The second round of the 2016 Federal Tyres King of Europe Drift Series returned to one of the most exciting venues on the calendar, L’Anneau du Rhin Circuit in France after an impressive debut in 2015. After last year’s success, it would see an impressive 64 King of Europe drivers attend the event, with a total of 114 drivers competing throughout the weekend.
With drift legend and head judge Keiichi Tsuchiya making his first of three confirmed appearances during the 2016 season, he would adjust last year’s layout to ensure that closer battles would leave the huge crowd entertained throughout.
After one of the hottest rounds we experienced in 2015, once again, unpredictable weather would be on the menu this year and a miserable forecast was expected throughout. Luckily it stayed dry for the practice sessions on the Friday evening and Saturday morning as drivers quickly bonded with the new layout, ensuring that constant clouds of thick smoke were once again filling the picturesque French circuit.
With plenty of seat time during practice, the drivers would take turns in qualifying to impress the ‘Drift King’, Tsuchiya. With the 41 ProSeries drivers split into two random groups, the blistering sun would continue for the first, however rain clouds would fall on the track for the second, which was taken into consideration by the judges.
Adam Kerenyi had an unfortunate first start out for his new build for 2016 at Round 1, but as he adapted to the layout the car was looking more impressive than ever. He proved this by laying down the highest qualifying score of the day with 94.93 points.
After two previous appearances within a 10-year period for Dutch driver Remmo Niezen, his legendary BMW E30 would once again grace the competition, this time for the remainder of the season, after struggling to finish his new BMW Z4 build in time. The E30 still proved that it has what it takes as he landed 2nd in qualifying with a score of 94.80.
Andras Molnar unveiled his new 1JZ Nissan S13 build at Round 1, and became the next driver to impress as he took 3rd place in qualifying with 91.97 points. He also achieved the highest entry speed at a crazy 150km/h!
Team Driftbrothers begun their 2016 campagin on a high with their impressive continued consistency in the competition after causing several upsets in 2015 as Joe took 4th and Eli took 5th place.
In the Pro2 series qualifying, Gary Gallopin would achieve 90.50 points to take 1st in qualifying, with Sam Woo in 2nd and Denise Ritzmann in 3rd. 13-year-old driver Riccardo Tonali would impress with a run of 86.50 points to hand him 4th place.
In the Queen of Europe Series qualifying, it would be Denise Ritzmann who takes 1st place, with Corinna Graff in 2nd and Danielle Murphy in 3rd. Despite taking the win at Round 1 East in Poland, Karolina Pilarczyk would be extremely unfortunate during qualifying and after spinning on both laps would miss the opportunity to enter the battles the following day.
With battles getting underway on the Sunday, it would be the Pro2 series who would be the first to enter the track to battle it out for the Top 16. With the recently fallen rain on the track, it would soon dry out as the drivers went face-to-face.
In the Top 4, Riccardo Tonali went up against Hugo Goncalves, a mistake from Goncalves would see the advantage go to Tonali and after a 5-5 scoring in the second run, it would be the 13-year-old who would advance! In the other Top 4, Denise Ritzmann would face Silvano Moreira, and after a one-more-time, a mistake from Moreira would see a female driver face a 13-year-old in the final!
In the small final, Hugo Goncalves would edge past Silvano Moreira in a close 6-4, 5-5 battle to hand Goncalves 3rd place on the podium.
In the main final, Riccardo Tonali went down 6-4 in the opening battle, and then after a mistake in his second run it would leave Denise Ritzmann to sweep up the points to take her first Pro2 victory.
In Queen of Europe, a close battle between Corinna Graff and Danielle Murphy would see Murphy edge through, where she would face Denise Ritzmann in the final. With a 5-5 score in the initial run, a mistake from Ritzmann would see Murphy take her first 2016 Queen of Europe victory in her opening round!
As the huge crowd gathered for the Pro Series Top 32, Benjamin Boulbes would be debuting his brand new Supercharged V8 BMW E93 build as he faced the winner of Round 1, Alois Pamper. After a 6-4, 6-4 tie it would go to one-more-time where Boulbes would make a mistake to allow Pamper to progress. Top qualifier Adam Kerenyi would continue his fine form as he progressed past Nicolas Jouard in the Top 32, and Raffaele Rusca in the Top 16 after a one-more-time battle.
In the other Top 16 battles, despite a 10-0, 10-0 scoring in his Top 32 battle, Adam Frank would fall victim to Alois Pamper after a mistake in his second run. Joe Hountondji would stop Denise Ritzmann who had already confirmed two podium places for the weekend, and Eli Hountondji knocked out 2015 Pro Series Champion Norbert Kovacik. Remmo Niezen, Amerigo Monteverde and Andras Molnar also succeeded in their battles.
The Top 8 would feature an extremely impressive list of drivers, and would undoubtedly become tough for the judges. First up was Adam Kerenyi, who had shown near-perfect form all weekend against Alois Pamper. Despite a 6-4 lead in the initial run from Kerenyi, a mistake in the second meant a 10-0 scoring to Pamper to take his place in the Top 4.
Driftbrothers Eli and Joe found themselves face-to-face, with Joe taking a 6-4, 6-4 advantage to advance.
Andras Molnar continued his impressive run to defeat Amerigo Monteverde and Remmo Niezen breezed past David Meunier.
A mix of rain and sun would ensure that the Top 4 was more challenging than ever. Alois Pamper would face Joe Hountondji, with the slippery surface a mistake from both drivers would see a one-more time battle take place. In the one more time, a score of 6-4, 4-6 to both drivers would see a deadlock. Eventually a 6-4 scoring would see Joe Hountondji squeeze past to deny Pamper his second consecutive place in the final.
In the other Top 4 battle, an initial mistake from Andras Molnar handed Remmo Niezen a 10-0 advantage, and Remmo went on to sweep up the points with a 7-3 score in the second run.
As the small final got underway, Molnar took a 6-4 advantage in the initial run, however Pamper made up for the loss by scoring 7-3 in the second to secure his second back-to-back podium finish in 2016!
The crowd gathered to see Joe Hountondji and Remmo Niezen go head-to-head. As the first battle got underway, it would leave the score at a deadlock with 5 points each way.
In the second run Joe Hountondji would gain on Remmo, leaving Joe Hountondji to take his first victory of the 2016 season!