NZ Performance Car - - Con­tents -

Tere­tonga Park played host to its first com­pet­i­tive drift­ing round af­ter a long six-year ab­sence, when Drift South rolled into town to kick off the 2017/’18 sea­son. An­tic­i­pa­tion was high, and the event even drew re­tired com­peti­tors such as Glen Pupich and Paul Tom­lin out of re­tire­ment — the only two com­peti­tors to have run the track be­fore, in rounds be­tween 2009 and 2011.

Tere­tonga would rate as one of the faster drift­ing tracks in the coun­try, though, com­pared with other venues, there’s a slower start — you pick up speed through the sec­tion that sees most give the rev lim­iter a good bash­ing in fourth gear.

Track width — or lack of it — com­bined with high speed made for a real chal­lenge, and, for those driv­ers who ex­pe­ri­enced it for the first time, the thrill was ap­par­ent in the pits af­ter prac­tice. The down­side was that lower-pow­ered cars strug­gled through the judged sec­tion, par­tic­u­larly in the De­vel­op­ment Se­ries, where a few non-turbo cars re­ally strained to link up the whole sec­tion, though the smiles were just as big on those driv­ers’ faces.

The south is known for the oc­ca­sional drop of rain, so not many were sur­prised when the prac­tice ses­sions switched from the dry on Fri­day to wet Satur­day morn­ing, but the fact that it again dried up for the rank­ing bat­tles re­ally caught a few folk out. This is the se­cond sea­son that the rank­ing bat­tle for­mat has been used, in which each driver gets three bat­tles with ran­domly se­lected op­po­nents, and the scores then set the bat­tle tree of the top 16 — ev­ery­one loves more bat­tles, right?!

The usual play­ers were look­ing strong in prac­tice. Last sea­son’s champ, Dan Cur­rie, and run­ner-up, Shel­don Kneale, had both made up­grades in the off sea­son and didn’t take long to pick things up. On the other hand, lo­cal favourite Scott Welsh was still deal­ing with me­chan­i­cal is­sues right through prac­tice. Paul Tom­lin looked strong early, only to suf­fer a driv­e­line fail­ure in the wet, and be­ing seven hours away from needed parts meant that his week­end was over.

Te­muka-based Josh ‘Snoop’ McMil­lan was back in the re­built Ce­firo af­ter his crash in D1NZ, and he scored first equal with Shel­don Kneale in qual­i­fy­ing. Hot on their heels was the re­turn­ing Glen Pupich and Jacob Cuth­bert, round­ing out the top four head­ing into the elim­i­na­tions.

No big sur­prises in the top-16 round meant that the top eight qual­i­fied driv­ers all went through. Corey Far­rant and Bro­gan Mooney had to go one more time due to a mis­take each, with Far­rant in his 180SX even­tu­ally go­ing through to the top eight, where he had to go one more time again in a bat­tle of the 180s against Shel­don Kneale, who took the win.

An un­lucky draw for Snoop meant that he was knocked out in the top eight against de­fend­ing champ Daniel Cur­rie, de­spite pour­ing the smoke on, Cur­rie’s speed help­ing to take the win. Snoop later found that he had been run­ning only 10.5psi of boost for the week­end, which didn’t help with chas­ing the 2JZ mon­ster.

New­comer Jacob Cuth­bert bat­tled it out with an­other home­town driver, Brad Knight, who also per­formed very con­sis­tently through to the top eight, with Cuth­bert in his S13 tak­ing a close win to move to the semis.

Scott Welsh was slightly dis­ad­van­taged by Glen Pupich, but was thrown a life­line when Glen slid off on the fi­nal cor­ner, only for his diff to later seize and pre­vent him ad­vanc­ing fur­ther, thus gift­ing Shel­don a fi­nals chance.

Cuth­bert al­most took out reign­ing champ Cur­rie from the podium run­ning, caus­ing Dan’s chase drift to stut­ter, but Dan was again the lead run king and locked him­self in. That was a solid ef­fort by Jacob, get­ting third in his se­cond-ever Pro Drift com­pe­ti­tion.

The week­end ended with an­other Shel­don and Dan fi­nal. Again, Shel­don showed con­sis­tent an­gle through­out the sec­tion, and Dan’s rocket ship needed small corrections to tuck in be­hind. Both runs were hard to pick and needed a re­run. The bat­tle looked iden­ti­cal the se­cond time around, but Shel­don slid wide on the last cor­ner, and Cur­rie stamped his mark with an­other win.

The judges com­mented that the course is one of the hard­est to judge, and, as the sec­tion is so long and nar­row, there was re­ally only one line to take, though the high speed meant that it topped the en­ter­tain­ment list.

Thanks to the south­ern lo­cals and South­land Sports Car Club for hav­ing us down. Hope­fully, we’ll be back soon. We’re look­ing for­ward to an­other good sea­son, with round two com­ing up on De­cem­ber 2 on the same sec­tion of Mike Pero Mo­tor­sport Park, Rua­puna run by D1NZ the last time it vis­ited Christchurch.

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