Well, where to begin with this latest blog from Prodrift Round 4 at Tullyroan Oval, Co. Tyrone.
During the week prior to this round, I changed my rear differential, and gave the car a general check over as well. With these few jobs done, and the car fully cleaned up and polished. I was all set for the long trip up north for the weekend. We got the van and jeep all loaded up with spare parts, fuel and spare rims and tires. For this trip the crew were Danny, Nathan and my brother Gavin.
We got on the road just after 10.00am on Saturday morning, as our practice was not until late that evening which was great, as we tipped away up the road at our ease.
We stopped here at Barns Restaurant for a bite to eat for our first stop in Dublin on our route.
We struck off again, and stopped for some few supplies and some fuel just this side of the north of the country.
We had arrived. Tullyroan Oval!!!
Firstly, I got signed up, and watched some of the semi pro drivers practice session, before I got the car unloaded and ready for our own practice session later. I was impressed by how hard the semi pros were driving and executing on this new track.
Saturday Evening Pro – Practice :
I got suited and booted, and lined up in the queue. I watched the first five or six cars and the speed was pretty impressive, and also I noticed the grip from the new surface, so I adjusted my tire pressures to suit. I got to the gate and was aligned alongside Team WKD Imports main man, Wesley in his white Nissan 180sx. I drove my first lap of the course to get a feel for the car, and also the new track and its clipping points. Overall, after a couple of runs of practice I was happy enough. Not so much with the driving, but the track and car were good.
I looked into few things after practice with the car, suspensions setup, tire pressures, and spoiler adjustments. The pit crew made some other changes to the car early Sunday morning and these were very noticeable to the car and its performance. Thanks lads
I stayed on to watch the semi pros top 32 battles and the finals as well. There were some amazing battles and some excellent driving from all the drivers in this class. Well done guys The final battles were just insane. Fantastic to watch. After the Saturdays event was over, I was asked over for a bite a grub, to the Shannahan Car Sales truck, where we had a great feed. Thanks lads for that
So it was back to our hotel, just down the road from the track for an early nights sleep and rest.
Sundays Main Event :
I arrived at 11.00am at the track. Briefing was at 12.00pm I got the car fitted up with some tires, and fuelled up again for practice. While I was at briefing, Danny and Nathan had made some more changes to the car and, just told me when I came back to the car, “sit in, drive, and drive hard”.
So, first practice lap, first corner, big difference straight away. The car felt better balanced and smoother throughout the course. I was much happier than what I had been, on Saturday evening practising.
I queued up alongside Team MG Crash Repairs driver Brendan Stone for a run in practice and remember looking across at him in the car, and saying this is going to be some fun trying to follow this guy!!!
Little did I know, that my car was capable, and the way I was driving , that I was also capable as well of being able to keep up with his 600 to 700bhp monster of an Nissan S15, powered by an RB26 engine.
Even for the remainder of practice, I drove the car harder and harder and I was committed to carrying this driving though to qualifying.
To come out of practice hearing that I was the fastest car throughout the morning, I was delighted. I felt excited about qualifying now that I was really happy with the car and how things were going so far. Your qualifying grid position goes on where you lie in the championship, so I was 7th car to take to the track Here we go. 2 laps no warm up. My first lap, I put in an ok lap, one that I felt would get me into the top 16 but not in a great position. Second lap, I went a lot harder, and rubbed the clipping points on the wall numerous times, and knew it was a better run than the first. All I could do now was wait and see, had I qualified for the top 16.
Their was another briefing to announce this, and I managed to qualify in 6th place. Happy with this as the guys in front were on form and really pushing it to the limit.
Next up was the super lap. Here I was not as fast as I had been all day, but at the same time happy again to have made it into the top 16 with how stiff the competition was all weekend once again.
I qualified in 10th and drew Barrys Motorsport/Nankang Tires sponsored driver, Paul McCarthy in top 16 and I knew that this car was not going to be easy to beat, as he has had fantastic grip all season at every round so far. It was my first time meeting Paul in a battle. I followed first, and stuck to Paul as good as I could. I was able to stay with him for all the course and finished the run happy enough, that I had done well following him.
We switched around, and Paul followed. I knew that I had to be ready to give it everything when we got to the cone after the rolling start. I did just that, and managed to pull away a little bit after the transition from Paul and when we finished the lap, I was shaking inside the car, wondering had I done enough to beat him. I awaited the judges decision, and yes…I had got through to the top 8. I was delighted to have beaten such a competitive car this season.
I got the boys to give the car a quick check over after my top 16 battle. We got the car fuelled up and awaited the call from track marshal Milo. I drew Japspeed/ Maxxis Tires/ Monster Energy driver Shane O Sullivan, who if you guys remember from round 2, I drew him again in a top 8 battle, where he went on to beat me. I was out today to beat him this time. Shane had qualified ahead of me, so he led first. I was ready and fully concentrated on winning this battle. I was welded to Shane’s back bumper from the off. We got to the cone, and I planked the right foot as hard as I could. Into the first corner we go, Shane initiates shallow enough and I tried to stick to the wall where the qualifying line was, and managed to close a good gap on him, and initiated under the judges into the top corner alongside his passenger door. I stuck with him, through the middle part of the circuit and around the last corner. I could see from my supporters by the in gate, they were smiling and cheering me on mad, so that was a good inkling to me that it was not over yet, and I may actually beat him.
I started the second run in front, and my team radio told me be ready to just go flat after the cone and as quick as I could. I did just this, and went into the first corner as hard as I could, I wanted to try get away from him early in the run if I could. I could hear from the wall scrapes inside the car, that I was on the wall clipping points and was grazing them at speed. We finished the run and parked under the judging tower to await their decision. I remember looking straight up at the judges to see them clapping both of us. We must of put on a good show I said to myself to watch just there. I had done enough to manage to defeat Shane this time.
You would not believe the excitement of me inside my car at that moment. I was roaring to myself and just over the moon. Everything was causing this. From being into the top 8, beating after beating 2 championship winning podium contenders in my first 2 battles and my car performing very well.
So with two battles down, who was I going to be drawn against next. None other than MG Crash Repairs sponsored driver Brendan Stone. I had practised with Brendan in the morning as I said earlier, and knew it was not going to be easy to battle him, but at the same time he was going to be wiping his hands to me that easy. I lined up at the start line alongside him thinking this is going to be a hard battle.
I led first, and got on well for most of the course and was happy enough but knew Brendan had been right on me throughout the lap, so I had to be close when following him.
We took off together to the cone with Brendan leading this time, and I made sure to stay tight with him entering the first corner. I was amazed again, how he actually did not pull away to much from me until…we were just about to transition into the middle part of the circuit, and while we were coming around the top corner, rather than watching the outside wall, I was watching the moves of Brendan’s car trying to stay as close as I could and as a result was up to high on the bank and glanced off the wall and straightened slightly, he had gotten away. I could not catch him and knew that was it. It was too much of a mistake to of made to take the win, so Brendan moved onto the final.
3rd/4th place play off.
I was to be drawn against the loser of James Deane vs. Damien Mulvey. I had not time to watch this battle, as I went off to get my car checked over and to make sure everything was ok. I lined up at the gate again and as I was waiting, I see the recovery vehicle entering the track. Oh no says I, whats gone wrong now. Damien had hit the wall with a big impact and managed to do a lot of damage to his car. James Deane moves on. I then knew at this stage that I was to be battling Damien. Due to not being able to get the car fixed, and ready for battle straight away, Damien was forced to retire, which meant I was going to be taking third spot on the podium.
Was I excited at this stage or what. I could not believe it. I was asked then did I want to complete just one lap on my own to show I had taken 3rd spot. I said yes indeed. I remember as I entered the track, the following, cheering, of fans at the in gate was just great, I really was so happy to see everyone cheering me on and to see they were happy for me to take third spot. Thanks lads
The eventual final battle went onto to be Full Stop Auto/Falken Tire driver James Deane in his beautifully prepared Mazda RX7 built by DeaneMSport sporting a SR20det stroked engine, against the gorilla man himself MG Crash Repairs driver Brendan Stone in his RB26 powered Nissan S15 Silvia. The battle had to be re-run to decide on a winner, and it eventually by a narrow gap went to James Deane. Well done James and a huge well done to Brendan also for putting up a great fight.
Well done to everyone who competed at Prodrift round 4, you were all on it, and were driving very well for a new track all weekend.
So its off to Japfest for round five, the final round of the championship, where again it has come down to the final to decide the overall championship winner. Best of luck to the top contenders, Brendan Stone, James Deane, Damien Mulvey, Shane O Sullivan and John Paul Mcarthy. With numerous rumours of some top quality drivers coming across the water and from far and behind to compete at this event, it sure is going to be one hell of a weekend for drifting action at JAPFEST on SEPT 9th!!!
Hope to see you there, and I will be back to give a full report from this event, right here on OMGDRIFT.COM later in the month.
Thanks for reading: