Deane & Co. – Motorsport success for Falken in 2017
This year has been a strong one for Falken Tyre on the motorsport front. It has racked up a plethora of titles from its motorsport activities and also secured a first victory in the VLN Endurance Championship as well as a top-ten finish at the notoriously challenging Nürburgring 24-hour race.
One of the highlights is Irish drifter James Deane’s success in the Formula Drift Pro Championship. The 26-year-old from Castletownroche claimed this year’s championship title in his Falken Nissan S15. Deane secured an impressive four victories during the season and finished third at the finale at Irwindale Speedway on his birthday. His points sweep helped Falken take the Tire Cup championship for the second year in a row, beating four other tyre brands to the honour.
Deane longed to compete in Formula Drift and chase the coveted drift trophy since seeing good friend Darren McNamara compete in the USA as part of the Falken Drift Team at the end of 2009. He took part in a few events during the 2010 season with a Falken Tyres Nissan S15 and was determined to return. “It opened my eyes to Formula Drift and what it could offer,” says Deane. “It’s long been my dream to do a full season and thanks to the great support I’ve received it’s been possible to make this dream a reality in 2017.”
Since the age of ten, Deane has been hooked on drifting and started competing when the minimum competition age was dropped to 15 in 2006. Starting with a Sierra Estate prepared by the family business, Deane Msport, he soon began progressing through the ranks. He switched to a Nissan 200SX and in 2008 won both the Irish and Prodrift European Championships.
In 2012, Falken Tyres came on board to support Deane as he contested in a Falken-liveried RX7 in the Prodrift Ireland and the European Drift series. Shod in Falken FK453 street tyres, Deane won the Irish drift championship and the first-ever Nürburgring Drift Cup.
More titles followed in a Nissan Silvia S14 on Falken’s Azenis RT615K championship-winning street tyre, which were required due to the increased pace and power of the S14. Champion trophies for the 2015 and 2016 European Drift Championship, 2015 Irish Drift Championship, 2015 and 2016 Drift Allstars Championships made their way into Deane’s trophy cabinet and he also made appearances at Goodwood Festival of Speed to give crowd-pleasing drifting demonstrations.
This year it’s been a new Deane Msport-prepared car taking honours, an S15. “The new car is a fabulous machine,” says Deane. “The engine, a 3.0L 2JZ-GTE is tuned to 750bhp. There’s a direct-port nitrous kit too, which adds another 150bhp so total power is 900bhp. When the throttle goes past the 80 per cent mark, the nitrous is triggered.”
“It’s been a tricky car to drive but we’ve fitted Falken Azenis RT615K+ tyres to help tame it,” explains Deane. “We’ve got 235/40/18 tyres on the front and 295/40/18 on the rear in the Plusversion of the original RT615K. Many people don’t realise that you actually need the tyre to have a high level of grip for drifting. You need to go sideways fast and accelerate through the corner. Although the car is constantly sliding, you need as much grip as possible to get the forward progress. It’s really important at this level of competition.”
The partnership between Falken, Deane and the Worthouse Drift Team has been a fantastic success this season and Deane was delighted to fulfil his long-standing dream: “To win the Formula Drift title on my birthday, and with so many fans having come over from Ireland, made it extra special and very emotional. It’s been a dream season.”
Deane’s fantastic result has topped off an array of triumphs for Falken this season. In the King of Europe series, Red Bull Drift Brothers drivers Joe and Elias Hountondji claimed the champion and vice-champion titles. Having battled hard against each other throughout the season in their Falken Azenis-shod 600hp machines, just 28 points separated them after the last round. Falken saw further success with Polish drifter Karolina Pilarczyk crowned ‘Queen of Europe’ for the second consecutive year after finishing second in the final Queen of Europe drift event.
Further accolades came at the Nürburgring with a first-ever overall victory in the VLN Endurance Championship from the Team Falken BMW. Its BMW M6 GT3 also finished eighth in the 45th ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24h race. Driven by Peter Dumbreck, Alexandre Imperatori, Stef Dusseldorp and Marco Seefried, the team showed excellent performance on the Falken rubber throughout the heat of the day racing, the cooler night hours and the sudden rain shower as the race reached its conclusion.
As well as on-track performance, Falken has also had teal and blue triumphs in the skies with pilot Yoshihide Muroya being crowned Red Bull Air Race World Champion. He claimed four victories during the season, including a win at the final event in the US, with high-precision flying skills making him the first Asian pilot to take the title.
“These successes are a fantastic confirmation for our athletes as well as our products, our brand and our company. And most of all, for the many, many members of Falken who have supported these projects with heart, soul and professionalism. The wins are also crowning achievements for our ‘Masters of Excitement’ campaign, which was launched in Europe this year,” comments Stephan Cimbal, head of marketing at Falken Tyre Europe.