the line and completing an 81.3 point 1st run.
High scores across the IDC grid meant Matt needed to be on top form for his 2nd run. Putting the power down straight from the line Matt made it clear he meant business as he propelled the R32 delicately through clipping zone after clipping zone; a trail of Maxxis Tyres following closely behind before crossing the line and claiming a 2nd run score of 90.7 points.
Determined not to be outdone Shane demanded attention as he attacked the Mondello arena in an epic assault which saw him sail through each and every clipping zone with near-surgical precision. Engulfing the Cork venue in tyre smoke from the super-grippy Maxxis VR1 tyres Shane crossed the line with an impressive 89.7 points. Qualifying in 3rd and 4th overall Matt Carter and Shane O’Sullivan were in a formidable position heading into the Top 32 battles.
In his top 32 battle Shane came head to head with Aurimas Vaskelis in his 760bhp BMW E30. Leading on the 1st run Shane gave his all as the two drivers launched into the tight and technical circuit. A near perfect run from Shane was hampered only by it being matched by his very capable competitor keeping his car pinned to the door of the Japspeed S15.
With everything on the line Shane knew he would have to push hard as he lined up ahead of his chase run. Having perfected his line earlier in the day Shane launched the S15 as hard as he could however it soon became clear the additional 160bhp of his rival would prove a challenge as Shane struggled to keep the pace behind Vaskelis. A unanimous decision fell against Shane; unfortunately bringing an end to his weekend.
Meanwhile the Doorhunter came up against Ireland’s own Diarmuid O’Connell in his top 32 battle. Taking the lead on run 1 Matt planted the power right from the off; leaving Diarmuid with the difficult task of keeping up. Pushing ever faster Matt managed to maintain the distance as he sailed through the course riding a wave of momentum his rival simply couldn’t match.
Keen to press home his advantage Matt kept the power on as he applied the pressure on run 2. As both drivers completed the first section the pressure began to take its toll as Diarmuid drops right back and Matt has nowhere to go but to overtake and claim the lead position for the remainder of the battle. A clear-cut decision advanced Matt Carter into the top 16.
Full of confidence heading into the top 16 Matt pulled up to the line to face Brendan Stone and his Lexus GS300. Leading on run 1 Matt pushed hard and kept the Japspeed R32 pinned through each of the clipping zones with Brendan gaining ground to bring the battle only in the latter half of the run.
Living up to his name in run 2 Matt kept the pressure on as he planted the nose of the JZ-powered Skyline to the side of his rival, throughout the run. Cranking his performance up to 11 Matt advanced into the top 8.
The competition began to heat up as Matt Carter lined up to lead in his top 8 battle against Piotr Wiecek and his R34. Matt attacked the circuit with aggression and commitment however his rival was right on his tail throughout. With everything to play for Matt gave as good as he got on run 2; culminating with Matt and Piotr crossing the line side by side to the sound of screaming anti-lag and clouds of tyre smoke. A nervous wait was soon rewarded as the judges put Matt through to the final 4.
For a place in the final the stakes climbed ever higher as Matt Carter came head to head with young-gun Conor Shanahan. Leading the way on run 1 Matt gathered some distance through the 1st corner shortly before Conor closed the gap; sticking his 180sx to the door of the Japspeed Skyline. A clean run and a good line kept Matt in a strong position for his chase run.
Matt knew he would have to keep his cool and plant the power as he made his assault on run 2. Both drivers clearly giving their all and pushing well up to their limits however a fierce attack from Matt Carter secured his place in the final to face James ‘The Machine’ Deane and a bid to break the Irish’ undefeated on home soil streak.
With a 1st place podium position to play for Matt pushed the Japspeed R32 to the limit as he pursued his rival on run 1. Both drivers had been on top form throughout the day culminating in an intense door on door feud as Matt matched James’ line.
The pressure began to build as Matt then had to lead the Formula Drift driver on home soil. Riding practically side by side throughout the run; daylight could barely be seen between the two drivers. A climactic finale wowed the crowds as the 2017 BDC and Formula Drift Champions charged across the line. Ultimately the smallest of errors saw Matt hand the win to James; claiming 2nd place on the podium in the process.
Team Japspeed would like to congratulate James Deane, Matt Carter and Mitch Larner on taking podium at this event.
However that’s not all as only 12hrs later DriftMasters European Championship would bring their season to a close at the Mondello Circuit the next day. Check out what went down in Part 2 of our report to follow.