Round two of the Drift Masters European Championship 2019, at the treacherous and unforgiving Circuit de Croix-en-Ternois in France, saw Northern Irish driver Duane McKeever secure a second victory out of two in his first ever season in European competition. Ireland’s Jack Shanahan would fight his way to second place, while Finland’s Juha Rintanen put on a show to take third. Jack’s younger brother Connor Shanahan would round off the winners in fourth place.
During qualifying, James Deane found form and topped out P1 with a 97 point run, closely followed by Jack Shanahan in P2 with 93 points, and Juha Rintanen in P3 with 92 points.
Heavy rainfall right before the Top 32 would shake things up, with several drivers falling foul of the increasingly slippery conditions. Just as quickly as the rain rolled in, it passed, giving way to a patchy circuit with vastly differing grip levels between wet and dry. The Top 16 would see several international battles that would have been worthy of the finals – with the circuit dried out, the break in the rain wouldn’t last long and a deluge soon followed. The weather did little to dampen spirits, however, nor did it lessen the excitement – Conor Shanahan would take on Jordan’s Ahmad Daham in a closely-fought contest with a tense One More Time battle, and Shanahan taking the win. As the roster dwindled towards the end of the Top 16, the circuit was dry once again, as Juha Poytalaakso eliminated Enver Haskasap and Benediktas Cirba was outed by a flying Juha Rintanen.
One of the stand-out moments of the Great 8 was top qualifier James Deane’s battle with round one winner Duane McKeever. After two battles, and a closely fought One More Time, a slight mistake from Deane followed by an outrageous backward entry into the final hairpin to try and claw back some merit would see McKeever move on to face another Irishman – Conor Shanahan, in the semi-finals. Conor’s brother, Jack would eliminate Juha Poytalaakso on the other side of the Great 8, while Juha Rintanen would claim victory from Grzegorz Hypki too.
The first semi-final between Duane McKeever and Conor Shanahan would be close at first, before Conor would be forced to shut down his car on the last turn, gifting McKeever his second Finals in as many events. In the other battle, Jack Shanahan and Juha Rintanen went toe-to-toe, with clouds of tire smoke billowing out of the back of both cars. Jack Shanahan would just edge Juha Rintanen out, but Rintanen would take revenge on Conor Shanahan in the playoffs to claim the third step of the podium.
The scene was set for the finals – Duane McKeever versus Jack Shanahan. Jack would lead first, setting a fast lap, but with McKeever right there on his door. Switching places and McKeever’s pace over Shanahan was clear, as his 180SX pulled a gap on Jack’s freshly-built GT86. The judges had seen enough – McKeever had outdriven the entire grid, and for the second event in a row would be crowned the winner in France!
Round three takes place at Kazimierz Górski Stadium, in Płock, Poland on June 28th & 29th, 2019. We’ll see you there, but if you can’t make it then be sure to tune into the livestream on Red Bull TV, the Drift Masters European Championship website and the Drift Masters Facebook page.