Wednesday, Sep 27 07:11pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

'Mad Mike' and SVG headline nine car Kiwi contingent for WTAC Drift Challenge

Nine New Zealanders will be heading to Sydney Motorsport Park next October to compete in this year's Honeywell Garrett Drift Challenge in support of the annual World Time Attack Challenge. 


Sharing the headline act in the Kiwi contingent is Red Bull Holden Racing Team star and reigning Virgin Australia Supercars Championship winner Shane van Gisbergen. 


Come October 13/14, van Gisbergen will swap his Holden Commodore VF for a V8-powered Nissan 370z.


The car is the same one previously driven by 2016 Formula DRIFT champion Chris Forsberg in last year's World Time Attack Challenge drift event. 


A parts failure in last year's challenge put an early end to Forsbeg's hopes, but MCA team principle Murray Coote said this year they'll have the car just right for the Kiwi.


"2016 was a difficult year for us with the drift car," Coote said.


"It was particularly disappointing as Chris Forsberg had flown all the way from the USA to drive for us and unfortunately we had a sensor fail that caused a bit of a domino effect and did irreparable engine damage and relegated us to the sideline.


"This year we will be coming in with a much more detailed preparation and are leaving no stone unturned in a quest for a double podium."


Sharing the show's headline act will be another Red Bull star in recent Formula DRIFT Japan winner 'Mad Mike' Whiddett.


Off the back of a victory in Japan's main drifting series, the Kiwi drift star will bring his new look Mazda RX-8 'BADBUL' over to Sydney Motorsport Park. The car got a refresh just in time for this year's show, but the car still runs the trusty twin-turbo triple-rotor engine built by PPRE. 


Cole Armstrong comes into WTAC off the back of his maiden Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship title win with his V-Energy backed Nissan Skyline 250GT. However, he'll be bringing his old work horse this time in the Nissan Skyline R34.


Also flying the Nissan flag will be former D1NZ champion Darren Kelly in his GT-R. He'll be sporting a new look too with backing from Nissan New Zealand. 


Nissan Duo Adam Davies and Dave Steedman will make their respective WTAC debuts this year. Davies will drive his 180sx while Steedman will be in the Silvia S14. The Team DSR duo have had success in this year's D1NZ title race, so don't rule them out of contention.


Drew Donovan comes into this year's event a bit of a dark horse. He'll swap his usual rig 'Arnie' the V8-powered Nissan Silvia for his partner Jodie Verhulst's Toyota Supra. They've fitted the car with a V8 and have nitrous oxide running through it's veins. 


Dylan Woolhouse was hoping to debut an all new car for WTAC, but that unfortunately hasn't eventuated for the LINK ECU backed drifter. V8 power is a favourite among the Kiwis, and Woolhouse is no different with a V8-powered Mazda RX-7 his weapon of choice. 


Last, but not least, a fan favourite but not a competition regular, Carl Thompson will bring his rotary-powered second generation Lexus GS300 out. The car is well known for the distinctive rotary scream with a Curran Brothers quad-rotor shoehorned into the Lexus' engine bay. 


In total nine Kiwis will be up against 23 other drifters from Australia and around the world. Legendary drifter Daigo Saito will be back in his 1200hp Lexus. D1NZ regulars Matty Hill and Michael Prosenik will also be in action as well as Jake 'Drift Squid' Jones who will drift his Nissan RB-powered BMW E92 M3.


The 2018 Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge will take place at Sydney Motorsport Park over October 13/14. 


Photo: Graeme Murray