Finnish driver defeats Ireland's McKeever in final to boost 2023 title chances.
In a stunning display of both talent and speed in Sweden, Finnish driver Juha Rintanen emerged victorious for the first time at Round 2 of the Drift Masters European Championship (DMEC) held at the Drivecenter Arena AB in Fällfors, Sweden. Here is all you need to know:
- Rintanen's incredible performance had the Finnish fans on their feet all day long as he outshone and outpaced his rivals to clinch the win, overcoming Irish driver Duane McKeever in a thrilling final battle.
- McKeever, who would finish in second place for the second year running at this circuit, gave it everything he had all weekend long and kept both the fans and the rest of the grid on their toes.
- In a fierce play-off battle, Japan's Naoki Nakamura showed that he had definitely overcome his Round 1 disappointment and mechanical issues, as he showcased his famous Japanese flair, ultimately securing third as he pulled off a masterclass chase run against Polish driver Kuba Przygonski.
- The event was not without its fair share of unpredictability, as some of the series' biggest names faced unexpected exits in the earlier stages. Kalle Rovanperä, the reigning World Rally Championship (WRC) champion, suffered an unexpected exit in the Top 32 stage against Swedish wildcard Viktor Wettemark and former Drift Masters champion Adam Zalewski pulled out with mechanical issues.
- Irish drivers Conor Shanahan and Jack Shanahan would also see their championship hopes take a hit with Conor going out to Friday's first-place qualifier, Finn Lauri Heinonen, with his brother Jack then going out to eventual winner Rintanen, making it 1-1 between the pairing this season.
- However, the most shocking upset of the event unfolded when current championship leader and reigning DMEC champion Piotr Wiecek was eliminated at the Top 32 stage by Ukrainian driver Alex Holovnia in what was deemed an uncharacteristic mistake by the Polish driver.
- With Round 2 confined to the history books, the Drift Masters European Championship makes its way to Finland’s Power Park on July 7-8.
2023 Drift Masters European Championship standings
1. Duane McKeever IRE 165 points
2. Lauri Heinonen FIN 144
3. Juha Rintanen FIN 135
4. Piotr Wiecek POL 125
5. Jack Shanahan IRE 103
Image: Juha Rintanen of Finland performs during the first stop of Drift Masters European Championship in Fallfors, Sweden on June 10, 2023.