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.