NZ Performance Car - - Inside Line -

D1NZ Pro-se­ries driver Sky Zhao has dropped a sur­prise an­nounce­ment that he will cre­ate the coun­try’s first ded­i­cated drift cir­cuit at Meremere Drag­way by year end. Need­less to say this got a few peo­ple ex­cited, and crav­ing more in­for­ma­tion, our­selves in­cluded. Af­ter chat­ting with Sky we can an­swer a few burning ques­tions.

The ap­prox. 1km-long Meremere Drift Park will be a tight, tech­ni­cal cir­cuit that fo­cuses on low-speed drifting where big power, or the need to carry lots of mo­men­tum, is not nec­es­sary — but if you have it, a damn good time is sure to fol­low. The idea is to cre­ate a fa­cil­ity that is friendly to both be­gin­ners and advanced driv­ers, with the for­mer be­ing able to de­velop their tech­nique with­out the risk of de­stroy­ing their cars — as­sisted by the open-plan set-up that al­lows ob­struc­tion-free run-off — while advanced driv­ers can push their abil­i­ties to the lim­its by car­ry­ing higher speeds, and us­ing the con­crete-walled straight for prox­im­ity train­ing and nasty wall scrapes, much like those you’ll see at Ja­pan’s Mei­han Sport­s­land.

From the cur­rent lay­out, you can tell Sky has a soft spot for small cir­cuits. He told us, “I started drifting on small cir­cuits in Ja­pan over the last few years, and it’s where I’ve had the most fun. They force you to con­cen­trate on de­vel­op­ing your skills and hav­ing close bat­tles, then af­ter that you can take those skills to a big­ger track and ap­ply the same tech­niques in a higher gear.”

The sur­face will be con­structed from an asphalt mix with poly­mer lin­ing to en­sure bet­ter flex­i­bil­ity as G-forces are forced through the sur­face from the in­evitable multi-car tandems, and to help pre­vent fu­ture crack­ing.

The devel­op­ment will also in­clude a large open-top pit area and sep­a­rate en­trance, ac­cessed from the mo­tor­way turnoff.

In terms of hire­abil­ity, the track will func­tion much like the Meremere ex­ten­sion does cur­rently. Or­ga­niz­ers will be able to hire the track for their own use, be it a pub­lic or pri­vate event, while Sky and his team will host open-to-the-pub­lic-style events on se­lected dates — he hopes to have th­ese ap­prox­i­mately once a month.

Sky will over­see ev­ery­thing as the track man­ager dur­ing the ini­tial stages, be­fore bring­ing a more per­ma­nent man­ager on board to con­tinue.

To stay up to date with devel­op­ment, fol­low the ‘Meremere Drift Park’ Face­book page.

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