Prodrift Round 1 Ennis – Sunday
- 23 April 2011
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After a night of antics at Queens nightclub in Ennis, both drivers and fans returned to Clare Marts for the Pro seed competition on Sunday. Even the Gardaí got in on the action!
Thankfully the weather was just as good as the day before, and after the mornings practice sessions, 21 drivers headed into the qualification round for the Top 16.
Qualification ran the same format as Saturday, with drivers having 2 runs scored out of 100 points, with the better run to count. 19 year old James Deane, defending his 2010 title, topped qualifying with a near-perfect score of 91.5 in a borrowed Low-Brain drifters S13. Nigel Colfer took 2nd place with a 91, showing his determination after taking a runner-up spot in 2010. Three drivers from Saturday; Duane McKeever, Nick Quealy and Wesley Keating, all managed to find a spot in the Top 16.
Prodrift Superlap is a single lap used to determine the seed for the Top 16 battles, and is also a competition for championship points in the series. Drivers get one run to give their all and try to please both crowd and judges to get a maximum of 30 points, 10 from each judge. As each driver completes their run, they return to the judge’s tower to get their score. In knockout format, the driver who has the highest score then joins the judges and commentators to give their own insight and opinions until their score is beaten. The driver left standing in the tower is the winner, and placed as 1st seed for the Top 16.
James Deane was first to run and managed to score an amazing 27 out of a possible 30. This proved hard to beat, with many coming close but it wasn’t until Nigel Colfer, last to run, snatched it away with a near perfect 29 that dethroned James Deane from the tower.
As the Top 16 kicked off, the first twin battle left both crowd and judges in awe. Superlap winner Nigel Colfer was placed against Chris Brady who couldn’t compete in the Super lap due to a mechanical failure, and it was obvious immediately that this should have been a final. With nothing between the drivers, it took two OMT (one more time) calls before Nigel Colfer scraped his way into the Top 8.
Second battle saw John Paul McCarthy in his M5 V8 powered M3 against local man Christy Carpenter in his Yokohama sponsored S15. Again, with very little to separate the two, judges called for another OMT. With both drivers having sloppy runs and a collision, the win went to Carpenter for less severe mistakes.
WKD Imports driver Barry Leonard was competing in the Pro seed competition for his first year, and he wasn’t out of place as he easily beat Michael Swan. Unfortunately for WKD Imports boss Wesley Keating, Alan Sinnott put an end to his terrific run at the weekend. The defeat didn’t stop Wes from smiling though, pleased to have done so well.
Gavin Lenihan put an end to amateur Nick Quealy’s weekend, but Duane McKeever never failed to impress as he surpassed 2009 champion Mike Deane, otherwise known as the father of drifting in Ireland.
Hankook driver Alan Lenihan, brother to Gavin, managed to beat Dan Moorehead, and James Deane overcame Japspeed driver Shane O’Sullivan to secure the final place in the Top 8.
The first battle of the Top 8 saw Christy Carpenter dispose of Nigel Colfer in a sloppy battle by both drivers. Alan Sinnott put in consistent runs which were enough to beat Barry Leonard, and to see himself paired against the Ennis native Carpenter for the Top 4.
McKeever showing his talent managed to advance to the Top 4 over Gavin Lenihan, whose error and near-spin in his second run cost him a spot in the final 4. James Deane just managed to put away Lenihan in quite a close battle, which set up a match which people were referring to as “The future of drifting” against Duane McKeever.
Alan Sinnott took the first spot in the finals after yet another OMT, leaving Carpenter in place for the runner-up battle. In the amazing battle of the youths, James Deane managed to overcome his younger rival to secure his spot in the finals.
Christy Carpenter secured a spot on the podium with a 3rd place win over McKeever, who took 4th place after coming from the Non-seed and amateur competition on Saturday. Definitely one to watch for 2011.
The final between Alan Sinnott and James Deane was one worth waiting for, and it didn’t disappoint. It took a OMT call to separate the drivers, but Alan Sinnott managed to snatch his first Irish series win since Japfest 2009. Not taking the loss to heart, it’s obvious that James Deane is determined to defend his title with 2nd place finish and 2nd in the Super lap, he’s looking like the driver to beat this year. Ironically, at 19 he still doesn’t hold a road license.
Other antics over the weekend included the first ever Prodrift Freestyle competition, where drivers had 1 minute to do what they wanted to impress the judges. Highlight was when Kevin Kindregan managed to lose his rear-left wheel, and limp back to the pits on the disc….Ouch!
Round 2 arrives in Fermoy in Cork for May 28/29th, and if Round 1 was anything to go by… it can’t come soon enough.