Saturday morning saw the UK drivers arrive to Punchestown andit also saw the start to what was one of the hottest days in recent memory for the emerald isle.Punchestown is traditionally known as one of the worlds most famous horse racing courses. But for one weekend a year, a different kinds of horsepower takes over the Kildare countryside venue.
It's not very often we see blue skies here so you'll be seeing plenty of them in this post. Team Japspeed's four car lineup along with the SkylineParts.com Rocket Bunny kitted RB30 PS13 of Anthony Scott. Saturday was to be the more relaxed day for the drivers as the non-seeded pro drivers took to the challenging custom built track.
2009 is all about the rear clipping points in Prodrift, with drivers actively encouraged to take the wide, wall rubbing line. For Punchestown the judges created a rear clipping zone at the bottom of the judges tower. You had put your two rear wheels in the white box and you've got that clipping point, but the closer after that you get to the wall, the more points you get. Here is 13 year old, Duane McKeever showing how it's done. Yes, I did say 13, as in 1 + 3.
Saturday was the main event for the non-seeded pro drivers, the class directly below Pro class. The standard of machinery in Ireland has come on leaps and bounds since the first event I attended back in 2003. Here we see Nolan's sleek Nissan Onevia as he enters the Punchestown course.
Conor Murphy unveiled the latest incarnation of his F20C powered AE86. The Honda VTEC unit is definitely my favourite engine swap for the AE86. Although this was only Conor's third event in the car, he was notably improving from run to run.
Michael Sheehan's orange Drive N Style backed PS13 looked a million dollars under the unrelenting Irish sun.
WKD Imports owner Wez Keating keeps upping his game at every event. A solid driving style of consistency and aggression are sure to see him step up to Pro class in 2009.
I still find myself laughing at how awesome Tommy McDonagh's Volvo looks going sideways. The car is powered by a Ford YB Cosworth and was putting on one of the best smoke shows of the weekend.
Pro driver Dean Kearneys older brother Ronan is soaring through the non-seeded pro class. Definitely another pro class contender for 2009 in the SDS Vehicles widearched PS13.
For the love of me I can't remember this guys name, but I love this candy coloured PS13. Street looks and able to produce clouds of smoke, how couldn't you love it ?
Unfortunately the rear clipping point proved too much for some, but I give this driver 100% praise for going maximum attack to improve his lines. I used to ride downhill mountain bikes many years ago and we always had the saying if 'You don't go off, your not trying hard enough.'
The eagle eyed amongst you will recognise this JZX81 as Ben 'Bon Bon' Broke Smiths old Chaser. Well, the car resides in Ireland now and is still getting a tough old life !
As the sun began to slowly set, the pro class drivers took to the track for some practice. Here is Hankook driver Alan Lenihan in his strawberry faced PS13.
Silverstone Tyres driver Mike Deane went onto win the second round of the Irish series later on the same evening. Could we see a brotherly title challenge this year between Mike and his younger brother and current Irish prodrift champion James ?
James on the other hand was out testing his new FD RX7, powered by a Nissan SR motor. The wide bodied Origin kitted RX, painted in Nexen purple on Work CE28N wheels looks so aggressive, it's actually a little bit scary.
Martin Ffrench unleashed all the standard horsepower of his Nissan Silvia and still managed to drive the wheels off the car, proving its driver not the car thats the important part in drifting.
WKD driver Nigel Colfer unveiled his 1JZ powered Nissan RPS13 180SX. An incident later in the day would nearly see this car burn to the ground, but thanks to the quick reactions of the Prodrift Marshalls, the car was saved and lives to see another day.
Dennis Healy's Nexen SR86 was to fall foul of the Irish heat and retired with engine failure.
John O'Connell breaks the Japanese mould by continuing to be competitive in his E30 BMW.
After all the hardship in preparing the car, Dean Kearney was to retire on Saturday evening with clutch failure. But this was not to be the end of the Maxxis sponsored drivers weekend …
More coming soon …
- Paddy M