NZ Performance Car - - Contents - Mar­cus Gibson

Ihave been in­volved with drift­ing here in New Zealand for the bet­ter part of 10 years; I’ve gone weeks with­out much sleep to build tracks at places like Mys­tery Creek, and I’ve worked as me­dia at plenty of events for the last eight years. So it’s fair to say that I’m pretty pas­sion­ate about the sport. As I sat there at Mt Smart sta­dium for D1NZ round two, watch­ing the con­crete con­sume car af­ter car, I couldn’t help but feel ex­tremely sorry for those left with the re­pair bills, some for more than one car, and there were cer­tainly a few lump-inthe-throat mo­ments as we waited to see if the driv­ers were OK.

Cus­tom con­crete-lined tracks are noth­ing new to the sport, and nei­ther is the car­nage they bring. Thank­fully at this Mt Smart event, nine times out of 10 the crashes in­flicted only min­i­mal dam­age to the cars in­volved, and with the tube fram­ing and fi­bre­glass quar­ters run on most cars, it of­ten looks 10 times worse than it ac­tu­ally is. Even the dam­age on the likes of Phil Suther­land’s Ce­firo was not that bad, con­sid­er­ing he flipped the damn thing.

D1NZ has a very good safety record with driv­ers, and I for one want to see that per­fect record stay in­tact. D1NZ runs un­der MSNZ Club­Sport Ad­vanced, which al­lows driv­ers to run the likes of mo­tocross hel­mets and cheap, in­fe­rior bucket seats. Hell, even some mil­i­tary com­bat hel­mets meet the safety stan­dards listed by MSNZ. With the speeds and prox­im­ity th­ese Pro-level cars now com­pete at, I find it a lit­tle odd that our top drift­ing cham­pi­onship is lumped un­der the same rules as your regular track events. You wouldn’t see a V8 Su­perTourer driver with an MX hel­met on, and strapped into a cheap $200 seat, so why is this ac­cept­able for a top-level drifter? I would like to see the use of such hel­mets and seats outlawed. At min­i­mum an FIA seat with hel­met sup­ports should be manda­tory, and a hel­met de­signed for the types of im­pacts ex­pe­ri­enced in a roll-caged car. Per­haps even the use of the likes of a HANS de­vice should be looked into, some­thing that some drifters around the world are be­gin­ning to use. I re­al­ize in­creas­ing the safety re­quire­ments would add a sig­nif­i­cant one-off cost to each team’s bud­get, but in the long run it’s cheap in­sur­ance when you con­sider what could hap­pen to the driver.

On the lighter side, man did I wit­ness some of the great­est bat­tles I have seen in D1NZ his­tory. It seems like round af­ter round the driv­ers and cars are step­ping up, and the bat­tles are now split by mere half points. My hat goes off to the judges, that’s cer­tainly not a seat I would like to fill.

mar­cus@per­for­mance­car.co.nz mar­cus_nzpc­magazine

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