Demon Energy D1NZ R6 – Grand Final

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The D1NZ Grand Final has been and gone. Kings have been crowned, cars destroyed, tires burned and fresh layers of rubber once again grace the sweeper and first section of New Zealand’s famous Pukekohe Park Raceway, dubbed the House of Drift.

After legal reasons locked the D1NZ teams out of the track four years ago, it was absolutely awesome to be back at the place where NZ drifting was born. You see, one local resident was not a fan of the tyre smoke wafting over his property near the track, just one. The rest of Pukekohe was in full support, but one old grump was able to spoil the fun for everyone. Four expensive years of legal battles later, and D1NZ’s director Brendon White finally had the good news everyone had waited so long for. D1NZ was granted consent, and was able to use the track once again!

There are memories here. The track holds a special place in most drivers’ hearts. And if you’re not one of those drivers lucky enough to say they had drifted Pukekohe back in the day, then you’re one of the drivers that spent their weekends in the grandstands watching. The famed 200kph entry at the sweeper is what gets everyone excited. It’s balls to the wall as you enter in 4th or 5th gear, needle off the clock. With the engine screaming you go against every thought you are having and flick the car sideways, and hold on for dear life. Sounds pretty exhilarating right? So let’s take it up a notch and throw rain into the mix and a bunch of guys who have never had the pleasure of drifting here before. Now what you have is a spectacle that you just cannot miss.

Leading up to the final there were three main contenders for the Drift King title. Darren Kelly, the new comer in his RB powered R34. Curt Whittaker, a past DK with his 440ci Ford V8 powered R34 and Andrew Redwood, a seasoned drifter in his LS powered RX7. The championship was well within reach for these teams and the Grand Final would obviously be the decider.

Friday’s practice was solid. Drivers got themselves familiar with the track, dialled their cars in and prepared for the weekend’s battles. That’s about all that went well for most teams this weekend. Come Saturday, the heavens had well and truly opened, turning the race track into something that more closely resembled a river. Everything the drivers had taught themselves about the track during Friday’s practice was now irrelevant and many would simply have to wing it.

At one stage the track was so flooded pumps had to be brought in to remove some of the water, and some drivers simply refused to risk it all and decided to stay safe tucked away with their cars in the pits.

This put a huge delay on the whole weekend, and pushed the pro-am top 16 battles into Sunday which meant the Pro class missed out on their practice sessions. Despite all the setbacks, the show had to go on. We may be wet, we may be cold, and we may not be seeing the 200Kph entries that we were promised, but we’re still in for an absolutely awesome weekend. The weather really evened out the playing field, the guys really had to test their skills, as relying on speed and power alone would simply not cut it on a drenched track. Watching the cars move around the track made it seem like they were skating on ice.

The bad weather created quite a bit of carnage, with most teams experiencing some kind of off or extremely close calls. But its the end of the season, there are no more rounds for months, this is the perfect excuse to be a mad man or woman and go all out, if you’re gonna crash, you might as well make it look good too!

After some really close battles and plenty of OMTs (one more times) we had our Pro-am top 3. New faces that we have not seen on the podium before now, Ben Jenkins home in first place, Chad McKenzie in second, and Bex Bennett coming in third.

While the pro teams got themselves ready for battle i decided to check out the hard park. We rallied up some troops to bring their S-Chassis out to show off. There was a prize for King of Hard-park, and to our excitement it was claimed by our friend Ange with the Stancemob S14 [MMWAA]. The new QUEEN of hard park won herself a shoot with the famous NZ Performance Car Magazine!

Now that Pro-am was done and dusted, the pro teams could finally hit the track for qualifying. Plenty of solid runs were put down on the track with a surface that seemed to change every 20 minutes. The rain would stop, the track would come close to being somewhat dry and then boom, it would rain again. This threw a lot of drivers off with Daynom Templeman, Adam Hedges, Matt Lauder, Brad Smith and Aden Omnet all unable to qualify for various reasons.

This left us with 18 qualifiers. On top we had Curt Whittaker on 84.5, Vincent Langhorn on 83.5 and Fanga Dan Woolhouse with 78.5.

Finally, it was time for the battles. Controlled chaos is a term that comes to mind here. The D1NZ crew did an amazing job getting all the cars out on track, but once there it was up to the drivers to keep their driving under control as they battled it out for a spot on the podium.

Battle after battle, OMT after OMT, rainfall after rainfall we finally had our top four. Joe Marshall in the ATJ Drift RB powered 180SX in a respectable 4th place, Curt Whittaker 3rd in the Ford V8 powered Skyline, Gaz Whiter 2nd in the LS powered S14 and Darren Kelly on the top step with his RB powered R34 sedan.

After the round winners had been awarded their trophies it was time to find out the D1NZ Championship results. For the Pro-am grid we have Joel Patterson in his 9AGTE powered AE85 in third, C’s Garage driver Joel Hedges 2nd in his SR powered S13 Onevia and as it turns out, by only 1 point, a much deserved championship 1st place awarded to Troy Jenkins and his RB powered S15 Silvia.

In the Pro class, third place for the season we have 4 time drift king Gaz Whiter. 2nd for the season and securing his 5th championship podium is Curt Whittaker, also a past DK. And in the top spot, Darren Kelly was crowned the new 2015 D1NZ Drift King.

The excitement didn’t end there though, with a new Trans-Tasman Drift Series announced, and to top it off, news that the top four Championship finishers would be receiving all-expenses paid entry. So look out Australia, the best of New Zealand’s drifters are out to claim your podiums as well!

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