NZ Performance Car - - Inside Line -

Af­ter miss­ing round one in Welling­ton, se­ries veteran Drew ‘ Doni D’ Dono­van came in hot at his home-town round in Tau­ranga to claim his first win within the Link ECU D1NZ Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship. Hav­ing com­peted in the se­ries nearly six years, Drew came into the bat­tles af­ter qual­i­fy­ing 18th and took out ‘Philthy’ Phil Suther­land to progress into the top 16.

There, he was met by sec­ond-place qual­i­fier Vin­cent Langhorn, who would wheel drop on the teardrop and not fare well for the rest of the bat­tle, hand­ing a win to Drew. From there, Drew would face round-one win­ner Matty Hill, in the top eight, with Matty spin­ning on his chase run af­ter ‘one more time’ was called. Drew would go on to beat three-time drift king Gaz Whiter, who strug­gled with temp-cut is­sues. This put Drew into the fi­nal for a home-town hero bat­tle royal be­tween him and Cole Arm­strong — and it wouldn’t come without con­tro­versy.

Cole had shown all night why he de­served to take the win, and the pair bat­tled hard through the first run, with Cole ahead of Drew. The judges called it an even run, due to an equal num­ber of mis­takes. It wasn’t un­til the sec­ond run that con­tro­versy hit the night, af­ter Drew spun in the lead po­si­tion on the exit of the teardrop loop, fol­low­ing a con­tact from Cole. It wasn’t clear at the time what had hap­pened and where the de­ci­sion might fall, with many mem­bers of the crowd declar­ing Cole the win­ner; it ap­peared that the pair thought the same when re­turn­ing to the start line.

How­ever, up in the judges’ tower, there was no sign of ad­van­tage ei­ther way and, with no con­clu­sive ev­i­dence to at­tribute blame, a ‘one more time’ was called.

The fi­nal runs were clean — re­ally clean — and it wasn’t un­til af­ter the judges had spent con­sid­er­able time re­view­ing re­plays that it was de­ter­mined that Drew’s line was a more ac­cu­rate and slightly bet­ter one than Cole’s in both the lead and the chase.

The win puts Drew into cham­pi­onship con­tention, de­spite his miss­ing the first round, and he tells us that it puts him into se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion for pur­su­ing the ti­tle.

The D1NZ Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship picks up again at Ti­maru In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Race­way, Ti­maru, over March 9–10.

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