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Record numbers in Riga for the Latvian Drift GP

2016 Drift Allstars Round 5 – Latvian Drift GP

Round five of the 2016 Drift Allstars season brought with it action, drama, excitement and some of the craziest drifting ever seen in the Baltics, as the Drift Allstars tour rolled into Latvia, and took over Bikernieki Circuit in Riga!

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Following on from his top podium placing in Estonia the week before, Falken Motorsport driver and reigning champion James ‘The Machine’ Deane was unstoppable in competition, first locking down P1 in qualifying before mercilessly overcoming anyone who stepped in his way during the battles, and taking the win once again.

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Bikernieki Circuit is nestled amongst thick forest at the edge of Latvia’s capital city, Riga. The fast and flowing track has been testing drivers for decades, but the return of professional drifting to this unique venue is a favourite fixture with fans.

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One of the most popular stops of the season with drivers, Bikernieki is a track that rewards the committed and severely punishes any lapse in concentration. As a record number of fans tuned in on the Livestream (300,000 views whilst live, with a current reach of 2 million people), and the stands at Bikernieki filled with spectators, we were in for a treat!

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A parade event the evening before saw 30+ competition drift cars take over the streets of Riga, rolling into the Old Town in style and attracting throngs of new fans, despite the inclement weather.

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In qualifying, Deane once again proved why he’s the best in Europe, laying down an inch-perfect qualifying run in changeable conditions. Second qualifying position went to Poland’s Piotr Wiecek, and Norway’s Lasse Tonby surprised the judges in his first Drift Allstars event of 2016, locking down P3 with a near-textbook run.

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By the time the Top 32 stage of tandem battles was over, the Top 16 comprised of mostly Drift Allstars seasoned pros – the Latvian Drift GP was going to be a war between the heavyweights of European drifting! James Deane and Fredrik Øksnevad met first, in a pairing that would have been worthy of any final. The young Norwegian Øksnevad matched Deane turn-for-turn in the first pair of runs, forcing a call of ‘one more time’ from the judges and, eventually Deane’s progression into the Great 8. Local Latvian hero Janis Eglite battled Australia’s Aleksandar Kantarovski at the same stage in the competition. Eglite’s hometown advantage couldn’t extend far enough however, and Eglite bowed out early, much to the crowd’s dismay.

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Fredrik Myhre bought with him a host of passionate Norwegian fans who cheered him on throughout the tandem battles. First Ola Jaeger and then Jako Pino fell to Myhre, before he swiftly dispatched Kantarovki in the Greta 8. James Deane was the only person who could stop him, as Deane yet again booked his place in the finals.

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Finnish champion Juha Pöytälaakso was on great form, progressing past Ela Koko and Pawel Borkowski before meeting Piotr Wiecek in the Great 8. A small mistake from Wiecek on turn one gifted Pöytälaakso a place in the Semi Finals. His opponent would be Lithuania’s Andrius Vasiliauskas, who was also hungry for the win after a strong showing in Estonia the previous week. Vasiliauskas put up a fight, but couldn’t stop Pöytälaakso.

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Deane’s path to the trophy was riddled with some of Europe’s best drivers, but it fell to Pöytälaakso to try and defeat the Irishman in a tense final battle. Deane’s driving was flawless and consistent, and Juha simply couldn’t match the pace of Deane’s Falken Motorsport S14. The win marks Deane’s third first place this season, his second in as many weeks and a strong push to lock down his third consecutive Drift Allstars championship title. Can anyone bring down The Machine?

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This coming weekend the show goes on, as the 2016 Drift Allstars championship arrives at Eurospeedway Lauscitz, south of Berlin, Germany, for the 2016 Reisbrennen tuning event and the German Drift GP. Over 30,000 fans are expected in attendance as the best drifters in Europe go head-to-head on this high-speed circuit. See you there!

Final results from the Drift Allstars 2016 Latvian Drift GP –

1st. James Deane – Ireland – Falken Motorsport

2nd. Juha Pöytälaakso – Finland – Power 2 Drift

3rd. Fredrik Myhre – Norway – Federal Tyres

Event Recap Videos

DAY ONE

DAY TWO