DRIFT STARS STUN TAURANGA
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.