All eyes were on Piotr Wiecek at the fourth round of the 2021 Driftmasters European Championship, as the Polish driver left everyone standing at Bikernieki Circuit in Riga, Latvia, to take the win and secure the title of 2021 champion with a round still in hand! An on-form Benediktas Cirba from Lithuania would fight his way through the grid to take second place, with former champion James Deane rounding off proceedings in third place.
A busy qualifying session saw James Deane once again take P1 with 97 points, with Martin Richards barreling into P2 with an equal 97 and Piotr Wiecek in P3 with 95 points, respectively.
With the forecast rainstorms making way for blue skies and beaming sunshine, the Top 32 burst into action with some heavyweight battles. Andrius Vasiliauskas made an early exit in the Top 32 against Diogo Correia, whilst wins from James Deane, Marco Zakouril, Benediktas Cirba, Martin Richards, Johannes Hountondji, Jack Shanahan, Adam Zalewski, Piotr Wiecek and Juha Rintanen followed, almost as expected. Another Juha – this time Poytalaakso – found a return to form, eliminating Grzegorz Hypki to progress into the Top 16.
A stand-out battle from the Top 16 came in the form of Zakouril vs Cirba, which would go to an exciting One More Time decision before Cirba took the win. Red Bull Drift Brother Johannes Hountondji would also find his feet, removing Martin Richards from the competition in the Top 16 too, whilst a potentially great head-to-head between Jack Shanahan and Adam Zalewski was cut short following an accident on the Pole’s part, granting Jack the win.
In the Great 8, James Deane’s dominance would be tested by an on-form Korpulinski, clearly gelling well with his new S14 chassis. After a One More Time call from the judges, Deane would edge the win following a great chase run. Jack Shanahan, eager for battle, would find himself with the luck of the Irish on his side, as a retirement by Johannes Hountondji would be all it took to gift the young driver into the Final 4. Lithuanian fan-favourite Benediktas Cirba’s route to the Final 4 wouldn’t be quite so easy, but a hard-fought battle with Juha Poytalaakso would see him through as well.
All eyes would also be on Deane’s former Worthouse teammate, Piotr Wiecek, as he chased down a potential championship win at this event. In Wiecek’s Great 8 showdown with Finland’s Juha Rintanen, the Fin narrowly missing out following mistakes in both runs, propelling the Pole into the Final 4 against Jack Shanahan.
In the Final 4 between Deane and Cirba, heavy contact between the two would leave both cars damaged, with Dean’e E92 coming off worse on initial inspection. With a pause in play for both teams to attempt to repair the battered Eurofighters, all eyes turned to the other half of the bracket as Jack Shanahan took on the might of Wiecek. Two of the fastest drivers on the grid, they were well-matched, but still even Shanahan struggled to match Wiecek’s pace through turn two. Shanahan picked up the pace in his lead run, just pulling away from Wiecek and causing the points leader to shallow up his angle slightly to keep up. Still, Piotr’s dominating lead on the first run would be enough to book him a place in his fourth-successive final this year. Deane and Cirba’s battle would resume with two hugely exciting runs, but would come to a bitter end for Deane as a mechanical failure just a few metres short of the finish line relegated him to the play-offs.
The play-off for third place between Irish neighbours James Deane and Jack Shanahan would sadly not materialise, as both teams struggled to solve mechanical issues from their previous respective battles. It would be Deane that claimed the bottom step of the podium based on qualifying score alone.
All eyes would be on an explosive finale between Piotr Wiecek and Benediktas Cirba – both very popular drivers amongst the fans and in the paddock. As the lights went green, a familiar tale would play out in front of the Latvian crowd – Wiecek’s unmatchable pace through turns one and two that would be the nail in the coffin for Cirba. Despite the Lithuanian wringing every single horsepower out of his BMW to keep up, there was little he could do. Piotr Wiecek would take the win, his third out of four this season, and with it secure the 2021 Driftmasters European Championship.