Monday, Mar 12 05:10pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Five things we learned at D1NZ Timaru

Round three of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship reignited the fire in a lot of people last weekend in Timaru.


There was drama, confusion and pure chaos at times in a weekend that can only be described as brilliantly wild.


The D1NZ Pro Series has a new leader, the Pro-Sport Series up-and-comers continue to impress, and Levels Raceway played the perfect part for D1NZ’s South Island return.


Here are five things we learned from D1NZ round three...


1. Liam Burke and Jordy Cole are future champions

Liam Burke


The D1NZ Pro-Sport Series keeps stepping their game up round-after-round and leaders Liam Burke and Jordy Cole are pretty much untouchable at the moment.


As unserious as Jordy Cole’s car might look on the outside *cough* he’s definitely a serious competitor behind the wheel.


Rounds two and three showed that. Cole got off to a rough start at round one, but a win in round two and the runner-up spot in round three has sent him to second in the standings.


They may need to keep an eye on what’s behind them, however. Only mechanical troubles for Central Drift Team aces Taylor James and Ra Heyder have put them on the back foot. They’ll come back firing for the penultimate round in Feilding.


These guys are the future of D1NZ and no doubt the aforementioned will make it to the Pro Series soon.


2. Timaru turned up

Woolhouse and Whiter


Year on year South Island fans continues to show D1NZ why they should get an annual fixture.


Timaru welcomed their first opportunity in 11 years to see New Zealand’s best drifters with open arms. The embankments were stacked – in some places six-deep – with spectators keen to get as close as possible to the action.


Perhaps the best bit was how dedicated the fans were to be sticking around after the challenging task of getting the track reset. But we’ll get to that in a second.


Timaru could become a regular fixture on the D1NZ calendar.


3. Cole Armstrong wants to go to Ireland



Defending champion Cole Armstrong has got a whole new attitude this season and it’s doing him a world of good.


In years past he’s been critical of his own driving, but a new approach is definitely working for the Tauranga driver.


Armstrong brings with him a new aura about his driving style, which in turn brings a much more relaxed feeling within the pit lane.


Despite tackling three entirely new circuits this season, Armstrong has managed to come out the other side of each round smiling. Not even a crash at the opening event in Wellington against round winner Matty Hill could dampen his spirits.


When you see Armstrong battling a two-time champion like Darren Kelly, banging on the door mid-battle, you know Armstrong is seriously excited to be out there.


He’s not won a round this season and he’s been hard pressed by van Gisbergen for two rounds straight and scraped through each time. However, Manfeild might bring a bit of magic.


Armstrong showed last year that consistency is key to winning the title.


4. The show must go on!



D1NZ Category Manager Brendon White has seen a few things in his time as the captain of the drifting ship, but perhaps nothing quite like what happened on Saturday afternoon.


During the recovery phase of getting Callum Neeson’s crashed car off the circuit, a truck left it’s stabilising legs down and tore out half of the circuit.


It was far from ideal with the Pro Series still to run, but everyone picked up their game and took the organisation to a new level. A drivers briefing was called, a new track was laid out, and the competition continued all without any fuss.


A 5:00pm curtain was on the cards and the day was finished at 4:59pm. If that’s not dedication to the cause, then I don’t know what is.


5. Shane van Gisbergen will win… eventually

van Gisbergen


Shane van Gisbergen has pretty much won in just about everything he’s competed in. Whether it’s Supercars in Australia or sports car racing In Europe, van Gisbergen is an all-rounder.


And yet, a win in D1NZ remains elusive.


For van Gisbergen, drifting may look like a bit of fun on the side, but there’s no doubt after last weekend’s performance he’s there to get a win.


It’s coming, there’s no doubt about that. Few spent as much time as van Gisbergen did watching all the action and getting as much insight from the judges on how to get that win as he did.


When it came to qualifying he lay down a 73-point run and got fifth. After beating Stuart Baker he came up against friend and foe Cole Armstrong. Like round two, it was another barn burner. Ultimately, it was the narrowest of margins in favour of Armstrong.


His time will come, perhaps Manfeild will be the place.

Disclaimer: the author of this article is also the media manager for D1NZ