James Deane back on top at the Swedish Drift GP

Extreme Drift Allstars Round 3 – Latvian Drift GP Results

Europe’s top drift drivers descended on the city of Riga, Latvia, as Extreme Drift Allstars presented round three of the 2015 season and the Latvian Drift GP. A capacity crowd, a legendary circuit and testing weather conditions culminated in one of the most exciting and popular events in the calendar.

Following his first win of the 2015 season in Sweden last month, current champion James Deane was gunning for a repeat performance, securing third position in qualifying. He was beaten to P1 in qualifying by local Latvian champion Janis Eglite, who Deane would end up meeting in the final. A sudden downpour during the final battles pushed the drivers’ talents to the limits, but it would be Deane who would take the win, further increasing his points lead in the race for the 2015 championship.

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Biķernieku Circuit, nestled within Biķernieku forest in the heart of Riga is an instantly recognisable fan and driver favourite. Spectators are treated to a unique perspective of the action as looming Soviet tower blocks on one side of the circuit sit in stark contrast with the dense pine forest on the other. For the drivers, Biķernieku offers a fast, flowing and technical challenge, with unforgiving walls and aggressive undulations that send the cars airborne during a fast transition. Over 60 drivers stepped up the challenge, and with only 32 spots available for the tandem battles, competition would be fierce from start to finish.

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A street parade through Riga city centre on Friday evening drew a capacity crowd for Saturday’s main event, with over ten thousand more tuning in via the online livestream. Qualifying saw the top Extreme Drift Allstars regulars pitted against a host of local Latvian talent. Fan favourite Janis Eglite executed an incredible qualifying run in his 800bhp Tri-Ace Tyre BMW E46, taking top position. Sweden’s Fredrik Sjodin put in a strong performance taking second position, with Falken Motorsport/Level One Qatar driver James Deane completing the top three trio.

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Seeded Drift Allstars competitors were on top form for the tandem battles, but the local drivers were looking to upset the balance. Drift Allstars regular Juha Pöytälaakso from Finland took a surprise early exit in the Top 32 after a strong performance by local driver Eriks Ulass. Despite being no stranger to Biķernieku, Nigel Colfer couldn’t progress his Tri-Ace Tyre 180sx past the Top 16 either as Fredrik Sjodin looked on unstoppable form.

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Having won last year’s event, Latvian Kristaps Bluss made his way past Dennis Martinssen in the Top 32, before disposing of Norwegian Fredrik Oksnevad in the SPY Optic Toyota Soarer. He would then take the fight to Australia’s Luke Fink in the Tri-Ace Tyre Silvia, securing a place in the semi finals where he lost out to fellow countryman Janis Eglite. Another strong performer from 2014’s event, Bartosz Stolarski, would also battle his way to the semi finals where he would meet an on-form James Deane. Glorious sunshine quickly gave way to a short, sharp downpour, with Deane adjusting to the tricky conditions well and securing his place in the finals against Eglite.

In the third place playoff, Bluss would meet his match as Stolarski pushed his way past the Latvian, and onto the bottom step of the podium. It was time for the finals!

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As the vocal crowd got behind their hometown hero Eglite, he headed into battle against Deane in the finals. Under greatly-reduced grip levels, the two drivers skillfully navigated Biķernieku’s turns at high speed and with great precision, just inches apart. So close were the runs that the team of Drift Allstars international judges turned to slow-motion livestream replays to reach a final decision. As the sun set over Riga it would be James Deane who found himself on the top step of the podium once again, further extending his points lead going into round four in Estonia.

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We came into Riga knowing that it was going to be the toughest event of the season,” commented James Deane. “The conditions were a challenge and with over 60 drivers and some amazing cars in Riga this is definitely the biggest win we have had in quite a while. Now I can’t wait to drive in Estonia this weekend!

The season is now in full flow, and with round four this coming weekend on 7-8th August, the drivers only have a few days to repair their cars and regather their pride before heading to Tallinn for the Estonian Drift GP.

Final results from the Latvian Drift GP – Round 3:
James Deane – Ireland – Falken Tyres/Level One Qatar
Janis Eglite – Latvia – Tri-Ace Tyre
Bartosz Stolarski – Poland – Toma Racing

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