Half A Second Of Mayhem In Poland

Did you watch it?

If you’ve any interest in drifting and you didn’t – go back and watch it now. If you’ve no interest in drifting then it might still be worth watching anyway – if any event is going to demonstrate what the fuss is all about, then Round 3 of the Drift Masters European Championship held in Poland is the one.

Why? Well, for starters this is one of the most intense and destructive rounds on the drift calendar. Two, it takes place inside a football stadium, on a custom-built track. And three, there’s fireworks, flames, walls, harder driving and more atmosphere than you can shake a stick at.

All caught up? Here are some of my favourite moments from the event, along with some nerdy technical camera info for you fellow weirdos that like that sort of thing. Add it all up and it comes to just under half a second of light captured…

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Nikon D4S, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/15 sec at f/22 (ISO 50)

At each event, the Drift Masters European Championship invites a handful of top local ‘wildcard’ drivers into the series, such as Poland’s Dawid Sposób. Sometimes these drivers are picked by seeding, or by a standalone event that takes place prior to the DMEC round.

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DJI Mavic Pro
Exposure: 1/380sec at f/2.2 (ISO 100)

When did you last see a football stadium turned into a drift track? The setting in Płock is truly one-of-a-kind.

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Nikon D750, 35mm f/1.4 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/4 (ISO 100)

Jordan’s Ahmad Daham chats to the Shanahan brothers. Ahmad is a welcome addition to the championship this year; the Red Bull-sponsored driver has put on a strong performance so far, and his S15’s anti-lag system makes it sound utterly insane on circuit.

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Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/50sec at f/13 (ISO 64)

Baggsy swings his LS-powered Monster PS13 into one of Płock’s most unique features – a roundabout, which drivers have to circle before firing back down the track the wrong way.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/800sec at f/4 (ISO 640)

A big talking point was the return of one of DMEC’s early stars. Piotr Więcek was entered into the event as a wildcard driver and was a crowd favourite.

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Nikon D750, 35mm f/1.4 lens.
Exposure: 1/400sec at f/4 (ISO 100)

While Piotr’s European R34 waited in the wings, the fans were treated to seeing his Worthouse S15 in action (see foreground). Obviously his 2019 Formula Drift car is still in the US, but his 2018 FD car is now back in Europe – where it was built – and was called into action.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/80sec at f/8 (ISO 50)

Piotr’s driving has come on at a frightening rate since joining the Formula Drift ranks. The fact that he managed to lay down a fast and accurate qualifying run with just three tyres on the car (following a de-bead) is a demonstration of his car control. The noise as the rim tore into the tarmac wasn’t as nice, however.

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Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/15sec at f/22 (ISO 64)

Cypriot Enver Haskasap brings two pretty much identical S15s to each event so that he has a backup should his first car encounter an issue.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/4.5 (ISO 100)

Just the week before DMEC R3, rising star Conor Shanahan announced that he’d been picked up as a Red Bull athlete. It’s great to see big brands investing in young talent; I’m pretty confident that Conor will find his way over to Formula Drift at some point.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/1000sec at f/4 (ISO 100)

The layout in Płock was quite unusual. As well as being one of the tightest drift circuits in the world – and in one of the oddest settings – it’s also one of the longest, and features a total of 11 transitions.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/30sec at f/18 (ISO 50)

A ring of concrete walls encircles the track, meaning there’s very little room or margin for error.

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Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/400sec at f/2.8 (ISO 100)

As Austrian driver Brandy Brandner found out. A wildcard at Round 1, Brandy placed high enough to be granted entry for the season.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/6.3 (ISO 50)

It wasn’t long before even the most immaculate cars on the grid were looking a bit worse for wear, (no) thanks to the walls.

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Nikon D4S, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/25sec at f/14 (ISO 50)

Dawid Karkosik showing no fear whatsoever in his RB25-powered S15.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/40sec at f/22 (ISO 100)

The wide, sweeping top corner made it fairly easy to practice slow pans, although I wished those plastic barriers weren’t there.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/250sec at f/7.1 (ISO 100)

Adding to the risk factor in Płock is the inclusion of front walled clipping zones. It’s one thing scraping the rear corner of a car on a wall when drifting, but trying to run the front bumper millimetres from a solid object at speed is pretty risky.

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Nikon D750, 35mm f/1.4 lens.
Exposure: 1/1250sec at f/2 (ISO 100)

Listen to the internet and you’ll hear that James Deane wasn’t gelling with his new E92 Eurofighter, hence why he brought his trusty S14 out in Poland to claw back some championship points. The truth is that the BMW was due to be at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this past weekend, and James simply didn’t want to put himself in a position where he compromised his driving because he knew he couldn’t repair the car in time.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/500sec at f/4 (ISO 500)

Speaking of immaculate BMWs, you might remember me mentioning Ukraine’s Max Miller as one to watch in my last DMEC story. Unfortunately Miller wasn’t on form in Poland, and the car didn’t seem to sit at home on the small circuit. Hopefully we’ll see him back on point in Riga next month.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/7.1 (ISO 50)

Not only was shooting through the tyre smoke a problem in the stadium, but as the drivers doubled back on themselves after the roundabout it also meant that they had to drive back through the screen of burnt rubber.

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Nikon D750, 35mm f/1.4 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/2.2 (ISO 320)

There was plenty of this going on. The paddock after the track closed was alive with crews racing to repair cars.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/6.3 (ISO 50)

Jack Shanahan is having the season of his life. While he’s yet to win a round, he’s been prominent in qualifying all season, and topped out P1 in Poland.

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Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/80sec at f/7.1 (ISO 100)

A generation game – seasoned Polish driver Pawel Trela meets the future star Adam Zalewski.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/80sec at f/11 (ISO 50)

Norway’s Tor Arne Kvia continued his rampage in Poland, qualifying third and driving like an absolute legend. Always full send, every time.

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Nikon D750, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/250sec at f/4.5 (ISO 50)

Driftworks’ Martin Richards edges up to the front clipping point. Martin was pretty much the most consistent at this point on the track, but was let down by mechanical issues during his battles.

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Nikon D750, 35mm f/1.4 lens.
Exposure: 1/400sec at f/2 (ISO 200)

Representing Lithuania, Benediktas Cirba awaits his turn to go.

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Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/1250sec at f/8 (ISO 400)

I can safely say I’ve never shot drifting from the middle of a football (soccer for you lot over there) pitch before.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/1250sec at f/2.8 (ISO 50)

Although after day one it looked more like a lost and found for drift car parts.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/6.3 (ISO 50)

Spain’s only entry into DMEC this year – Juan Antonio Perez Aparicio. His GT-R-engined Toyota 86 looks like a bit of a handful at present, although Juan is slowly taming it. Hopefully he gets to grips with it before long.

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Nikon D750, 35mm f/1.4 lens.
Exposure: 1/400sec at f/1.4 (ISO 200)

Daham waits patiently for the signal at the start line.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/5(ISO 50)

I enjoy close crops when shooting drifting – the rear wheels are an obvious point of focus, and you can completely change how the smoke looks just by adjusting your shutter speed. Go slower and you get streaks of smoke.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/8000sec at f/2.8 (ISO 400)

Or go fast and you can see chucks of rubber and more detail in the smoke.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/250sec at f/4.5 (ISO 50)

Name the model of car… Płock’s walls do a good job of remoulding rear ends.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/2.8 (ISO 200)

Did you guess right? Daham’s S15 is definitely in need of some TLC now. (Thanks to the comments I’ve since learned that it’s actually an S13 with a full S15 conversion!)

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/250sec at f/6.3 (ISO 50)

Shooting angles were pretty limited in the stadium, and it’s also a pretty risky place to shoot. Stand on the outside behind a wall and you risk being peppered with chunks of bodywork; go on the inside and there’s no much stopping a car heading towards you (except for your own ability to react and run).

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/125sec at f/9 (ISO 50)

The light is on your side however, as the stadium is low-sided on three sides, allowing late light to pour in and illuminate the smoke.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/250sec at f/5 (ISO 50)

Kvia going hard again, dragging his rear bumper around the final turn.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/400sec at f/4.5 (ISO 50)

Juha Rintanen taking a different approach and using the wall to completely dislodge his.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/400sec at f/5 (ISO 100)

Every time Więcek’s car came out to play it had a fresh rear light or two fitted, and almost every time it left the track it left minus one or both.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/2000sec at f/3.5 (ISO 100)

Ireland’s Kevin Quinn in a quiet moment of contemplation. Quinn’s S15 is one of the best looking cars on the grid – maybe he was pondering how long it would stay that way in Płock?

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/100sec at f/11 (ISO 100)

Grzegorz Hypki tears open his E30 on the tyre wall on the way towards the finish line.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/4.5 (ISO 100)

Same corner – different direction. It’s odd having a drift track that doubles back on itself, but at least you get two chances to shoot a corner on each run. This is Benediktas Cirba.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/3.2 (ISO 50)

James Deane at sunset. The yellow on the left isn’t a Photoshop filter – I was shooting through the stadium railings with a yellow gate right up against the lens.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/800sec at f/2.8 (ISO 100)

The star of DMEC R3 was undoubtedly Pawel Borkowski. He tore through Rintanen, Karkosik, Deane, Hypki and Więcek to claim the win.

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Nikon D4S, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/25sec at f/18 (ISO 50)

Chasing Rintanen is never easy due to the huge amount of smoke his S15 kicks out. Borkowski overcame this by simply getting closer to his door.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/25sec at f/9 (ISO 640)

The Polish driver chased like no other all day and night. I’ve never seen tandems runs quite so close and exciting.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/160sec at f/3.2 (ISO 500)

Meanwhile, James Deane was the last Irish hope, and had to overcome Polish Dakar star Kuba Przygoński.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/160sec at f/3.5 (ISO 500)

Which he did, but it took a ‘One More Time’ and almost everything James had.

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Nikon D4S, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/2.8 (ISO 500)

Meanwhile, the Polish were on a rampage, with it looking increasingly likely that we’d see an all-Polish podium on home soil.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/200sec at f/2.8 (ISO 1000)

Więcek saw to that, eliminating Germany’s Max Heidrich in the semi finals. I love how the Worthouse S15 pops a front inside wheel on turns.

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Nikon D750, 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/200sec at f/4.5 (ISO 640)

This is definitely the most people I’ve seen at a drift event, and the atmosphere was electric. Oh, and they had pyrotechnics – great from a spectator’s perspective, terrifying when you’re standing next to the cannons whilst shooting.

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Nikon D4S, 300mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/2.8 (ISO 800)

In the finals Borkowski met Więcek and you could not hear yourself think over the combined noise of engines, tyres, and crowd chanting.

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Nikon D750, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/5 (ISO 800)

As they crossed the finish line, framed by 15-foot flames, Borkowski had outshone the Formula Drift star. It had just gone midnight, and Płock had delivered one of the most amazing drift events I’d ever witnessed, in one of the most insane environments I’d shot drifting in.

Bravo Poland. Bravo.

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
jordan@speedhunters.com

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10 comments

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1

Lovely stuff, particularly at a time when a lot of people are becoming jaded with drifting, DMEC seem to be striving to improve the live show and make it more fan friendly.

The real question is who will be the first to add up the shutter speeds?

Author2
Jordan Butters

You did it already didn't you?

3

Even I can't be dealing with that.

4

Okay, I dealt with it. Converted the shutter speeds to decimal (three places after the point) and the total shutter duration for these images is...

0.541s

Well played, Butters.

5

Great shots! Interesting to see the 86 platform slowly taking over for the disappearing Sylvias for drifting.

6

That and newer BMWs are increasingly popular in Europe.

7

Dawid Karkosik S15 has RB25 under the hood, not a 2JZ :). Also Ahmad Daham's car is not really an S15, it is an S13 with S15 bodykit fitted as far as I know.

8

Just checked with Ahmad and you’re right - I learn something new every day!

9

D1NZ set up inside a rugby stadium in 2016, I agree with every single sentiment you mention. It felt fresh, exciting, the atmosphere was absolutely electric. Sadly, we never went back....

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Author10
Jordan Butters

I'm guessing cost is massively prohibitive, that and the issue with a stadium event is that unless you can fill it then it looks completely empty.

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