After an extremely hot weekend at Anneau Du Rhin in France, both metaphorically and literally, Round 1 of the 2015 Monster Energy King of Europe Drift ProSeries has come to an end. The chosen layout proved to be quite difficult, and required a good amount of skill and concentration coming from the drivers. After several practice runs they started getting to grips with the track, and constant thick clouds of smoke were rising up above the French track, much to the joy of the thousands of fans that came to see the race. Team Cartu Drifting driver Adam Frank threw down some solid qualifying runs, which were both very fast and on the right line, getting him 1st place in the qualifying session by the end of Saturday. King of Europe series veterans Nobert Kovacik, Calin Ciortan and Szilvezster Gyorgy were not far behind occupying 3rd,5th and 6th places. From the French side of the barricade, just Antoine Amar and Benoit Magoules managed to qualify within the Top10, while Swiss driver Nicolas Maunoir was 7th and the Hountondji brothers finished 9th and 10th.
As per usual, everyone was anxious to see the Top32 battles on Sunday. As people started coming in early morning, the drivers were still out for practice, and it was becoming obvious that 5-6 of them were really on top of their game, showing great promise overall. Adam Frank continued along the lines of his qualifying session, and was advancing to the Top16. Massimo Checchin and Amerigo Monteverde , both representing Italy also met little ressistance from their opponents, and they were also advancing on to the next step. After a good performance in qualifying, Eli Hountondji was stopped along the way by Swiss driver Raffaele Rusca.
Calin Ciortan was having problems all weekend long, both with his car and with going around the track the way the judges were asking him to do it. He lost both of his Top32 runs against Matt Campling and his new Mazda MX5, powered by a Toyota JZ engine. Both Nicolas Maunoir and Szilveszter Gyorgy smashed their opponents by winning 10-0 in both runs. Driftworks driver Phil Morisson drove the DW86 to victory in the battle against Florian Zimmerman in the large DTM style Audi. While both Joe Hountondji and Christian Lewis won their Top32 batles , Steve Biagioni was surprinsingly not able to defeat Antoine Amar from France, and he was knocked out of the race early on.
Adam Frank continued to drive hard and it just took him 2 laps to eliminate Massimo Checchin from the competition. Matt Campling automatically got a bye to the Top8, with Adam Kerenyi not being able to come to the start line after destroying his gearbox. Both Amerigo Monteverde and Norbert Kovacik faired very well against their opponents and so they both went through to the next level. Surprising results in the battles between Phil Morrison and Antoine Amar and the one between Szilveszter Gyorgy and Christian Lewis. Although Phil and Szilveszter were basically considered to be part of the favorite drivers for the weekend, they were eliminated out of the competition by their adversaries, leaving them with no option but to watch the rest of the race from the side.
After 2 consecutive victories, and an 8-2 in his first run against Benoit Magoules, Adam Frank decided not to play it safe, but instead go as hard as he could, and a little too hard he did. Because of getting 2 wheels of track, he was given a 0 in their second run and he was now out of the race. Antoine Amar’s success was also short-lived, as he was defeated by Joe Hountondji in the Frankenstein LS powered Nissan RPS13. Norbert Kovacik and Amerigo Monteverde continued to leave a good impression by advancing to the semifinals.
After Benoit Magoules had a technical failure he was forced to abandon the race, making way for Amerigo Monteverde and his brilliant LS powered Nissan S14 towards the final battle. It was a tight race between Norbert Kovacik and Joe Hountondji but eventually the Slovak driver claimed his spot in the big final as well, leaving Houtondji in 3rd. In the last battle of the day, Norbert Kovacik got a slight edge over Amerigo Monteverde, winning their first run 6-4. Then, both of them went a little too crazy, running of track and being individually awarded a 0, leaving Amerigo Monteverde in 2nd place for his first ever King of Europe podium, and Norbert Kovacik in 1st after quite some time since he’s last won a European Round.
Things will get even trickier as the season moves on, with both Adam Kerenyi and Adam Frank upgrading their machines even further for Round 2 in Karpacz, in mid July, and a few new cars just waiting to be unveiled soon. With 7 more rounds to go, it it still difficult to make any predictments regarding what is going to happen until the end of the year, as the situation might change drastically in the last race, as it has in the past as well.
Photos King of Europe, eyedea media