After rounds at Kazimierz Górski Stadium in Płock and Torún’s Speedway Stadium excited Drift Masters European Championship (DMEC) fans in Poland, all eyes turned to another stadium arena, this time in Łódź, an hour’s drive from the Polish capital.
Prior to this event I’d never been to a stadium drift event, so when DMEC published their 2022 calendar, I wasted no time booking my travel and accommodation.
Round 6 of the DMEC championship – the final round of the 2022 season – featured a custom-designed circuit framed by merciless concrete walls. The commentators were throwing around numbers of a quarter of a million euros to build the course, just so over 20,000 European fans could enjoy the spectacle live during the weekend.
And indeed it was a spectacle.
The championship had come down to a four-way battle between Poland’s Piotr Więcek and Ireland’s Jack and Conor Shanahan and James Deane. After five rounds of competition, many of the cars that lined up for the finale were near physical breaking point.
This fresh circuit wasn’t difficult to drift per se, but finding the limit was definitely a challenge. The result of this was more carnage than I’ve ever seen at a drift event.
After the first day of practice and qualifying it was hard to find a car that still had a functioning set of rear lights. Others weren’t even drivable. All of this action left an uneasy feeling in my stomach before the tandem battles.
Every one of the top contenders made it to the show, but the Top 32 was something out of the ordinary. Conor Shanahan, the event’s top qualifier, kicked things off when his mechanics were unable to fix his car after the final practice session, so he didn’t make it to the start line at all.
It did surprise me at first, but as the battles went on a pattern started to emerge. In the end, only six tandem match-ups were completed in the Top 32 competition.
During the Top 16 parade, drivers had a moment to clear their heads before the final session.
Now it was Piotr, Jack and James who mathematically were fighting for the title.
All four Ukrainian drivers did qualify for the Top 32, but only Max Miller progressed to the Top 16. Here he is just before and right after his inspiring speech on the situation in Ukraine. He single-handedly silenced the whole stadium for a moment, before the crowd let out a massive cheer in support.
By the time the Top 16 introductions were done and the battles had begun, it felt like every possible Murphy’s Law scenario had already played out. But then the skies opened up and the two-day-old tarmac became glossy wet.
Jack Shanahan, known for his aggressive style, didn’t seem to care much for the rain and flicked it in on initiation. A little too much though, resulting in a painful loss for his championship hopes.
But the crash that went viral the second it happened in real time was the incident between Diogo Correia and Oliver Evans. The Portuguese driver also charged too hard into the first corner, and ended up moving a concrete barrier, unfortunately right in line with Evans’ back wheels.
What followed was a number of visually beautiful, but slow and cautious battles in the rain before the big final.
In the end, it was the hometown hero Piotr Więcek up against Welshman Oliver Evans, who somehow was able to come back after taking flight for a moment. The finale was unprecedented: the Polish driver made a mistake and gave away the round win to Evans, who had to limp home with a three-wheel-steering Nissan.
Everything that could go wrong did go wrong at the final round of DMEC 2022, but it didn’t stop Piotr ‘The Candyman’ Więcek from defending his title and in the process becoming a two-time Drift Masters European Champion.