ALL HAIL THE KING
CROWNING 2018 D1NZ DRIFT KING
Whiter forced Armstrong to pedal hard, pulling a decent gap during his lead run, but the defending champion wasn’t holding anything back on his own lead run, with a 196kph initiation — also claiming the fastest speed for the weekend. The tight battle would have the judges lean towards Whiter, awarding him his first round win since returning to the series, giving him enough points to elevate his championship standing from ninth to third and narrowly edge out Hill by just 18 points.
On coming fourth overall, Hill said: “I never even thought I’d be coming up against these guys, being so competitive this early on in my career here … the quality here in New Zealand is crazy compared to what I’m used to back in Australia.
“The driving quality here is unreal ... I love driving here more [than in Australia]. I literally do not want to go home and would do another season right now.”
Whiter said that it was a big surprise to come back and get third overall: “We did it three seasons ago after a terrible run … [This season] has been a testing one. It’s about being consistent, and we did’nt have that this year with car issues. But, driving-wise, we were pretty confident and qualified top overall here at Puke.
“I had a blast out there with Cole pushing the car to the absolute limit. You feed off each other, and you need to keep
pushing to make everyone better, which is what we like to do. It makes it more enjoyable for everyone, more enjoyable to watch, and just pushes everyone further and further. It’s just good fun.”
With Armstrong in second for the round, it would bump Kelly back into second on the leader board and retain Armstrong the title by just seven points’ difference — the first back-to-back championship win since Whiter did it six years ago with a triple streak.
On coming second, Kelly said: “It’s a mixed feeling [to finish the championship in second]. Obviously, we were coming into the final leading; to finish that close is a little disappointing, but it’s a first and second for the team, and we knew it was going to be a fight to the end, for sure.
“Cole’s driven amazing this year, and so has everyone else — the whole field has stepped up massively. It’s been a tough season for our team, and hasn’t be a dream run by any means while getting the car dialled in throughout. Although we’ve had two podiums this season, a first and a second, and up there with qualifying … next season, we want to get some more seat time and fine-tune the car to get back in that [title] contention.”
And, from the back-to-back DK himself, Armstrong told us: “Consistency is key, man. This season, we tried to build an old car into something competitive, and it goes to show that, no matter what chassis we’re in, we can put together a really solid package
pro-sport rookie Liam Burke claimed the pro-sport title, finishing 82 points ahead of Jordy Cole. during the podium presentaion liam dropped on one knee and popped the question to his partner Lasharn to wrap up a solid season in the measure up S13
he got to do consistent runs in his car; no issues, no faults.
“It wasn’t the best season this year — I had a few mistakes, a few crashes — but we just kept striving and pushing. It’s unreal to come here and go one-and-two with my good friend Darren [Kelly]. Next year, we’re going to work something really cool, because, if both of us can put our knowledge together, it’s going to be a force to reckoned with.
“Next year is [set to be] his year. We can only help each other get to where we want to be and the achievements that we can get could be global, you know? Who knows where things could go. We had some awesome runs out on the track together. Bring on next year.”