Prodrift 2011 – The Finals

Just one week ago we were at Mondello Park once more for the Finale of Prodrift 2011, and Irelands biggest car show Japfest.

Not only was the entire paddock jam-packed with cars, but there were quite a few surprises in store. As the drivers packed in for the early briefing, there were a few names that were new on the Irish scene…

But certainly not new on a world-wide scene!

For the first time ever, competitors from Formula-D in the US, Dai Yoshihara from Japan, Fredric Aasbø from Norway, and some of the UK’s finest including Team Falken graced Irish soil for a no-holds barred final to this years Prodrift season.

Team Need for Speed drivers Darren “D-Mac” Macnamara and Fredric Aasbø could be found in the massive Need for Speed / EA Games tent, along with the Speedhunters crew.

The Monster Energy crew were there as usual, handing out free cans of Monster all day long

The course for the day:

As the day kicked off with Qualifying, all the drivers got straight down to business. With only 2 chances to put down a score to clinch a spot in the Top 16, It was soon made very clear that everyone came to win as drift speeds topped 120km/hr through the first corner and some massive entries.

Irelands very own D-Mac came tops on Qualifying with an amazing second run

While surprisingly, Team Falken from the UK didn’t even manage to qualify

After a short closure of the track for some Time-Attack and drag racing, it was straight back in to SuperLap. Only one run to try and impress the judges for a chance at those much needed Prodrift Championship points. Superlap also dictates the seed for the top 16, so a good superlap is half the battle!

In a strange turn of events, D-Mac managed to come last in the Superlap due to a spin, while the Championship leader Alan Sinnott in his freshly repainted AE86 managed to place well enough to secure the Championship win with his Superlap.

Good thing, too, as he was promptly eliminated in the first of the Top 16 twin-battles by Gavin Lenihan.

Very quickly it was narrowed down to the Great 8, as some of Irelands best were knocked out.
Dai Yoshihara in the SR20 powered Altezza previously owned by Martin Ffrench managed to beat Dean “Karnage” Kearney due to a spin in his also borrowed Nissan S-body.

And in a battle of the best looking cars, Phil Morrison in the Driftworks S15 managed to surpass Christy Carpenter

Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni succumbed to Dan Moorehead

Also Fredric Aasbo and James Deane both managed to find their spots in the final 8, along with D-mac and Brendan Stone.

As things heated up, Gavin Lenihan made short work of Brendan Stone in the first of the top 8 battles, and soon after, D-Mac and Dai would be going head to head on Irish soil for once.

No hard feelings as D-Mac progressed to the Top 4, although the other drivers and drift fans alike are still arguing as to whether Dai put one or two wheels off the track … the crucial element to this decision, proving to be the most controversial one all day.

And James Deane sent Fredric Aasbo packing

Phil Morrison managed to steal the last spot away from Dan Moorehead to find his place in the Top 4

Only to be denied a spot in the finals by James Deane, who at this point had only 1st and 3rd gear working.

D-Mac put an end to Gavin Lenihans winning streak to take the hot seat against James in the finals, and what a hot seat it turned out to be.

After Phil Morrison spun handing 3rd place to Lenihans, the finals kicked off.

With James to lead, D-Mac came in hot and cut the corner, shredding the front bumper and unknowingly to him, making bits of his sump plug on the rumble strips. He went off line but managed to get back on course

Only for the car to be engulfed in a massive flame in a matter of seconds around the last bend, as the leaking engine oil got set alight by the exhaust pipes

and as the oil starved engine ground to a halt, D-Mac had to forfeit to James Deane in quite possibly the most adrenaline filled final Prodrift has ever seen. All I can say is, I hope next year starts back right where this seasons left off!

Congrats to James, D-Mac and Gavin on the All Irish podium, and congrats to Wesley Keating on coming 1st in the Non-Seeded section, and well done to everyone who competed this year, Amateur, Non-seeded and Pro.