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Feilding's favourite drifter hoping for hometown advantage

  • Written by D1NZ Admin

 

The penultimate round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship has just one hometown driver who wants to win, Jaron Olivecrona.

The Feilding drifter is a regular at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon hosting drift days for the Manawatū Car Club. While the facility was initially built for circuit racing the proliferation of drifting in New Zealand has meant the circuit is often home to sideways action.

This weekend the D1NZ circus rolls into Manfeild for the penultimate round of the 2018 championship. The circuit is a staple of the calendar that has been part of the schedule since the series started in 2003.

Drivers will compete and be judged on their line, angle and style by three judges. Battles see two cars complete a lead and a chase run across the designated drift section. The winner of each respective battle proceeds through a battle tree of top-24, top-16, top-eight, semi-final and a final.

Olivecrona is a well-known name in the Central North Island for his drift days. With so much track time under his belt, he heads to the circuit with high hopes.

“I’m pretty confident because I get to drive the track so often,” Olivecrona said.

“With it being my home track I am pretty comfortable when it comes to drifting the circuit.

“The goals are always high. I really want to see this car get a podium finish this season and to have it at my home track would be massive for us. A podium is always where we’re aiming.”

This season Olivecrona debuted a brand new engine package. The Nissan Silvia S14 that he drives originally comes from Japan fitted with a factory-built four-cylinder engine, but this year he decided to shoehorn a custom-built five-litre V12 into the drift weapon.

The powerplant came out of a Toyota Century, but was given an extensive overhaul by none other than engineering ace Nelson Hartley, brother of Formula 1 driver Brendon Hartley.

Olivecrona’s Silvia is the first competition drift car to be fitted with a V12 engine in the history of the series. Revving to over 10,000 rpm and making nearly 600Kw, the car has quickly become a crowd favourite.

With three rounds completed this season and an extensive testing programme underway Olivecrona believes this weekend is his chance to shine.

“The reaction has been massive. We’ve run the V12 at Manfeild and it really seems to like that track and likes to rev high,” he said.

“I’m pretty excited and hopeful that we’re going to do quite well this weekend. It took a few rounds to really get dialled in and get it to where we wanted it to be. The car is really good. I’m loving it.”

The fourth round of the calendar will see over 70 drifters across the Pro and Pro-Sport Series compete over Friday and Saturday.

Olivecrona will contest the highest division of the series, Pro. There he’ll face stiff competition from four-time champion Gaz Whiter, and former champions Darren Kelly, Cole Armstrong and ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse.

The level of competition has reached new heights this season. Woolhouse brings with him a brand new Ford Mustang, which was built in the United States of America by Vaughn Gittin Jr.

Armstrong comes into this weekend leading the championship and is the reigning champion. Factory-backed Nissan driver Darren Kelly sits second in the standings.

Olivecrona said he knows it’s going to be a tough slog, but getting onto the podium would be hugely rewarding.

“I think the competition is going to be pretty hard as it always is at this level of drifting. Those guys have been doing it for a long time and they can do things with their car that are pretty crazy.

“It would mean a lot to get onto the podium. It’s not just me who has to put in the effort to get the car there. For the whole team and how much time they spend on the car, it would mean heaps to see a smile on their face.”

The fourth round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship takes place at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon over April 20–20. For more information visit D1NZ.com or NZXMS.co.nz. Tickets are available via iTicket.co.nz.

Third time's the charm for Pro-Sport title hopeful Liam Burke

  • Written by D1NZ Admin
 

 

After finishing runner-up in the opening two round of the 2018 season, Northland’s Liam Burke has finally got his first win in the D1NZ Pro-Sport Series. 
 

 

Burke defeated round two winner Jordy Cole in a rematch of their final Baypark battle. This time in Timaru, however, Burke took the top spot.
 

 

Burke said he was stoked to finally get a win under his belt following the two second place finishes in Wellington and Tauranga.
 

 

“I’ve been waiting for this moment, we’ve been trying so hard to get there,” Burke said.
 

 

“There’s still a few threats out there so I’m definitely not relaxed heading into the final two rounds. But having the points lead now is huge for us, its massive.”
 
It was an impressive comeback for the Team 13 drifter who by his own admission struggled in qualifying to lay down a high scoring run. 
 
It was an uncharacteristically low scoring run that put him 10th in the order on Friday and meant he had to face some strong opposition to get through to the final.
 

 

“I was having really good runs in practice, but when I got to qualifying I cooked it. I don’t know what happened. I just went out and it felt like crap.
 

 

“I ended up qualifying 10th so I really had to step my game up for the battles. But we managed to pull through and everything went my way.”
 

 

Burke got the best of David Hunter in their top-16 battles, but the top-eight battle against Kyle Jackways was especially tough. Fortunately, Burke got the win and proceeded through to the top-four against Kurt Blackie.
 

 

Burke managed to stretch his legs in a battle that took place on a readjusted circuit following a track breakup during the other top-four battle.
 

 

He was especially stoked too given his finals rival Jordy Cole took pole position by 14 points over the nearest opponents a day earlier in qualifying.
 

 

It’s been an impressively quick climb to the top for Burke who debuted his Nissan Silvia S13 in the Pro-Sport Series last year at the second round in Feilding. 
 

 

However, with two rounds remaining and a title on the line, Burke said he’s not afraid to step up to the Pro Series if he takes out this year’s championship.
 

 

“I’ve got heaps more to work on. You look at the Pro drivers versus the Pro-Sport drivers and it’s another level above. I’d definitely make the move up to Pro, but it would be a tough transition.”
 

 

Burke leads the title standings by 51 points over round two winner Jordy Cole heading into the fourth round of the series.
 

 

The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship moves to Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding over April 20-21. For more information visit D1NZ.com or NZXMS.co.nz. Tickets are available via iTicket.co.nz.
 
 
D1NZ Pro-Sport Series overall standings:
1. Liam Burke: 275 points
2. Jordy Cole: 224 points
3. Taylor James: 207 points
4. Callum Neeson: 173 points
5. Kyle Jackways: 169 points
6. Ra Heyder: 158 points
7. Jesse Greenslade: 134 points
8. James Steele: 127 points
9. Scotty Dinsdale: 123 points
9. Kurt Blackie: 123 points
 
2018 D1NZ National Drifting Championship calendar:
Round 1: Wellington – Max Motors Wellington Family Speedway – 12-13 January 2018 (Day/Night Event)
Round 2: Tauranga – ASB Baypark Speedway – 16-17 February 2018 (Day/Night event)
Round 3: Timaru – Levels Raceway – 9-10 March 2018 
Round 4: Feilding – Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – 20-21 April 2018
Round 5: Auckland – Pukekohe Park – 11-12 May 2018 – Grand Final

Drivers, judges, teams and officials overcome track breakage

  • Written by D1NZ Admin

The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship has been scene to some of the toughest conditions in New Zealand motorsport, but perhaps none as trying as those seen last weekend.

 

The D1NZ paddock was put to test come Saturday afternoon when a bizarre incident unfolded at Levels Raceway, Timaru.

 

During the top-four battles for the D1NZ Pro-Sport Series, fifth place qualifier Callum Neeson suffered a high-speed crash following a tyre debeading. He collided with the tyre wall at turn one of the drift section (turn five of the full circuit) and caused significant damage to his car.

  

He came to a sudden halt and an ambulance was sent immediately to the site of the crash as well as recovery crews. Neeson was checked over, he was sore, but otherwise fine.

 

An extensive cleanup was required, including the tyre wall being put back upright, track sweeping carried out, and Neeson’s car removed.

 

With a 5:00pm time-certain finish on the table, the team worked quickly to clear Neeson’s car. However, in the process of doing so one of the stabilising legs on a recovery vehicle was left down.

 

That meant when the vehicle left the circuit the leg dug into the grass and across half the width of the track surface. The right-hand side of the circuit was deemed undriveable by the MotorSport New Zealand Clerk of the Course.

 

With most of the Pro-Sport Series still yet to run and the Pro Series later on in the day, officials were left with two options—end the competition or work around it.

 

Quick thinking by the judges and officials led to a fast decision and the circuit was changed.

 

Cones were repositioned and the cars started from just behind the damaged part of the course, the cars initiated into what was formerly turn two of the drift section before a new final corner was added at turn nine of the full circuit (turn four of the judged course).

 

The circumstances were unlike any other seen in the history of D1NZ. An emergency drivers briefing was called for the remaining competitors to advise of the change. The drivers were given one sighting lap before getting into the competition.

 

D1NZ Category Manager Brendon White said with the extent of the damage they had few options to choose from.

 

“When building custom circuits and pushing racing cars to the limit of their capabilities we’re always going to experience challenges,” White said.

 

“But in the first time in 10 years a track was inadvertently damaged beyond any possible immediate repair.

 

“Following a fast response from judges, drivers, and the D1NZ crew, we managed to quickly think on our feet to establish a new section of the track.

 

“Thankfully Callum walked away unscathed from what was easily one of the biggest crashed in recent memory for the series. It’s a testament to the safety of the circuit and these professionally built and run cars.”

Photo: Tony Crossed

  

White and track officials have already assessed the damage, which will be repaired on Monday before a South Canterbury Car Club test day takes place later next week.

 

D1NZ Pro Series winner Darren Kelly said it was a challenge, but one the whole field had to work around in the end.

 

“It was pretty unexpected,” he said.

 

“We haven’t experienced that before. It’s something that you really don’t have a backup plan for, so for what they managed to get done and run a section like that, it’s pretty cool.

 

“That section there actually ended up being nicer to run and chase, so it was something that was different but cool at the same time.”

 

The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship moves to Feilding's Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon for the penultimate round of the calendar on April 20-21.