DRIVER PRO­FILE

NZ Performance Car - - 1989 Nissan Skyline Gts (r32) -

nod­ded him through to en­ter in the Pro Cham­pi­onship for the 2013/2014 sea­son at the eye-pop­ping age of just 18.

Pro­gress­ing into the Pro field meant de­vel­op­ment came with sev­eral changes for Joe — the main upgrade, of course, be­ing the brief shift from an RB25DE+T to an RB29, be­fore again step­ping up the game. Re­cently fin­ish­ing his se­cond sea­son in Pro, Joe now runs a 440kW RB30DET com­plete with forged in­ter­nals, Gar­rett 35/82 tur­bocharger, Sinco man­i­fold, and a Tur­bosmart waste­gate, all kept cool by a new ra­di­a­tor and in­ter­cooler set-up thanks to Fenix Ra­di­a­tors. The Sky­line has also been equipped with a cus­tom­ized Keto Steer­ing Sys­tem, al­low­ing for max­i­mum steer­ing an­gle. Townsend Brotherz Rac­ing (TBR) has jumped on board heav­ily over the last year to en­sure that Joe can al­ways leap into the car with con­fi­dence, chang­ing it dras­ti­cally ev­ery race day to en­sure the R32 is di­alled in specif­i­cally for each in­di­vid­ual track at any given time. The Kuku­tais have been con­sis­tently blown away by the sup­port from TBR, with Joe stat­ing, “We now have one of the fastest cars in D1NZ, and nine times out of 10 we have to dial grip out of the car to avoid hit­ting the com­pe­ti­tion. TBR has ac­cel­er­ated our com­pet­i­tive­ness dras­ti­cally; I owe a lot to Kaz — he is with­out a doubt the best in the busi­ness.”

He’s kept true to type with his RB plat­form among the stiff V8 com­pe­ti­tion in the se­ries, and we had to ques­tion his en­gine loy­alty for the fore­see­able fu­ture. His re­ply? “Run­ning a V8 in drift­ing is like eat­ing a big-ass cheese­burger with a knife and fork — f***in’ bor­ing.”

At 19 years old, Kuku­tai still re­mains the youngest D1NZ Pro Driver in the field, and he brings with him an en­er­getic and per­son­able at­ti­tude that eas­ily wins sup­port from fans of all ages.

When asked where his in­spi­ra­tion comes from, Joe was quick to re­spond, sim­ply say­ing Naoki Naka­mura. Given Naka­mura’s Ja­panese ag­gres­sion and stylish flair, it is not hard to see why Joe as­pires to drive like the D1 Street Le­gal leg­end, and he’s even in­cluded el­e­ments of Naka­mura’s style in pre­vi­ous liv­er­ies on the Sky­line.

Keep­ing Joe grounded and fo­cused through­out his time on track is his crew chief and father, Denny. “I’m al­ways thank­ful to have my dad be­side me at the track,” Joe told us. “He’s been such a big part of my life for 19 years. It is ab­so­lutely awe­some to have some­one that I can truly trust with me in the pits. He is the best mo­ti­va­tor for me, and I could never ask for any­thing more.”

Sit­ting com­fort­ably in 13th po­si­tion at the end of the D1NZ 2014/2015 Pro sea­son, Joe was un­for­tu­nately un­able to at­tend the fi­nal round due to brake-fail­ure is­sues — not what you want hap­pen­ing with the in­fa­mous 200kph en­tries at Pukekohe Park Race­way.

The progress Kuku­tai has made over the time be­tween pick­ing up his Nis­san Sky­line in 2011 and his re­cent D1NZ Pro ca­reer is un­de­ni­ably in­tim­i­dat­ing, and will re­main a hot topic among com­peti­tors lead­ing into the next cham­pi­onship. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how Joe de­cides to grasp the next sea­son of D1NZ and what changes will be made to his R32. We’re not sure about you, but we think that his thirst for the crown, ag­gres­sive style, and ‘smash the gas’ at­ti­tude will have us all guess­ing … DRIVER/OWNER: Joe Kuku­tai AGE: 19 LO­CA­TION: Auck­land OC­CU­PA­TION: Man of few tal­ents BUILD TIME: Four years LENGTH OF OWN­ER­SHIP: Four years THANKS: Dad, Mitch Cow­ley, my fam­ily and friends for all the con­tin­ued sup­port, Rock­star En­ergy Drink, Blas­tacars, TBR, Gull New Zealand, Lux­ury Sports, Keto Steer­ing Sys­tems, Rota Wheels, Kuku­tai Trans­port, Garmin, Ze­ro­class, Fenix, NZ Wiring, ST Hi-Tec, Am­pli­fied Cus­toms, Richard An­der­sen — Graph­ics, Joe’s Me­chan­i­cal Ser­vices, Drift­di­rect, and ev­ery­one who’s sup­ported me in the past!

Joe has cer­tainly earned him­self a rep­u­ta­tion as an ag­gres­sive chase driver who’s not afraid to swap paint with any­one

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