In a scene paying homage to an intense, skilled league soccer match, Warsaw’s Olympic PGE Narodowy Stadium got here alive as 58 of the highest drifters from Europe and past battled it out in entrance of over 53,000 spectators.
The ultimate spherical of the 2023 Drift Masters European Championship (DMEC) was at all times going to be a spectacle, however this was on a stage that drifting has by no means seen earlier than, anyplace on this planet.
The observe, solely crafted for the DMEC remaining, was a masterpiece. It was constructed in simply three days and demolished hours after the smoke cleared from the ultimate tandem battle.
The journey that led to this historic finish to the 2023 DMEC season started in Eire, earlier than sliding into Scandinavia with stops in Sweden and Finland. From there, it ventured south to Latvia, earlier than touchdown within the coronary heart of Europe, Germany. However it all got here right down to the finale in Poland, with a minimum of six drivers nonetheless within the working for the title.
Heading into the Warsaw weekend, Conor Shanahan was main the championship factors, intently trailed by Finnish rivals Lauri Heinonen and Juha Rintanen, after which Conor’s previous brother Jack Shanahan. Nevertheless, the presence of heavyweight contenders, just like the 2021 and 2022 DMEC champion Piotr Więcek, added a component of unpredictability.
As at all times, qualifying performed a pivotal position in setting the stage for the principle occasion. Solely 32 drivers would get a cross for the battles, resigning everybody else to the stands the place they might begin planning their 2024 comebacks.
World Rally Champion Kalle Rovanperä secured the highest qualifying spot with a 99/100 run. Kevin Piskolty took second, and Lauri Heinonen from Finland – the closest DMEC 2023 contender – third.
Conor Shanahan certified in fifth with a 95-point run, which ought to provide you with some concept of the standard of driving on the pointy finish of the DMEC discipline. The younger Irishman didn’t have it simple within the brackets both, preventing his approach via the likes of Mika Keski-Korpi, wildcard David Sposób, and Portuguese ace Diogo Correia, earlier than going through Poland’s personal Pawel Korpulinski within the High 4, which resulted in an OMT battle.
Conor wanted to beat Korpulinski to safe the championship, and he did so after the gripping rematch. Right here’s the second the belief kicked in after the judges dominated within the Irish driver’s favor.
On the opposite facet of the desk, Lauri Heinonen was additionally on type, conserving his championship hopes alive till the very finish after beating Czech driver Marco Zakouril.
Because the previous drift competitors meme goes, it may solely have been scripted that Conor and Lauri – two of the of the 2023 season’s greatest – would meet within the remaining within the largest drift area on this planet. Finally, the younger Irishman proved precisely why he deserves to be the 2023 DMEC champion, clinching the occasion win as effectively in one of many closest battles of the night time.
Finishing the season podium, Juha Rintanen secured third place general. Piotr Więcek – the defending champion – completed fourth, with Jack Shanahan and Duane McKeever in fifth and sixth locations, respectively.
Surrounded by the most important crowds they’d have ever seen from their cockpits, each one of many drivers that lined up for the 2023 DMEC remaining left nothing on the desk. The battles have been electrifying, and the echoes of followers chanting across the stadium simply added to the entire expertise. A number of the easiest drifters on this planet translated their feelings, pleasure, anger and frustration via their vehicles and onto the tarmac – that’s actually the way it felt.
Conor Shanahan’s dream night time in Warsaw, Poland will probably be etched within the reminiscence of 53,000+ passionate followers who witnessed it firsthand, and lots of extra drift fans worldwide who watched it unfold stay on Purple Bull TV.
The 2023 Drift Masters European Championship not solely showcased the best drifting, however confirmed that this fully illogical however exhilarating motorsport is nonetheless rising. I’m enthusiastic about what new heights may be reached in 2024.
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