Pro-Sport Series outfit Central Drift Team have come away from the opening round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship on top.
The Central Equipment Movers and AUTOSERVE backed drifters Taylor James and Ra Heyder dominated proceedings at Max Motors Wellington Family Speedway in Upper Hutt, putting themselves to the forefront of the series.
James finished off what Heyder started, after the latter took pole position on Friday and the former won the first round of the series come Saturday.
“It feels pretty surreal, the crew, Adrian Smith from Tuning and Performance, all managed to keep me up there so it’s a credit to them and my teammate Ra who killed it this weekend,” James said.
“We’ve been flat out in the lead up to round one. We had to rebuilt our cars and build Ra a new one, so there won’t be many changes between now and round two.
“I’m looking forward to Baypark, another concrete round, hopefully we stay off it and get some more good results. It’s a credit to Brendon White and the NZXMS crew for taking on back-to-back custom rounds.”
Top qualifier Heyder started strong. During his first battle he built a substantial margin over Jared Coombes into turn one and maintained the margin for the rest of the run. That gave him the initial advantage.
On the chase he drove conservatively through the first sector, but closed up the margin towards the final turn. Heyder took the win for the Central Drift Team.
Only one run later on the ladder Heyder’s teammate James took out David Hunter in the top-16. However, that meant they’d go up against each other in the top-eight in an all Central Drift Team battle.
It made for good photos, but the top-eight battle between Central Drift Team stablemates Ra Heyder and Taylor James had to see one of them knocked out.
Heyder led James on the first run, but pushed too hard through the switch and spun out. James passed through after a clean second pass.
“It would’ve been cool to maybe have been a top-four or final together, but it was a cool feeling because no matter what one of us was going to reach the top-four.”
From there James went on to face fifth place qualifier Tulley Puckey. The CDT drifter managed to eliminate Puckey, who ran shallow and couldn’t keep pace with James.
On the other side of the tree Liam Burke was pushing his way through to the final-four. Burke progressed through after he defeated John O’Gorman. Their lead runs were judged to be equal, with an even amount of mistakes. However, Burke’s chase was deemed stronger.
Meanwhile, the rookie battle between Greenslade and Steele was ended prematurely when Steele suffered a mechanical failure on the start line. Because he made it to the start/finish line and the light went out, it was considered a run, hence a 10 to zero result in favour of Green slade.
That put Burke and Greenslade together, but it was Burke who came out on top. From there, Burke and James battled for the outright win.
Despite running shallow on his chase run on exit, the judges awarded James the win after the CDT drifter managed to score highly on his line. A dive by Burke midway through the run handed the advantage back to James, giving him the top spot.
For James, it was a nerve racking time while he waited for the podium presentation.
“It was hard sitting there waiting for prize giving, but it was a good result in the end.
“I thought it was pretty close and I didn’t know which way it was going to go because we both had solid lead runs but average chases. But it happened to swing our way, so I’m stoked.”
The Central Drift Team will head to ASB Baypark Stadium for their defacto home round in Tauranga over February 16-17.