DRIFT STARS STUN TAURANGA

Motor Equipment News - - FRONT PAGE - Story and pho­tos by Si­mon Chap­man.

New Zealand’s top line De­mon En­ergy Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship com­peti­tors have sig­nalled their de­sire to re­turn to Tauranga for an­other stab at the banked ASB Bay­park Sta­dium cir­cuit.

This year’s Fe­bru­ary event was the sec­ond on a tem­po­rary con­crete-based drift course in­side a sta­dium (the first was the open­ing se­ries round at the Forsyth Barr sta­dium in Dunedin in De­cem­ber last year) and it was en­thu­si­as­ti­cally re­ceived by driv­ers and drift fans alike.

Round win­ner Tom Mar­shall said he en­joyed the new chal­lenge of rid­ing the outer speed­way wall, find­ing the wall ride eas­ier to tackle than ex­pected.

“It was prob­a­bly eas­ier to ride the wall than at Dunedin be­cause it was a con­stant flow,” he said.

“You could get the car on the wall and know that the cor­ner was the same all the way around.”

Mar­shall, who with younger brother Joe, runs a twocar Ever­green-backed drift pro­gramme from Waipapa in the Far North, is one of a num­ber of top driv­ers who have lent their sup­port to calls to re­turn to Bay Park next sea­son for a sec­ond go at a tem­po­rary cir­cuit in­side the sta­dium.

“It’d be mean if they do de­cide to re­turn, “he said. “Maybe they could make it a bit longer, it’s quite short now and it was all over pretty quick. Even if you went back on the way you en­tered so you do a fig­ure-of-eight. It’s al­ways cool when you come out of a sweeper and you ride the wall.”

Former D1NZ Pro Se­ries cham­pion Dar­ren Kelly is an­other driver keen for a re­turn.

An early end to his week­end gave Kelly a good op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the at­mo­sphere from the side­lines. And he said the sta­dium set­ting was the per­fect venue to give fans the best show pos­si­ble in New Zealand mo­tor rac­ing.

“They def­i­nitely have to do it again. The at­mo­sphere in­side there was amaz­ing! The crowd lined all the way around the out­side. Ev­ery­body got in­volved in it, bat­tle af­ter bat­tle af­ter bat­tle ev­ery­one was cheer­ing and clap­ping and just en­joy­ing it.

“It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent at­mo­sphere and style. These sta­dium events are def­i­nitely some­thing we need to keep do­ing.”

Util­is­ing the speed­way walls was a new fea­ture for the De­mon En­ergy D1NZ Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship. Kelly cred­ited a lot of the driver’s lik­ing to the cir­cuit com­ing down to the banked wall ride through turn one.

Cat­e­gory Man­ager Bren­don White said he was buoyed by the sheer en­thu­si­asm the lo­cal crowd had dur­ing the event.

“One stand out thing was Tauranga was the loud­est most en­thu­si­as­tic crowd we’ve ever had at a D1NZ event in New Zealand,” said White.

“For me the thrill of be­ing one me­tre away from the cars rid­ing the wall, the thrill of the loud­est crowd, the driv­ers just felt it. Ev­ery­one was say­ing hands down the best drift event done in New Zealand.”

With so many peo­ple from around the coun­try and in­ter­na­tion­ally at­tend­ing the event over the week­end White said he’d hope the lo­cal coun­cil would sup­port the event.

“We have other coun­cils say­ing we love this event and would love to have it at our sta­dium. That’s go­ing to be a critical thing for next sea­son is who wants us? Who want us to come?”

Bay Park sta­dium round win­ner Tom Mar­shall bat­tles An­drew Red­ward.

Mar­shall with his win­ner’s tro­phy.

BoP bat­tle as lo­cals Jody Ver­hulst and Cole Arm­strong ride the sta­dium wall.

The view from the stands.

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