American ex-pat Andrew Redward has claimed victory at the opening round of the 2021 Valvoline D1NZ National Drifing Championship, after pipping Ben Jenkins in a tight final at Mount Smart Stadium.
Completing the battle under lights, Redward won via a clinical lead and chase with minimal runs out of bounds and excellent mirroring of Jenkins’ lead. ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse rounded out the podium.
While the outgoing D1NZ season was about young guns outshining the veterans of the series, the 2021 series opener was dominated by a host of drifting stalwarts; the eventual top four filled by Bruce Tannock, Redward, Woolhouse, and Jenkins.
There were a few high-profile casualties in the early running, with pole-sitter Darren Kelly notably knocked out by a surprise run from Tannock, and defending series champ Liam Burke.
Michael Thorley and Shaun Potroz also had a tough time of it, crashing during their running. Thorley in particular took on a lot of damage; crunching at turn two side-on at speed.
Redward was first to make it into the final, beating Tannock in a three from three judges call. Jenkins then trumped Woolhouse; judges narrowly siding with the Toyota pilot after both made errors on their respective chase runs.
Woolhouse and Tannock faced off for third (judges siding with Woolhouse for the podium spot), and then Redward and Jenkins rolled out for the final.
Redward’s lead on the opening pass was strong, with Jenkins surging close to the Nankang RX-7 through the inner hairpin. While Jenkins’ chase was exciting, Redward’s appeared much tighter; his speed much more closely matched to Jenkins — most notably through the last corner to the flying finish.
With no ‘one more time’ repeat run called, the judges had decided on a winner; Redward claiming the crown and subsequently breaking a lengthy victory drought.
The series is now set to travel to Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in Feilding for round two, on February 20–21.