NZ Performance Car - - News - WORDS: NZPC PHO­TOS: RICHARD OPIE

The De­mon En­ergy D1NZ Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship kicked off the new cham­pi­onship sea­son un­der the roof of Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Sta­dium on a cus­tom course with new teams, new cars, and new liv­er­ies. Check out the ac­tion as two se­ries veter­ans claim the Pro and Pro-Sport round-one tro­phies.

Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Sta­dium has played host to many dif­fer­ent events and sports in its life­time, in­clud­ing rugby, with the mighty All Blacks. But one thing that was never on the radar for the sta­dium was mo­tor sport, un­til the De­mon En­ergy D1NZ Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship Se­ries came a-knock­ing with what was the most am­bi­tious track project in the se­ries’ his­tory — a com­plete cus­tom-built track in­side the in­door sta­dium. To make it hap­pen, crews worked around the clock the week­end be­fore to lay ply­wood, plas­tic, and box­ing be­fore 37,000 square me­tres of fi­bre-re­in­forced con­crete was laid 90mm thick. It was then semi-pol­ished to re­duce the chance of smoke killing the vis­i­bil­ity, and the re­sult­ing track sur­face was a chal­lenge for teams, with grip lev­els chang­ing through­out the week­end as more rub­ber was laid. Re­port­edly, some teams ran tyre pres­sures as low as 10psi in an at­tempt to find max­i­mum trac­tion.

The hype lead­ing up to the event was un­like any­thing we had seen be­fore, and come Thurs­day — when all the teams rolled into town and got their first look at the sur­face — ex­cite­ment had peaked.

The event for­mat was slightly dif­fer­ent for the new sea­son, in that both Pro and Pro-Sport prac­ticed and qual­i­fied on day one, with day two re­served for the real ac­tion — the bat­tles. Pro-Sport had a Top 32 for­mat and Pro an all-new Top 24. To put even more pres­sure on the Pro driv­ers, the top 16 qual­i­fiers ad­vanced straight to the Top 16.

Fans got their first taste of the venue un­der lights on the Fri­day, when they dis­cov­ered what it’s like to have a 2JZ bang­ing the an­ti­lag in­side a sta­dium. The Pro-Sport field saw sur­prise en­try — Bruce Tan­nock in the Achilles Ra­dial S13 — who is do­ing dou­ble du­ties this sea­son, run­ning both cham­pi­onships with only a tyre change to the 235 re­quired for Pro-Sport. Bruce showed his ex­pe­ri­ence when he nabbed P4, but it was Cody Pullen-Burry in his K-Spec S15 who grabbed P1 with an 83-point run. Me­chan­i­cals plagued TJM driver Ben Jenk­ins, who blew an axle dur­ing warm-up and skipped his first run while the crew re­paired the car, only to have two axles blow dur­ing his do or die run. He was not the only driver who didn’t qual­ify, as Keiran Ste­wart also failed to post a score in his MX-5.

The Pro field qual­i­fy­ing also saw drama, with 12 zero-point runs caused by spins as driv­ers strug­gled to come to grips with new builds and the chal­leng­ing sur­face. Aus­tralian Michael Prosenik nabbed P1 ahead of veter­ans like Fanga (P2), and Cole Arm­strong (P3). He is no stranger to D1NZ in his S13, but this round he took the guest spot in the Toy­otaz Ga­lore’s GT 86. ‘The Proz’ nailed a first-up per­fect run of 90.5 — no one was able to come close, de­spite his lack of seat time in the un­fa­mil­iar ma­chine.

Day two kicked off at mid­day and went straight into the ProS­port Top 32. Such a tight and tech­ni­cal track pro­moted door-todoor driv­ing, to the de­light of every­one, in­clud­ing the driv­ers. For many this was their first time driv­ing in com­pe­ti­tion bat­tles, but for the likes of Bruce Tan­nock and Kyle Jack­ways it was busi­ness as usual, as the pair worked through each side of the tree to meet in the fi­nal. A wheel drop by Tan­nock meant Kyle ul­ti­mately won the round — his first ever round win in his long-stand­ing D1 ca­reer. Kyle, who is ac­tu­ally a D1NZ Pro judge, had lit­tle time to cel­e­brate be­fore he got down to the se­ri­ous busi­ness of split­ting hairs in what were some of the best bat­tles we have had the plea­sure of watch­ing on New Zealand soil — a tes­ta­ment to the style of the track lay­out.

In-be­tween the rally cars tear­ing up the cir­cuit, the lo­cal karting guys putting on a demo, and the in­cred­i­ble su­per mo­tards, the Pro Top 24 bat­tle tree played out with plenty of angst and drama. After the dust set­tled, it was Nico Reid, Drew Dono­van, Dar­ren Kelly, and Cole Arm­strong left stand­ing, and ready to square off in the fi­nal four un­der lights.

Nico and Dono­van were the first to face each other, and Nico put the Ev­er­green ‘Tanefa’ into the side of the Mil­wau­kee S15 and stayed there. But his car let him down with a me­chan­i­cal heat-cut, end­ing his night pre­ma­turely and hand­ing Dono­van his ticket to the fi­nal.

On the other side of the tree it was Cole Arm­strong who strung to­gether two near-per­fect runs against Dar­ren to earn his fi­nal spot. This spelled the end of Dar­ren’s night of bat­tles, as Nico was un­able to con­tinue, which handed Dar­ren the third spot on the podium — not bad for the de­but of his Nis­san New Zealand R35. With no real shake­down be­fore­hand, the new build suf­fered only mi­nor teething is­sues through­out the week­end — some­thing Dar­ren was quick to thank his hard-work­ing team for han­dling.

It was now Cole and Drew who lined up for the top spot. The fans were treated to a door-bang­ing bat­tle as the two veter­ans of the sport showed how they earned their fi­nal spot. But as close as it was, it was Cole who kept his cool, and ran a bet­ter line to take the win. “I knew Drew was def­i­nitely on me — it’s one of those things where you can look in your mir­ror and be like, He’s on me!” Cole said, “But you’ve just got to put that be­hind you, do the line, and, hey, I was lucky enough to come out on top. I def­i­nitely thought it was a onemore-time, it was so close! I’m pretty stoked with how ev­ery­thing’s turned out.”

No sooner had the smoke cleared from some epic in­door vic­tory skids than the clean-up crews moved in to erase all traces that D1NZ had come to town. It may have taken an epic 72 hours to build and set up, but in only 24 it was gone, as if it had all been just a dream.

Hats off to all the De­mon En­ergy D1NZ team for mak­ing it hap­pen, and to all the Dun­ners lo­cals for show­ing their sup­port, it was an epic event that will go down in his­tory.

A less grippy sur­face and a very tight, tech­ni­cal track pro­moted one thing — door-to-door ac­tion all week­end long. This is the type of drift­ing we love!

With a new sea­son comes new looks, and new liv­er­ies. Brad Smith’s now-tur­bocharged 350Z was cer­tainly a stand­out in the looks depart­ment No this wasn’t a Pro-Sport en­trant, the NZ Sil­ver Fern Rally was in town and put on one hell of a side­ways show

Drift cars don’t come much tougher look­ing than the lat­est ‘Fanga’ Dan Wool­house cre­ation, a wide-body VF Com­modore. Fanga will be Fanga, though, and he didn’t shy away from the walls, even with those flash R8 tail-lights Bruce Tan­nock is do­ing dou­ble-du­ties in the Achilles Ra­dial S13 this sea­son, run­ning both cham­pi­onships — re­quir­ing a tyre change to suit the regs. This will give Bruce some se­ri­ous track time mov­ing for­ward in the sea­son, and with a sold-out Pro-Sport class, no other Pro driv­ers will be able to dou­ble stint this sea­son

It wasn’t just four-wheel drift­ing on track, with the su­per mo­tards hold­ing it down for the two-wheeled ma­chines for a lit­tle Satur­day entertainment The Pro-Sport cat­e­gory seems to go from strength to strength, with a sold-out sea­son of 40 driv­ers. There seems to be another level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism amongst them, with a few team liv­er­ies ap­pear­ing Aussie driver Michael Prosenik took to the wheel of the Toy­otaz Ga­lore GT86, which is now sport­ing a TTi se­quen­tial. After he se­cured P1 with the only qual­i­fy­ing run in the 90s, a me­chan­i­cal fail­ure un­for­tu­nately killed his chances of a podium fin­ish Vin­cent Langhorn may not have taken a podium place, but he cer­tainly de­serves an award for driv­ing his Lau­rel on the re­turn trip from Auck­land to com­pete

D1NZ Pro class judge Kyle Jack­ways took the win in Pro-Sport in be­tween his du­ties as a judge

Phil Suther­land in the Drains and Devel­op­ment S14 — the ex– Gaz Whiter LS7pow­ered ma­chine — looks to be right at home in his new of­fice

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