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D1NZ Cancel Mt Smart Teams Champs Amid Restructure

  • Written by D1NZ Admin

BAYPARK

PRESS RELEASE 

D1NZ cancel Mt Smart Teams Champs amid restructure.

Organisers of the 2016–‘17 Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship have cancelled the one-off Mt Smart Teams Champs. 

D1NZ Director Brendon White said the move wasn’t easy, with many of the drifters and teams having already expressed their interest in the event. 

However, with a pending restructure within the series, White and D1NZ management decided the best move was to cancel the event to focus on the future of the series.

“D1NZ has set a benchmark in New Zealand motorsport with some exploratory ambitious projects this season,” White said.

“We’ve had some great highs, but suffered some big lows. The start of the season at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium was massive, but the cost to stage an event like that is exorbitant.

“A third custom round in one season is just too much to tackle.”

After taking on the Dunedin stadium in a Southern Hemisphere first, White decided to take drifting from the car park of Tauranga’s ASB Baypark Stadium inside the speedway oval.

The move proved positive as 10,000 people packed into the arena over the two days. White said back-to-back stadium events showed what could be done with drifting in a new setting.

“It’s good for us to know moving forward that we can take on big arenas like Baypark and Forsyth Barr Stadium, Bayparks format proving the favorite.

“Fans want to get the closest experience possible to the action. Ultimately it may be the way we go in the future, but we must be realistic with how we balance custom venues and traditional circuits.”

Newly crowned drift king Cole Armstrong said he’s been buoyed by the progress of drifting in New Zealand. Having spent seven years in the D1NZ National Drifting Championship, he said the future of the series needs to be secured.

“Its grown massively, the amount of exposure and people who know about it is huge,” Armstrong said.

“I can see from Brendon’s side running it as a business. It’s a big thing and a hard thing to do. It sucks if it has to slow down because of the cost involved, but I feel drifting is climbing the ladder really quickly and growing.”

With the 2016–‘17 season behind them, White and his D1NZ team will begin the next step to secure the series’ future.

The first step in that process began with White and D1NZ management meeting with the eight D1NZ drift kings.

“Significant changes are on the horizon for D1NZ with the series already meeting with the sports past champions since the grand final.

It's going to be a busy off season and a lot of work but again ensures the sport prospers for the next 10 years.

“The logical step for us is to regroup, finish the season on a high with Cole Armstrong being crowned championship and move along with this re-structure.

“We want to put that energy and effort we put into Mt Smart into getting this restructure right.

“Ultimately, we’re futureproofing drifting in New Zealand.”

Details on the restructure will be formalized in the coming weeks, with an announcement set for early June and the series full announcements pinned for July.

COLE ARMSTRONG CROWNED 2016–'17 DEMON ENERGY D1NZ CHAMPION

  • Written by D1NZ Admin

It was the perfect end to the 2016–’17 Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship for Cole Armstrong, taking both the round victory and title win in emphatic style at South Auckland’s Pukekohe Park.

 

After seven years of trying, he defeated fellow series long stay Daynom Templeman in the final battles, cheered on over commentary by Cole’s mother, Leanne Armstrong. 

 

“We had a goal at the start of the year and we’ve just achieved it,” a jubilated Armstrong said following his win.

 

“I’m absolutely over the moon. These people standing behind me have put their heart and soul into it just as much as I have and it paid off. Seven years we’ve been waiting to get here and we’ve finally got it.

 

“To take out the round win too is just magical.”

 

Having defeated Dylan Woolhouse in the top-24, Vehicle Imports Direct drifter Joel Patterson came up against Woolhouse’s cousin ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse.

 

The first of the top-16 battles saw Woolhouse go head-to-head with Joel Patterson. In his Nissan Skyline R32, Patterson stuck to the bumper of Woolhouse’s Commodore in their first run, but dropped a wheel off.

The crowd went wild when drama struck. Woolhouse dropped a wheel off in back-to-back corners before spinning at turn three. Patterson handed the win.

Cole Armstrong leapt out ahead of Jerry Zhu in their first top-16 run and was handed the easy run into the top-eight after Zhu straight lined the course. He then continued his charge through to the top-eight as he swept past Troy Jenkins.

 

Adam Davies made a colossal mistake in his top-16 battle against Troy Jenkins. The Mimico backed drifter climbed the turn two kerb after a half spin, which gave Jenkins the pass through to the top-eight. The second run saw Davies suffer a blown intercooler.

 

Darren Kelly led an underpowered Joe Marshall into turn one, but the Nissan Skyline GT-R powered away from Marshall. However, perhaps the greatest upset started as Kelly straight lined turn one before snapping wildly into turn two and went straight over the grass through the esses. 

 

Joel Patterson looked to threaten Joe Marshall’s title bid as he rode the bumper of the leading Toyotaz Galore GT86, but dropped a wheel off to the inside of turn one. Marshall didn’t play it safe in the second run as he looked to hound the leading Skyline, and into the top-four. 

 

The first top-four battle saw a hard charging Wilkinson – who’d stormed past Chad McKenzie, and Jaron Olivecrona – go up against Daynom Templeman. There was a significant gap between the two cars in their first run. Whilst Templeman was shallow at times, Wilkinson stacked on angle, but the judges determined a one-more-time.

 

Unfortunately for Wilkinson, his best run this season season saw the OMT go the way of Templeman.

 

An initially strong chase by Joe Marshall against Reid was undone on the switch when he dropped a wheel off, compounded by a straight line at turn two. 

 

Nico Reid and Cole Armstrong fought for the final spot in the first of the top-four semi-finals—the pair were inseparable in their first run. Ultimately, Armstrong took victory after each took their respective five-minute time outs. 

 

 

Tom Marshall and Templeman each made their fair share of mistakes in their top-four semifinal battle, but the biggest mistake came from Marshall with less than 50 metres to the finish. He straight lined and under steered into the outside wall at turn four, giving Templeman the win. 

 

The final battles were set—Armstrong and Templeman battled for the win, whilst Reid and Marshall battled for the final podium spot.

 

Reid looked odds on to win the battle for third until he went too hot into turn two, skating off the track into turn three, handing Marshall the third for the round. 

 

In the final battle of the weekend Armstrong faced Templeman for outright honours. Armstrong led Templeman in the first battle and was judged to have clipped every zone. 

 

As he chased Templeman, he struggled to see through the smoke coming from the 1000 horsepower BMW M3. However, he made it out the other side having hit all the clips the judges desired, whilst running close to the rear of his rival.

 

The judged duly gave Armstrong overall victory and with it the 2016–’17 Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship. 

 

The Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship takes on Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium for their non-championship teams champs on May 19-20. To find out more about the non-championship round, visit D1NZ.com for more information.

SALOONS TO SILVIAS, MATT HIGHAM’S MOTORSPORT SWITCH TO D1NZ

  • Written by D1NZ Admin



Matt Higham is the latest racer to make the switch from circuit racing to the sideways theatre of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship.

This year the Auckland drifter is taking on a full campaign in the D1NZ Pro-Sport Series. The class serves as the feeder category to the Pro Series, which is the pinnacle of New Zealand drifting competition.

“It’s always good to try different styles and get a bit of versatility in your driving—it’s been a fun transition,” Higham said.

“It’s a good friendly environment with good competition where the drivers help each other out. D1NZ is a much more low-key and enjoyable place with a lot less pressure.”

Like many aspiring circuit racers Higham began his racing career in karting. He followed the beaten track to Formula First and then into Formula Ford before making a few fleeting appearances in the now defunct V8 Challenge Cup.

Higham said he became disillusioned in circuit racing, but his passion for Japanese drifting culture pushed him to carry on his motor racing ambition.

“I’ve always had a passion for Silvia’s, which spurred on my interest in drifting and the Japanese sort of style.

“I was slowly beginning to lose interest in circuit racing, but I was also doing a bit of crewing for D1 at the time—it all sort of grew from there.”

The likes of Supercars Championship winner Shane van Gisbergen and former Castrol Toyota Racing Series competitor, now D1NZ veteran, Daynom Templeman have shown circuit racers can perform highly and even win in the competitive series’.

However, Higham said the sport needs a shift in perception so circuit racers and fans alike understand what drifting in New Zealand is about.

“When you look at how well Shane van Gisbergen has done it’s credible and it’s a good reference to know that he’s done it. It’s disappointing in my eyes that it is regarded as an ‘other’ sport. There’s a lot of skill involved and it did open my eyes coming across.

“The car preparation and quality of the fabrication and just the general workmanship on them is pushed to the side and regarded as second rate. But there are some incredible cars parked up and some equally incredible driving.

“Hopefully it starts to stand out a bit more and be recognised amongst the circuit racing guys.”

Higham believed Pro-Sport is the perfect proving ground for racers from any motor racing code. With the development series often oversubscribed, he said it can only help to serve the Pro Series as more drifters develop their race craft.

“If you want to test yourself amongst a really good field then 40 guys in Pro-Sport is a pretty good field to compare your skills. It can only do good things for Pro in a few years’ time with new guys from Pro-Sport feeding through eventually.

“I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot of knowledge to gain in Pro-Sport. I’d like to start doing better in the next year or two and then from there we’ll see where we are and start looking for sponsorship to see if we put a plan together.”