The Drift Masters European Championship kicked off it’s 2022 season at Mondello Park, Ireland, and local fan favourites The Shanahan’s were eager to show the local crowd of 11,000 spectators they were here for the win.
On day 1, they took to the track for several practice sessions, where the brothers got used to not only their new setups, but also the new tyres that they were running for the first time. The brothers headed into the qualifying session confident that they could score high.
The younger of the two, Conor, put in two solid runs and scored high with a 95, taking third qualifying spot.
Meanwhile, Jack was to get the best response from the judges, and the crowd went wild, after he scored a 99 and took the top spot.
Day 2 was competition day, where the top 32 qualifiers would be whittled down to just one winner.
Jack was the first driver up and found himself automatically progressing to the next stage, as his opponent Henri Haanpää suffered major issues with his car during a practice run prior to the top 32.
He did however still have to go out and complete a run. With an aggressive entry into the first corner, the rear-passenger side tyre debeaded as he dropped into the dirt, but somehow managed to complete the lap with signature Shanahan flair.
Conor was no match against opponent, and fellow Irishman, Alan Delaney, as his new Toyota GT86 powered away and created a huge gap between the two, all the while putting in a solid, clean run.
In the top 16, the on-form Jack found himself against fellow #TeamLinkECU driver Kevin Quinn. Quinn, who had decided to rest from drifting this year, couldn’t resist competing against Europe’s best drivers and bought back his 2021 drift car just to take part.
In an electric battle, Quinn tried hard to match the pace of Shanahan into the first corner, but the line that he took to gain proximity meant he washed straight off the track and put four wheels into the dirt. Jack continued his run along a perfect line and had the clear advantage into the second run.
As both drivers rolled up to the start line, it became obvious that Quinn had an issue. Exiting his car to inspect it, the problem was quickly identified; a debeaded tyre, which came off the wheel during run one.
In Conor’s top 16 battle, he too found himself up against another #TeamLinkECU driver. This time, it was to be Tor Arne Kvia.
The first run was a much cleaner and technical drive from both. Kvia chased Shanahan and stayed close throughout the run, matching Conor’s every move and putting him under pressure.
Their second run was another eye-watering spectacle, with Conor sticking to the rear of Tor. The pressure seemed to be getting to both as throughout the run they each made small mistakes. It was a tricky decision for the judges to make, and so it was decided to let them run one more time.
With Conor leading their third battle, the advantage without a doubt belonged to Kvia. The second half of the run saw Kvia door-to-door with the younger Shanahan at well over 70km/h and earned him a huge round of applause from the crowd.
Conor was now in an all or nothing position and had to give his all to secure any chance of progressing. Thankfully for him though, Kvia made a huge mistake and drifted off the track into the gravel, handing the win to Shanahan.
Jack had an easy top 8 battle against Duane McKeever, who was in a borrowed car. McKeever sailed off the track at the first corner during the first run, after his car gripped up and lost momentum.
During battle two, Jack decided to play it safe and keep a bit of distance from McKeever, knowing that this tactic would see him through to the semi-finals.
Conor’s top 8 battle was to be against current Drift Masters champion, and fellow #TeamLinkECU driver, Piotr Wiecek.
With Conor leading, Piotr tried hard to stick to the rear of the GT86. As a result, Wiecek suffered from understeer and almost straight-lined, but managed to recover and redeem himself as he caught back up and maintained a close proximity for the remainder of the run.
In what seemed like a repeat of run one, but with the shoe on the other foot, Shanahan also suffered from understeer into corner one, only this time it had a huge impact on his speed and left a huge gap between himself and Wiecek.
Conor managed to catch up by cutting the track and made a brave effort to salvage the rest of the run, but the damage was done, and his day came to an end, with a 5th place finish.
In was to be a heart-breaking semi-final run for Jack against Oliver Randalu. In a case of history repeating itself, Jack suffered from yet another tyre debead as he hit the first corner. The tyre was dragged under the car and violently spat out from the back. With DMEC rules not allowing a return to the pits during battles, it meant Jack could not continue and that Randalu was automatically handed the win.
Jack therefore took 4th place overall.
The brother’s told us that this was their first event using a “Vilino” tyre and initially found it tricky to get used to, after years of using another tyre. However, they have learned a lot of lessons about their new setup’s and are confident for the next round, which takes place in Austria on the 18th and 19th of June.