• 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.”


  • Written by D1NZ Admin

After a stellar return to the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship at round four of the series, Andrew Redward will look to use his circuit experience to go one better at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over March 25-26.

Redward put on a near perfect series return at Tauranga’s ASB Baypark Stadium where he finished runner-up to ATJ Drift’s Tom Marshall.

Now his attention shifts to the North Waikato’s Hampton Downs Motorsport Park where he’ll hope his experience will give him the edge over his rivals. Redward has had plenty of practice on the club circuit, which the series will move to for the first time this year.

“I’ve had five days there now, we’ve spent a lot of time at the track,” Redward said.

“The track works really well for battles. We’ve been there for a few club days and the trains that we can put on are four, five, six cars deep and everyone’s on their doors—It’s good!

“It’s a really fun track for battling, because you’re always on someone.”

He said the circuit will put on a show for the drivers and fans alike. An aggressive tight entry will provide one of the biggest challenges on the circuit, but high horsepower cars will thrive as they exit turn two as they enter the fast sweeping final right hander.

Redward was pumped following his performance at the last outing in Tauranga. The return signalled the Demon Energy D1NZ veteran hadn’t lost his touch, despite the challenge the new circuit posed.

“It was cool, I was just stoked to be in the battles really. There’s a strong field out there and there’s always going to be people who lose out. I spun on my first run, which felt like an awesome run, and the second one we just put a banker in.

“The battles went well. I pushed as hard as I could. A couple of guys spun out in front of me, which was a bit unfortunate.

“I’d like to think my chases were still decent, but it was fun; I enjoyed it.”

Redward said he’d be making sure to give his V8-powered Mazda RX-7 a good once over before the penultimate round of the series.

“I still want to take the engine out because we’ve been running nitrous for three events now, so I want to check all the bearings, go through it and make sure everything’s mint.”

Round four of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship takes place at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over March 25-26 for the first time on the newly built Club Circuit. For more information visit


  • Written by D1NZ Admin

Organisers of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship pride themselves on giving their competitors a challenge, the penultimate round of the series on March 25-26 looks set to continue that trend.


Traditionally the series competed through the turn two and three section of the National Circuit. However, the series this season will instead compete on the newly built Club Circuit—an extension to the pre-existing track.


D1NZ competitors and fans will be most familiar with the National Circuit, but the change this year means the drivers will face another new challenge.


Some competitors have already taken the chance to try out the circuit, but the opinion is split between drivers who’ve tested so far. Team DMNZ drifters Jodie Verhulst and Drew Donovan had mixed feelings about the tight circuit, which begins with a hairpin right-hander.  


“I think you need a lot of horsepower on this track,” Verhulst said.


“You can get some of the tracks which balance the field and it doesn’t matter if you turn up in a 300 kw car, I like those sorts of tracks, but this one is going to be tricky.”


Verhulst and Donovan both took to Hampton Downs in the lead up to the fourth round. Arthur Lee, Jase Brown, and Benjamin Wilkinson all tested on the circuit as they got a feel for the new section, many cited the challenge the circuit poses.


The drift section begins with a fast entry, but will see the drifter scrub off speed as they head 90-degrees into the hairpin right hander. The first switch takes the drifters into a tight cambered left hander before attacking a 180-degree sweeping right hander towards a rolling finish.


Donovan believed the track will provides the series with some exceptional sights for spectators and media alike, as the track puts on a smoke show with it’s mix of fast and tight flowing turns. Despite the tough nature of the track, he said he’s looking forward to it.


“It’s a cool track, and a really cool track for television footage because there’s going to be such sick photos and awesome footage in general because it’ll be smokey,” Donovan said.


He said the track will be one of the toughest on the calendar, with car setup likely to play a massive role across the weekend.


“This particular track – just from the short amount of driving I’ve done on it – is really a setup track. If you get the setup right here you’ll do well. All you need then is a little bit of luck on your side.”


“This track is a bit like Dunedin, it’s a bit like Baypark, it’s new. Not many people have driven it, so that’s a cool factor.”


D1NZ Category Manager Brendon White said the fourth round of the series will give the wider Waikato and South Auckland region an opportunity to see drifting on their doorstep.


"It’s exciting to be able to bring the series to another new track for the third time this year,” White said. “From a driver’s perspective I don’t think you can get a better season or playing field.”


The series has already undertaken two new circuits with the 2016–’17 calendar opening at the Southern Hemisphere first indoor drift event inside Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium. The series then took on ASB Baypark Stadium inside the speedway walls, which included a wall ride in the drift section.


White said adding the Club Circuit to the calendar will put the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship competitors to the test.


“The new Hampton Downs Club Circuit is favoured highly with the drivers. To have over 70 of New Zealand’s best attack the track for the first time this season is going to be great for some high speed open track drifting.”

“This is the Waikato’s chance to see drivers from all over New Zealand and Australia go door to door in a great new facility.


“It’ll be a tough track for the drivers to get their head around with a set of hairpins before transitioning into a fast sweeper, but these challenges are what they thrive on—it’ll be mega!”


Round four of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship takes place at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over March 25-26 for the first time on the newly built Club Circuit. For more information visit