– Event summary of this year’s 5th anniversary Iron Drift King Championship. –
“WELCOME TO DRIFT ISLAND
In 2023, more than 100 top athletes will climb into the steel arena and send their up to 1200 hp racing cars to a duel! And 2023 will be special: we are celebrating 5 years of spectacular drift action, 5 years of nerve-wracking twin battles and 5 years of pure emotions with you!”IDK
Welcome to our exclusive coverage of the IDK – Championship in Gräfenhainichen, Germany. For this weekend, we collaborated with Maik Mittelstädt of drift-bulletin, who brought you these amazing photographs. This year marks IDK’s 5th anniversary, along with round 5 of Driftmasters, we’re in for one of the biggest, if not the biggest, event of its kind ever. It´s taking place in Ferropolis, the iron city in eastern Germany, where an abandoned coalmine serves as the setting for this hell of a show.
Thursday – The calm before the storm.
Starting on Thursday with several free practices, drivers were able to acquire a feel for the course, which is spectacularly flanked by a slew of ancient mining excavators and similar machinery. The day also featured Driftmasters wildcard qualifying, which permitted three drivers to compete in Driftmasters qualifying on Friday. Sebastian Fontijn (91 points), Tor-Arne Kvia (87 points), and Andreas Lilja (86 points) were the lucky wildcard winners.
The weather changed dramatically during the day’s final training session. The track became impassable within minutes as water flooded the entire circuit. As a result, the session was postponed, and most driverstands in the paddocks were also submerged throughout the night.
On Friday, we had a full program with IDK-Qualifying beginning in the early afternoon and battles beginning in the evening and lasting till midnight. We’ve seen a lot of nice runs from the bulk of the drivers since qualifying at 3 p.m. local time. If qualifying for Driftmasters wasn’t enough adrenaline for you, with the highest average scores in history, the star-studded grid of IDK wasn’t any less exciting.
Friday – Let the competition begin with qualifying!
The ”Norwegian hammer”, Tor-Arne Kvia, claimed the top spot once more, like he did at DMEC-qualifying as a wildcard hours before, with two incredible runs of 96 points in his first and outstanding 98 points in his second run. Andreas Lilja from Sweden also put on a show in his Toyota Supra, scoring 88 points in his first run and an astonishing 95 points in his second. Sebastian Fontijn of the Netherlands finished third after demonstrating excellent consistency throughout the day. He scored 91 points in his first run and 89 in his second.
Mikolaj Zakrzewski of Poland finished fourth with 91 points, while fan favourite Nikolass “NikNak” Bertans finished fifth with 90 points. Conor Falvey, 15, in his magnificent S15 with 87 points, Jaime Fourel, France, with 86 points, Mikkel Overgaard, with a freshly built E46, with 86 points, Bas Mul in his 4th IDK-outing (84 points) and Andreas Anker from Denmark (84 points) were completing the top ten.
Heading onto Top 32 – it’s the battle time!
At around 7 p.m., once the dust and rubber had settled, we proceeded to the Top32. Tor-Arne Kvia versus Kevin Brunberg, in his big 900-horsepower strong Volvo, marked the start of some exciting battle pairings. With that huge Volvo skimming the barriers, Brunberg was able to keep a close chase, but it was Kvia who grabbed the win with two pinpoint-perfect runs.
Simen Olsen of Formula Drift took on German Jan-Eric Seeber next. They fought hard and close, bringing two of the coolest cars into battle, but the decision wasn’t going to be easy. Olsen didn’t have the finest line and missed a couple of zones while leading, Seeber was better in the pursuit than Olsen in the second run. The judges signalled an OMT.
Olsen ran totally off the line in the lead again, but luckily for him, Seeber made contact while chasing. The German gave it his all and finished a strong second run. The judges had a difficult time with these two and decided on another OMT. Both drivers had strong runs; Seeber’s lead was stronger, while Olsen’s chase was the better one. After significant discussions, the judges awarded the victory to Seeber, who eliminated one of the podium candidates early.
The fight between Danish Mikkel Overgaard and the young Irish Fionn Roche was equally memorable. Overgaard had a strong lead in the first run, but Fionn was close behind. The second run was even closer as if the first wasn’t close enough. Overgaard correctly predicted Roche’s tactics and mimicked his transitions, but the Irish laid down a solid lead run that ensured him the win.
Another important battle matched “NikNak” Bertans against Archie “Sugar” Harmer. Bertans made one of his rare mistakes and drifted off the course, hitting the wall while leading. The young Latvian is widely known for his precise chase, and this time was no exception. The two had true door-to-door action. However, it was Harmer who claimed the victory, thanks to NikNak’s error and a very solid leadrun on an almost perfect line. Early on, the Irish eliminated another favorite.
The sunset, and the Top16 knockout began.
Tor-Arne Kvia faced up against Jan-Eric Seeber in the Top16’s first match. Kvia took the lead and executed an almost flawless run, just like he did in qualifying. Seeber’s proximity in pursuit was good, but he had to make numerous corrections. Seeber didn’t make many mistakes on his lead run, unlike Kvia, who ran slightly off track and crashed into the wall. Unlike the car, the driver was unaffected, and Seeber won.
Other notable battles include Roche vs Bas Mul, which earned an OMT after the first two runs. Both gave it their all again and fought very close to one other, with Roche struggling with Mul’s pace and losing to him. Sondre Erga of Norway eliminated Archie Harmer because the pace differences were too great for him. Piter Kozlowski was defeated by Swedish Andreas Lilja. This match had the greatest horsepower, with over 2200ps on the line. Lilja won the race with two incredible, powerful runs.
The night has come, and the Top 8 will be up next.
The opening race in the grand eight was a duel between Bas Mul and Jan-Eric Seeber, in which the German crashed his 370Z into the wall while chasing Bas. It was a big hitter, and Seeber couldn’t get the second run started and Bas Mul proceeded to Top 4.
Next up were Mikolaj Zakrzewski of Poland, with his massive Toyota Soarer, and Sondre Erga of Norway. Erga had to work hard to keep up with the polishman’s pace. Both runs were very close, and the judges did not choose a winner. A One-More-Time should deliver the decision after Mikolaj has put in another superb leadrun. Sondre has experienced some difficulties and needs to straighten up. This was possibly the reason for the loss to the Pole after a challenging second run.
Andreas Lilja was up against Jaime Fourel of France. Andreas was the one who showed the Frenchman what he had in the first run. Fourel worked hard to keep up, but made a few minor errors in chase. Unfortunately for the Swede, he comes too hard around the turn and hits the wall too hard, earning him a zero for the second run and handing Jaime the victory.
The last matchup was between Sebastian Fontijn and Conor Falvey. Fontijn demonstrated his consistency in every run, and this one was no exception, as he delivered a textbook leadrun. Conor’s car obviously shut down in chase, but in his lead run, he pushed hard and hoped for some errors by the Dutchmen. Fontijn, on the other hand, didn’t have to do much to win, and he did.
The finals will go on till midnight.
The day gradually came to a close, but not before we entered our final battles. Mul faced off against Zakrzewski in the opening match. This was a battle to remember, as both were pounding on the other’s door, and the runs couldn’t go any closer. In the end, Zakrzewski loses control of his car on the final clipping zone of the second run, handing the victory to Bas Mul, another very consistent Dutch driver.
Who would advance to the final, Fourel or Fontijn? Fourel couldn’t keep up with Fontijn’s pace, so the answer came quickly. Fourel had a solid drive in the lead, almost oversteered, but managed to stay on track. Fontijn followed well, knocking on Fourel´s door and earning him the win.
Fourel and Zakrzewski battled for third place, with the latter smashing his heavy Toyota through the turns once more. French Fourel was fighting to catch up with the Pole´s speed. Despite the Frenchman’s strong lead, Zakrzewski outperformed him and came very close to the BMW. The decision was simple, and the Pole finished third at this year´s Iron Drift King.
The final was all Dutch, with Fontijn facing fellow Dutchman Bas Mul in a thrilling title fight. They’ve had a crazy first run together, with Fontijn propelling his car steadily away from Mul, who was in the chase. Bas was doing everything he could to stay up, but Fontijn was far faster. Then there was the second run, which was even crazier than the first! Sebastian Fontijn demonstrated his mastery by anticipating every move from Mul, driving flawless transitions, and knocking on Mul’s door. This was arguably the day’s best chase. It’s also worth noting that Bas Mul did an excellent job as a leader. But it was Fontijn who became the Iron Drift King 2023!
1st Sebastian Fontijn (NED)
2nd Bas Mul (NED)
3rd Mikolaj Zakrzewski (POL)
4th Jaime Fourel (FRA)
Thanks for reading.
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Text: Peter Striesenow (drift_europe)
Photos: Maik Mittelstädt (drift-bulletin)
Edit: Klaidas Ragainis (drift.news)