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Rolling With The Punches(town)

The Irish Drift Championship returned to continue their 2018 campaign on 11-12th Aug; as the best drifters Ireland has to offer took on the challenge of a custom-circuit many believed was consigned to the history books. Part of an all-out motorsport extravaganza the 4th round of the 2018 series would take centre stage at the Irish Motor Festival in Punchestown – a truly engaging motoring experience for drivers, dealers, families and fans.

The ‘dark horse’ of the Irish Drift Championship, Shane ‘Sully’ O’Sullivan and the Japspeed.ie team arrived at the Punchestown circuit early on Saturday to set up before jumping in the hot seat and making the most of the available practice session before the Pro-Am competition later that day.

A somewhat ominous sky and a not-so-sunny forecast greeted the team on Sunday morning ahead of a 2nd practice session and soon after; qualifying. Having learnt a number of lessons with the JZ-power Japspeed S15 over the last 12 months Shane and the team were starting to see the results of their labour – practice run after practice run saw no mechanical issues.

The weather held as Shane took to the circuit for his 1st qualifying run. Planting the power straight from the line, Shane sailed through the long, sweeping course; a plume of Maxxis Tyres smoke billowing from the rear wheels of the Japspeed S15. True to his aggressive driving style it would be fair to say Shane pushed just that much too far and a slight slip from the required line resulted in a less than impressive 45.3 points on run 1.

Keen to up his game Shane lined up for his 2nd run. With no less commitment Shane displayed a little more control and precision as he powered round the custom layout. Crossing the finish line in a cloud of tyre smoke Shane proved he is still a force to be reckoned with taking a 2nd run score of 82.7 points and 12th place qualifier.

The heavens began to open as Top 24 battles got underway – Chris Brady and his 450bhp Toyota Corolla were all that stood in the way of Shane advancing further.

Leading on run 1 it became clear from the off that Chris wouldn’t go down without a fight as he pinned the little AE86 to the door of the Japspeed S15 – the wet conditions noticeably affecting both drivers as proceeding took a distinctly slower pace than they had earlier in the day. Keeping his cool despite the pressures and combined with a minor straighten from Chris gave Shane a strong position going into run 2.

The tables soon turned as run 2 began and Chris took the lead. Shane struggled to plant the full force of the Japspeed S15 in the wet conditions which gave him a hard time keeping up with the nimble AE86 of his competitor. The back and forth tussle left the judges unable to declare a winner and in such a case there is only 1 thing for it – One More Time!

The competition was once again wide open as Shane and Chris lined up for run 1. Shane soon found that just as before it would be very difficult to lose sight of his rival as the front of the Toyota kept so close as to very nearly make contact with Shane as they approached the 2nd clipping zone.

Much as before Shane kept the pressure on through the first few clips however it wasn’t long before the long, sweeping layout would reveal Shane struggling to put the power down fully; allowing his battle partner to gain distance and therefore the advantage. A hard fought battle split the judges’ decision with 2-1. Despite his best efforts on track the judges’ decision brought an end to Shane’s weekend.

Everyone at Team Japspeed would like to congratulate Duane McKeever, Mitch Larner and Alan Hynes on taking podium at this event.  The Japspeed.ie team have some upgrades in store for the Japspeed S15 ahead of the next round in Mondello. Shane will be back to push harder than ever for that top spot.

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