Ireland’s most exciting young motorsports talent and one of the brightest rising stars of global drifting, Conor Shanahan (17) from Mallow, County Cork will tackle the 2020 Drift Masters European Championship (DMEC) with a fresh new look and a renewed will to win, now officially part of the Red Bull athlete family.
Shanahan started drifting at the age of nine and competed in the Irish Amateur Drift Championship. At the age of 13, he featured on an episode of UK TV show, Grand Tour, competing against host Richard Hammond.
He became the youngest driver to win European, British and Irish professional drift events, making his debut in the DMEC in 2018, beating fellow Irishman, DMEC and Irish National champion, James Deane, in the Polish round of the championship.
As a full-time Red Bull athlete, Shanahan joins global sporting stars such as Neymar Jr, Max Verstappen, Lindsey Vonn and Irish athletes Thomas Barr, Greg Callaghan and Conor Maguire, amongst others.
“The car is looking unbelievable and it’s been a dream come true to see it finished,” said Shanahan.
“It is a real proud moment for myself and my whole family. It has a brand new engine, new gearbox and an awesome livery with the Red Bull branding on there. Hopefully, we can challenge for wins this season and regularly be among the top three.”
While the 2020 DMEC is still to be confirmed, Shanahan has, like Red Bull Formula One drivers, Max Verstappen and Alex Albon, been spending more time on his racing simulator at home.
“I’ve been virtual drifting for six years, and even for my first event, I learned the track and based the car set up on what I learned from the sim, so it is a great background to have.”
“I think if you can use a simulator you can drive the car – and sometimes the sim is harder to master than the actual car. For me, the sim is a massive part of my career and always has been.
“Fanatec and Digital Motorsport came on board to hook me up with a pro-level racing sim and I have been competing virtually before this year and the general rise in people racing on sims. We have the VDC, the virtual drift championship, and I finished second, so we were quite happy with that – there are a lot of good drivers competing.”
Ireland has emerged as an integral part of the drifting scene, and that is underlined by the traditional season-ending DMEC event at Mondello Park, and the spectacular Japfest event which brings together a celebration of Japanese cars alongside the drifting competition on the track.