Forrest Wang Versus The Irish
The Streak

A lot has been said about the Irish’s unbeaten streak on home soil. Probably too much to be honest.

It’s quite a feat though, in that a non-Irish driver has never won a drift event in Ireland. It’s more impressive when you see the list of names who have come and had an attempt in recent years: Aasbø, Forsberg, Saito, Nishida, Tuerck and Fink to name but a few, and not to mention our English neighbours either. Some nearly did it; Forsberg in particular was probably the closest of the Formula D regulars, but ultimately he still fell short.

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There are likely a few reasons why the record has stood so long. Often, the lack of driving their own car has been an issue for some, although others did bring their own and still didn’t win – Aasbø, Saito and Nishida included. I think where a lot of drivers go wrong is that they don’t take the Irish championship very seriously. I mean, how can an island in the Atlantic with such a small population, which only has one international race circuit, produce enough quality to fend off the very best in the business?

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I’ll let you in on something. I’ve been praying for someone to come along and beat this streak for a few years now. I’m not being anti-patriot or anything, I just think that it’s what the Irish drivers need to progress even further on the world stage. When I found out that Forrest Wang was to compete at the first round of IDC 2016, I could already see the headline being written of how an outsider had finally broken the streak.

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I don’t know how many of you have ever met Forrest, but he embodies all that is good about drifting. He’s polite, friendly and willing to talk to just about anyone about the sport that he clearly loves so much.

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In complete contrast to his personality, his driving style is about as aggressive as you could ever imagine. Watching him initiate for the first time made me take a step back as he weight transferred and clutch kicked at 150km/h (93mph) towards the blind, off-camber first corner. It’s a feat he repeated again and again all weekend with zero fuss and maximum aggression.

He was the perfect candidate to finally take this unbeaten streak away from us.

The Rebellion
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In order to put up a fight, Forrest was supplied with a very capable machine: the left-hand drive D-Mac 240SX. It was behind the wheel of an earlier iteration of this car that Forsberg almost took a famous victory a couple of years back, before it needed to be re-shelled after Nishida’s huge accident in that car last year.

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It lives once more though, and is now better than ever. The 2JZ powerplant remains, although it’s received a whole new lease of life with a bigger Garrett turbo to produce somewhere around 700hp, not to mention a healthy dose of anti-lag.

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You might think that if the Irish are supplying the outside driver with a car, then surely the car just might be missing that little something to go all the way. Well, if there’s another Irishman who wants this streak beaten more than me, it’s probably Darren McNamara. This car represents his livelihood; it wears the very parts that he has designed and created himself. Between Darren and his chief mechanic Eddie, there’s nothing that they don’t know about how to set-up this car for any individual driver.

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With Forrest being quite hands on and knowing exactly what he wanted from the car, things were looking good almost straight from the off.

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Of course, there were a couple of drivers who would have no issues putting it all on the line to defend their home country’s honour. James Deane, as reigning IDC champion, would be the biggest challenge Forrest could potentially face. His Falken Motorsports S14 might look similar to last year, but it has been given a refresh with a new 3.4-litre Deane MSport 2JZ and a Samsonas sequential gearbox.

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16-year-old phenom Tomás Kiely was another potential foe. His S14 too had been given a refresh over the winter with a new engine making almost 900hp on low boost. He might be young in age, but his maturity and intelligence behind the wheel is simply staggering.

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On the subject of drivers who are still too young to drive on the roads, 16-year-old Jack Shanahan – the reigning British Drift champion – needed to borrow a car for the event as his own BMW-powered S14 wasn’t quite ready in time. Luckily, he didn’t have to look too far as he could borrow his 13-year-old brother Conor’s 650hp 2JZ 180SX to take part at Round 1.

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That’s not to mention the full grid of old and new Pro drivers, along with the top four drivers from the Semi-Pro ranks who were given the chance to compete at the highest level following their performance in the Semi-Pro event held on the Saturday.

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For Forrest, he was truly one man against an army.

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When a coilover broke on the start line for his first qualifying run, it looked like his weekend might have been over before it even began. Limping the car back to the pits, he would only have both limited time to make a repair and one run to guarantee himself a spot in the Top 16 by qualifying within the top eight drivers. (To encourage drivers to go all-out in qualifying in IDC, only the top eight qualifiers automatically progress to the Top 16, whilst the following 16 qualifiers must battle for the other eight Top 16 spots).

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There was never a doubt that he wouldn’t make it though, was there?

The Top 16
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IDC’s recent rise in popularity and success has been very much reliant on one hugely important aspect of the series – the fans. By working with the fans and engaging them, they have been able to create a solid base which to build a series upon. Some of you may already be aware, but IDC is the first top-level drift series to put its live stream behind a pay wall on IDC Nation. The kicker here is that the money you pay for your annual subscription is immediately funded back into the series to improve the live stream, increase the quality of events and to bring international drivers over to compete.

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It was as a direct result of the early subscribers to IDC Nation that allowed IDC to bring Forrest to compete, and continued support will see other drivers invited to drive the same 240SX over the course of the season. It’s a novel approach, but an important one in a country which is always going to struggle to pull big numbers to any particular event, purely due to population size.

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With a place booked in the Top 16, the time for talk was over; it was finally time to see how Forrest would fare in battle.

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His 15 competitors would feature one former and one reigning IDC champion, along with the same split of BDC reigning and former champions. A more competitive field you would struggle to find.

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Forrest’s first battle saw him face the potential banana skin of the low-powered AE86 of David Hobbs. Hobbs’ Corolla features an naturally-aspirated Yamaha BEAMS engine, typically found in the Toyota Altezza and producing around 190hp. Whilst he would have little difficulty leading, trying to keep the big power and high grip 240SX sideways was a bigger challenge, but Wang despatched Hobbs with relative aplomb.

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His Top 8 battle would see him take on a formidable rival in Paul McCarthy, behind the wheel of his yellow E36 M3. It might not look quite as sharp as its rivals, but the famous yellow BMWs of the McCarthy brothers have claimed many scalps over the years.

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Keeping a cool head, Forrest would progress once more. He was now only two battles from a famous victory.

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At this stage of the event, James Deane, Jack Shanahan and Tomás Kiely had already been eliminated. Deane in a borrowed car was knocked out by long time friend and rival Nigel Colfer, whilst uncharacteristic errors saw the two 16-year-olds both eliminated far earlier in the competition than anyone anticipated.

Next up for Forrest was the ultra consistent Shane O’Sullivan in the Japspeed S15 Silvia. Shane, a former BDC champion, has never won an IDC event and has been dead-set on breaking his own streak. After a solid lead run, it was up to Wang to make an impression on the judges during his chase.

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However, an uncharacteristic mistake saw Forrest straighten at the second clipping point. Knowing it was now do or die, he absolutely stuck the 240SX into every last inch of the Japspeed car’s personal space.

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O’Sullivan wasn’t phased by Wang’s aggression and continued his run as he would have liked, eliminating Forrest in the process. The unbeaten streak lives on.

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In the final, O’Sullivan would go toe-to-toe with 20-year-old Duane McKeeever, himself a previous IDC champion at 18 years old. The last season was tough on Duane as car trouble prevented him from mounting a title defence, but going by his and his car’s performance at Round 1, those troubles are behind him.

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There was very little to separate the two drivers, but I think in the end, Duane’s more aggressive chase run gave him the edge and the overall victory at the first round.

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Forrest wouldn’t go home empty-handed though, as he took the third spot on the podium after Colfer retired the Low Brain Ps13 with a clutch failure.

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A podium was the very least that Forrest deserved on the day, after an astounding debut in the Irish Drift Championship. Unlike some of the others who tried before him, Forrest took the event and his rivals seriously from the get-go. I honestly don’t think anyone in the crowd would have begrudged him the win.

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Speaking to him afterwards, he showed a great amount of admiration for what the Irish drift community has created, seemingly from nothing. The quality of drivers and cars impressed him and I felt a sense of pride in how highly he spoke of his experience here. The feeling was mutual of course; I know that Forrest would be welcomed back to Ireland with open arms at any stage in the future.

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Truly, he’s the best driver that I’ve seen compete at Mondello not to win.

Maybe next time…

Paddy McGrath
Instagram: pmcgphotos
Twitter: pmcgphotos

Cutting Room Floor
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Still extremely jealous of the 16 year old drifter. We need a full feature on his background and car.


I sure wish I could watch this year, but that pay wall.....not a fan. Love the series and watched all the rounds last year. Awesome series.

As far as the IDC drivers, if they want to be recognized and take anything to that next level, they need to step outta their playground. Anyone will eventually get good if they drift the same 5 tracks every year. Inviting foreigners over to play with just isn't the same as taking your program and running in their series. I'm not saying they're not good, they are very very good. But until we see a true international series of events, they are still just dialing in their local spots.


CharlesChris15 I'll hopefully have a spotlight on the car next week, although I think a full feature might be in order somewhere down the line.


D1RGE It's a necessary evil in a country where it's always going to be difficult to raise the revenue to keep the championship going. Even the livestream itself costs almost double what the largest series sponsor is providing. The only option is to appeal to a large global audience online instead. The cost for a whole season, which includes access to the 'Heroes for the Weekend' and full replays of each event is around $15 per year, which isn't extortionate by any means.  

I think Irish drivers have proved time and time again that they have what it takes in other series'. James Deane has won the Drift Allstars series against properly stiff competition many times now, Jack Shanahan is the current BDC champion, Shane O'Sullivan a former BDC champion too. Then you have the likes of McNamara, Kearney etc. who compete(d) at the sharp end of the FD grid for several years. For a lot of guys though, they just don't have the finances to fund a program abroad. Your point is a valid one though.  

FWIW, this was a new Mondello layout that was used for the very first time, although it does feature two corners used previously.


I love this. Beautiful story telling and shots Paddy McGrath. Hopefully I will get to shoot there again soon.


Larry Chen Paddy McGrath Thanks, Larry. It's been too long since we never stood beside each other and occasionally walked past each other in the paddock. Miss you!


Paddy McGrath eww


Drift Forrest drift!


Great story and imagery Paddy! Great work as usual mate.


Good Yarn and pics!!!

Thing with claiming no foreigner has won is the fact its judged by Irish nationals. Creating an allure to entice top level international drivers to be the first to conquer the IDC while stopping the from doing so.

Im not saying this is what happens at all (most likely not), Its just the first thing that popped into my head when i read that.


DaveOliver Thanks, Dave.


ae70 Yeah, that has been thrown at the judges more than once, but it's not something I personally believe to be the case. IDC judges have to explain their decisions after every battle which makes it very difficult to be biased as your decision will immediately be scrutinised. Of the international drivers that I've seen eliminated, all were pretty clear cut decisions. Forsberg's engine failed in the final but he really could have won that day.


StreetStatik Er, yes?


Great coverage Paddy!


Is that the same S13 that almost being wrecked last year ?! I'm surprised to hear so many JZ-powered S-chassis in UK , the other side of the ocean are probably LS-swap the most .


RDS It was re-shelled into being pretty much an all new car. Also, Ireland isn't the UK :)


Paddy McGrath StreetStatik errrm... this was one of those.. "mention the garage shots and how much you loved them" but then my conscience kicked in and thought "get off speedhunters  and do some work!!" so instead of nothing, it seems i just hit post comment.

btw, those garage shots are beautiful... nice work Paddy.


Paddy McGrath ae70

I can see how from the outside it would appear that way, but as Paddy mentioned it's not down to judging. The judges in IDC must justify live their decision, highlighting the scoring used to score their decision and reasoning in detail. 

The reason for it is that to date no body has been good enough on the day (not good enough in general, just not good enough on the day) or simply didn't have the machinery to reach the top step, be it reliability or otherwise.

The other reason is the Irish have a trump card.. James Deane. Unquestionably one of the best drifters in the world right now. Multiple Irish and European champion, capable of and as often does turn up to any event anywhere in Europe and despite having never seen the track before top qualifying, win or at the very least podium against proper stiff competition. Put him on home soil, in a very good and more often than not ultra reliable, well set up and balanced S14 and you are going to have to be outstanding to beat him.

This high level has pushed the field to a very high level with many Irish drivers now finally consistent enough and now in equipment capable of matching or possibly bettering him on a given weekend. Possible but far from a given.

From the outset of Saturday practice I rated a number of drivers capable of the top step. Dwayne Mc Keever, Shane O Sullivan, Nigel Colfer, James Deane all absolutely on it, ultra consistent. Not to discredit a number of other very capable drivers but imo the consistency or machinery just didn't appear to be there on the day. 

F-Wang was clearly capable of going far from the word go and certainly as was the D Mac 240. He was absolutely on it, inch perfect through the second section of the course with an outstanding level of aggression. F-Wang has posted the biggest threat to the top step yet since Fosberg, but on second attempt to beat an on point Colfer in a full working LBD car, Deane in his own car or a more dialed in Kiely or Shanahan not to mention the rest of the strong field would take everything, the full package. 

From a motorsport fan perspective few have shown the full package to go all the way, from an entertainment point many have put on a great show but few have taken it serious enough to win. The level is just so high. Truly world class.

Forrest Wang showed great spirit, commitment and ability and would no doubt be welcome back any time to have another shot at the top step.


Paddy McGrath 
I would love to see how they did that .
Oh yeah , Ireland .


It's Ireland , not the UK. Big difference, like Canada and USA


To hone logic, supported with open minds and a lot to learn. For logic that is already extensive, balance it with humility


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