Liam Burke has mastered ‘The Gauntlet’ to triumph round four of the Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship in a spectacular indoor show at ASB Showgrounds in Auckland.
Pitted against Ben Jenkins in the final, Burke was able to squeeze a ‘One More Time’ from the judging panel before executing a convincing final chase to snare a maiden national drifting round victory.
The first round post the COVID-19 lockdown, ‘The Gauntlet’ proved to be a challenging test of driver technicality as they gingerly massaged themselves around three showrooms characterised by tight, exciting twists and bends.
The slippery concrete did fail to deliver the vast quantities of tyre smoke the series has become synonymous with but it did create an equal playing field with several Goliath-slaying performances across the night.
Jesse Greenslade was eliminated in the Top 24 qualifiers after he collected the concrete wall on two occasions on his final lead-run against Cody Pullen-Burry.
Fan Favourite Darren Kelly would be eliminated by Dave Steedman on the run into the semi-finals while title protagonist Carl Thompson, after successfully beating Daniel ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse, was knocked out by points leader Taylor James in the final 8.
Burke’s victory elevates him to second in the Pro Championship standings ahead of the season-finale at Pukekohe Park, 24-points adrift of James.
Despite missing out on the overall victory, Jenkins’ runners-up finish was a welcome surprise after the 2JZ Toyota 86 suffered mechanical issues across the event and kept the Aucklander honest on every run.
The duo executed equally strong chase-runs in the final, with only the following OMT showdown able to crown a deserving victor.
D1NZ will have its 2020 season-finale from Pukekohe Park over July 31 – August 1.
Main Image: Danger Graphics