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by James Preston
18th August 2017 · Ireland

For part two of our coverage of the Irish Drift Championship Round 4 in Watergrasshill, it’s time to turn to the Pro-Am competition.  Over the years, Semi-Pro and now Pro-Am  was seen an entry level tier into competitive drifting but in the last few years, builds have become insane, the driving is door on door, and Pro-Am drivers have progressed into to the Pro class with immediate podium success. 

Watergrasshill would set the perfect stage for an underdog weekend hero to emerge and take down some of the best in the business. The go-kart track located on a picturesque Cork countryside would feature 12 front and rear clipping points dotted around 1 sweeping bend followed by 3 teardrop turns. Head judge and drifting guru Kieran Hynes would develop a Qualifying line that would maximise a flowing speed through the course as well as allowing for close door on door battles. 

Winters quick-change rear differentials, full Wisefab suspension setups, and 2JZ engines tuned to an inch of their lives squeezed into Formula D spec shell cars in a Pro-Am competition on a go-kart in the middle of the Irish countryside. The sounds about right, yes?

But at the end of the day, throwing money at your car and hoping it would develop some talent on track is useless, and what can transpire will show your true worth. 1000hp purpose built projects would face off against 180hp weekend shed projects, and its not power produced under the fibreglass hood that will make you progress but what you do behind the wheel and what you do with the wheel itself.  

Go hard or go home must be Tadgh O’Sullivan’s life motto as he always leaves it all on track but pushing hard on every run will come back to bite you, and pushing hard on Saturday afternoon would see him mount a tyre barrier on initiation and almost flip his trusty KP Starlet, sending a tyre careering into the chasing Liam Devlin. Even after all of that carnage, the little Toyota managed to drive itself on the waiting recovery truck. The best built cars in the world, eh?

The Irish Amateur Drift Championship was set up 2 years ago to allow new drivers to gain their IDC Pro-Am licences, but such is the level coming through the ranks, that out of the top 10 drivers in the Pro-Am Championship right now, the majority have come through in the last year or so. 

Rounding out the Top 4, and not so fresh from his brothers and also IDC Pro driver Anthony Galvin’s wedding, Ian Galvin was flying solo representing CAC Motorsport. Ian would miss out on podium glory this time round, but get himself through the Pro competition on Sunday. Word of his success made its way to newlywed Anthony, who immediately gave him his 2JZ powered Pro-spec 180sx for Sunday. Now, that’s brotherly love. 

Northern young gun Ryan Caldwell took 3rd place on the podium following the battle of the day with Conor Shanahan in the Top 4. The Strabane native has gone from strength to strength and looks close to claiming an illustrious IDC Pro Licence come the end of September. 

Drift Games driver and dabbing extraordinaire Alan Hynes is the current 2017 IDC Pro Am points leader and looks to go head to head with 14 year Conor Shanahan for the Championship title at Japfest next month, with only 5 points separating the two. 

Shanahan would take top spot this time round after contact caused by Hynes on his chase run would hand the local school boy vital championship points. With an IDC Pro Licence all but secured for both Shanahan and Hynes for the 2018 season, both drivers will have their eyes on Championship glory in front of a huge Mondello crowd next month. 

Who will claim top spot? Tune in next time.

Location:  Watergrasshill, Cork
Words by: Adam O'Connor
Photos by: Adam O'Connor