Ireland’s rising star of the drift circuit, Conor Shanahan (Mallow) claimed his second-ever podium finish in round one of the 2021 Drift Masters European Championship at Greinbach, Austria, where he unveiled his brand-new Toyota GT86.
Just one month after celebrating his 18th birthday, Shanahan was good enough to win four head-to-head rounds to reach the final, beginning with the top 32. Also celebrating a podium finish was Shanahan’s older brother Jack, who won the playoff round for third place.
The last time the younger of the Shanahan brothers graced the podium was in 2018 when he beat former series Champion James Dean to stand on the top step in Poland. Three years later, Shanahan has established himself as a championship favourite at the opening event.
Shanahan’s first opponent in the Top 32 was Denmark’s Mikkel Overgaard, who the young Irishman beat to set up a Top 16 contest against Sweden’s Felix Lindvall. As the competition ramped up to the finals, Shanahan beat Finland’s Juha Rintanen in the Top 8, before securing his place in the final by beating highly-rated Polish opponent Adam Zalewski in the Top 4 round.
Come the final, it was Shanahan against Piotr Więcek, with the Cork driver looking to secure his second Drift Masters podium. However, it was his opponent who was awarded the win by a panel of three judges in an intense final that saw the Polish driver cement his status as one of the best drifters in the world.
Shanahan commented: “It was just amazing to be in a final again. The last time was 2018 and it means a lot to get back in there and then go and share a podium with my brother Jack. I knew it would be a tough battle against Piotr, he’s one of the best drifters in the world. But no matter who I’m battling, I just pull up to the starting line, put my visor down and go. I never had the attitude to worry about who I battle; I just try and get the job done but today we were a little short.”
During round two on Sunday, both Jack and Conor Shanahan reached the Top 8 battles after producing some superb driving. Conor eventually succumbed to Zalewski in the race of the day, while Jack would suffer gearbox failure in his battle against Benediktas Cirba. Zalewski would go on to secure third place after overcoming Christopher Bohm in a play-off battle, while Cirba took on Więcek in the final. In the final race of a thrilling weekend, Cirba would suffer clutch problems and had to shut down his car halfway through his run, gifting the victory to Więcek.
The 2021 Drift Masters European Championship next moves on to Riga, Latvia for Rounds 3 & 4 on July 31 and August 1.
DMEC Driver Standings:
- Piotr Więcek POL 212 points
- Conor Shanahan IRL 141
- Benediktas Cirba LTU 138
- Adam Zalewski POL 137
- Jack Shanahan IRL 124
Round 1 and 2 replays on Red Bull TV.