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Tuesday, Jul 23 04:35pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

D1NZ explains series shakeup and what’s in store for fans and competitors

The D1NZ National Drifting Championship will be one of the main attractions in what is being touted as a mega motorsport summer showcase in 2020.

 

It was confirmed on the eve of this year’s CRC Speedshow that the series will undertake a five-round calendar with three rounds on the Speed Works Events roster.

 

Rounds at Teretonga Park, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park and Pukekohe Park will give circuit racing fans the chance to see the country’s best drifters compete across Friday and Saturday afternoon.

 

Following last weekend’s announcement, velocitynews.co.nz spoke with D1NZ Category Manager Brendon White about what’s ahead for fans and competitors.

 

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The shift to a cross-code show is one that White said New Zealand motorsport has needed for a long time. In years gone by the series has clashed with other Speed Works Events, which he said hasn’t helped the sport get to the next level.

 

Fundamentally, the move to align with Speed Works Events is to give fans the best bang-for-buck motorsport experience with racing from midday to the afternoon and into the evening with drifting.

 

“The Speed Works relationship means we’re not only able to offer our fans something new and exciting, but also traditional motorsport too,” White said.

 

“When fans come to an event they don’t have to watch the whole day. They can choose to watch drifting in the afternoon, or they can watch the main races and drifting, or choose to watch the whole day. It’s giving fans more value for their dollar.

 

“D1NZ has been innovative over the years. We’ve built custom courses at Bay Park and Wellington, and we’ve brought in new classes like Rallycross, Super Motard and off-road racing. Those were all classes we established ourselves.

 

“The great thing about this new partnership is that the classes are already established with amazing machinery. Seeing the best single seaters and touring cars racing into turn one at Pukekohe then the best drifting machinery going sideways – you’re in for an incredibly entertaining day of racing.”

 

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White said while the 2020 calendar might not be everyone’s “cup of tea” with at least 10 possible tracks to choose from around the country meaning not everyone gets a race weekend.

 

However, a significant yet-to-be-announced broadcast deal meant the new look was the best solution to an ongoing and pressing problem; getting fans and sponsors to invest in the sport.

 

The new deal means the lower North Island does miss out for the first time in several years with Feilding and Wellington omitted from the schedule. That’s not to say the series won’t return though, White said.

 

“We love Manfeild and we would have loved to return to Wellington. Unfortunately there’s a lot of infrastructure development that needs to be done at Wellington Family Speedway. Putting temporary concrete over a speedway isn’t cost effective for any racing series. We need to put it underneath the dirt surface and that’s a long process that requires us having a year off from Wellington.

 

“Manfeild we had to pass because of the availability around dates with Speed Works and the television broadcast deal. We wanted to go back but it didn’t slot in with the available dates. We also wanted to go back to Taupō this season too but couldn’t find a suitable date.

 

“This is the first year of a synergy like this and it’s something new. We wholeheartedly think this is what needs to happen first, then in year two we can factor in tracks like Manfeild, Taupō and Wellington. We even talked about being a part of the support card for the New Zealand Grand Prix.

 

“We know that it disappoints the lower North Island fans and the upper has been spoilt for choice, but we just have to do what we can to take the sport to the level of getting the investment.

 

“The lower North Island misses out, but it’s not like we’re staying away. We’re putting significant infrastructure into Wellington so we’ll definitely be back soon.”

 

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While staples of the calendar will be missed, the addition of Teretonga Park in Invercargill is one that White said he’s excited to see.

 

Traditionally the circuit has attracted big crowds year on year for the Castrol Toyota Racing Series, BNT V8s and various support classes.

 

With the D1NZ National Drifting Championship coming to town White said there’s even more reason for locals to come and see the multi-code motorsport show.  

 

“Adding Teretonga to the mix is going to be epic. They’re motorsport mad down there and it’s going to be really cool to soak up the atmosphere.

 

“Drifting at this level hasn’t been to Teretonga before in the 15-year history. Drifting hasn’t had a big event that far south either, and with TCR and the Toyota Racing Series being there as well, it’ll be an event you have to travel for because it’ll be epic.”

 

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The series is also keen to grow the grassroots of the sport. The Pro-Sport Series will also get a shakeup this year to ensure that competing is accessible and low cost.

 

That means the series will begin later this year prior to the commencement of the Pro Series before rejoining them at Bay Park Arena, Hampton Downs Motorsport Park and Pukekohe Park.

 

“When we’ve met with drivers we’re finding there’s quite a big gap between the grass roots and Pro-Sport,” White said.

 

“We want to bring down the cost of Pro-Sport, so we’re going to tapper it off to a four-round series this year.

 

“You’ll see that Pro-Sport won’t be at rounds like Teretonga Park where they have to travel a long way. They’re at rounds that are logical. We’re just trying to bridge the gap and make it more affordable so grass roots competitors can have a go at competitive drifting.”

 

A big part of this season will see D1NZ Pro-Sport Series compete on the Club Circuit while the Castrol Toyota Racing Series competes on the National Circuit. Then when racing finishes the D1NZ Pro Series will compete on a combination of the Club Circuit and the National Circuit, which includes the 'Double Bastard' section.

 

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A challenge the series will have to face is not only introducing drifting to a new audience, but allowing them to understand how the battle system and judging works. A problem that even the most diehard fans can sometimes get lost with.

 

“A big part of this year is quick-fire formats and simplifying the show so that it’s easier to understand for a new audience.

 

“The dedicated fans will understand it, but even the most seasoned fans might not understand a judge’s call because it’s too technical.

 

“So what we’re aiming to do is give fans a better understanding on and off the track via this new broadcast deal that’ll take the production quality to a new level and allow fans to enjoy the sport. By being at new events we’re picking up a new fan base.”

 

Round 1 of the D1NZ Pro-Sport Series is set to be announced in the coming weeks.

 

2020 D1NZ National Drifting Championship Pro Series Calendar

 

Round

Circuit

Date

1

Teretonga Park, Invercargill

24-25 January

2

Pukekohe Park, Auckland

7-8 February 

3

Bay Park Arena, Tauranga

28-29 February 

4

Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato  

27-28 March

5

Pukekohe Park, Auckland

8-9 May 

 
2020 D1NZ National Drifting Championship Pro-Sport Series Calendar
 

Round

Circuit

Date

1

TBC

TBC

2

Bay Park Arena, Tauranga

28-29 February 

3

Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, Waikato  

27-28 March 

4

Pukekohe Park, Auckland

8-9 May 

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