This weekend gone saw the third round of the Irish Prodrift Series take place at Mondello Park, the only international race circuit in Ireland. With entry speeds of 100mph and a new line for the drivers to follow, plenty of action was on the cards for those in attendance. Like previous rounds, round three was all about the outside clipping point with only one inside clipping point on the course that was situated on the first corner. The outer clipping points increased the difficulty of the course ten fold, but also increased the speed of the course to a level not seen before at the Co. Kildare venue.
The weather was typically Irish all weekend. Cloudy all day Saturday with sporadic showers, but luckily the rain stayed away for when the seeded pro class drivers took to the track.
Christy Carpenter unveiled his BN Sports kitted RB26 powered S15 for its first run on Irish soil. Christy grabbed first place qualifier on the Saturday evening.
Current Irish & European champion James Deane was on typicaly good form in his new S-RX7, qualifying well but a blown engine put him into a loan car for the superlap and top 16 battles.
Speedhunter driver Martin Ffrench drove this Laurel to a solid Top 16 finish where he was eliminated by eventual winner Mike Deane. Speaking afterwards, Martin told me that although the Laurel is a good, solid car, it just isn't powerful or light enough to be competitive against its rivals. The event has has put Wexican Motorsport into full steam ahead to finish the much hyped SX-22 Altezza.
Dean Kearney put in solid runs all weekend, with a strong qualification and a 4th place superlap. But it was his twin battles that people were not to forget …
WKD Imports driver Johnny P was displaying some of the best entries all weekend. In the above shot Johnny is still on the straight before the first corner !
Johnny's WKD team-mate Nigel Colfer was laying down blistering runs all weekend in his 1JZ powered 180SX.
BMW driver John-Paul McCarthy used every inch of track to set himself up for Top 16 during the Superlap.
As did Alan Sinnott in his WKD SR-86.
New to the pro class was Stephen Bolger, who won the semi-pro class on Saturday and in doing so, graduated into the pro-class.
There was a surreal sense of calm in the paddock before top 16 …
It may of had something to do with most of the driver being distracted by the new Need for Speed Shift game that EA kindly brought along for the drivers and public to try out.
Here is James Deane laughing as Dean 'Karnage' Kearney continues to live up to his name sake even in the virtual world. Your supposed to brake for the corners Dean, not use the other competitors to slow down !
Prodrift Hall of Famer Damien Mulvey came out of retirement to give some lucky spectators passenger ride-a-longs in the new Prodrift Academy cars during the break. I've got this sneaky suspicion that we may be seeing more of Damien later in the year …
The Top 16 battles saw some intense competition with brothers Connor and Alan Lenihan needing to be run again until Alan eventually went through.
Another competitor who started out in Amateur at the start of the weekend was the 'Banzai Corolla Guy' driving a stock 4-AGE AE86. Never before have I witnessed such commitment by a driver, an absolute force to be reckoned with who put the scares on some of the bigger competitors throughout practice !
Stephen Shine would bow out to Dean Kearney in the top 16.
Johnny P was to be knocked out to by an on-fire Christy Carpenter.
James Deane in a borrowed car was to be eliminated by Nigel Colfer.
In top eight, Carpenter was to fall foul of Stephen Bolger, one of the shock defeats of the weekend.
This was for me the battle of the weekend, Alan Sinnott and Dean Kearney were absolutely glued to each other for both runs …
Mirroring each other as per the judges instructions. It would take a OMT before Kearney was to finally progress to the Top four.
Colfer was to take another scalp, by taking out Hankook driver Alan Lenihan …
Before being eliminated himself by Mike Deane's bio-ethanol powered S13.4 !
The final gave us probably the most action packed battles as Deane faced off against Karnage.
Unable to match the grip and traction of Deane's car, Kearney ran wide into the grass giving the first run to Deane.
Karnage's off saw him invoke a five minute rule to try and get the car back together before the second run. The small off into the grass saw him break a sideskirt, destroy a rear bumper, break the exhaust hangers and smash up the front bumper on the drivers side. But this was not to stop Karnage from going 110% to try and overturn Deane's advantage.
As the two emerged over the crest for the second run, it was clear this was to be a make or break run for both drivers …
A testment to Deane's preperation, driving and mechanical skills, his S13.4 displayed levels of mechanical grip I have never seen before. I can assure you passing Karnage is no mean feat but Mike was able to disptach Karnage with ease to take the win !
The battle continued on the podium as the top three of (L-R) Karnage, Deane & Bolger couldn't wait for the token podium photograph to be taken and unleashed a barrage of champagne at each other. Deane even took the last laugh by donating a nice pair of bunny ears to Karnage.
Next weekend Prodrift will be at Donington Park for the third round of the Super Series. As always, expect full coverage here on Speedhunters.com !
- Paddy M