The battle over 2021 Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship title honours looks set to go down to the wire, following Liam Burke’s victory over the weekend at Pukekohe Raceway.
The defending champion triumphed over Taylor James in the final, the latter having borrowed a car from NDT Developments for most of the event following issues with his own Nissan Silvia. Team DSR’s Adam Davies and series statesman Bruce Tannock completed the top four.
Tannock took fourth after being judged to have won his battle with former points leader Darren Kelly. The pairing’s top-eight battle was the day’s biggest talking point as it ended with a heavy crash at turn one.
While Kelly chased, the two Nissans made contact. Kelly’s Heart of Racing R35 GT-R emerged largely unscathed apart from torn up left-front bodywork. Tannock wasn’t as lucky; his Mag & Turbo Silvia pirouetting into the outside wall resulting in significant damage. He wasn’t able to compete in the play-offs for third with Davies.
Burke’s victory and Kelly’s struggle complete a huge turnaround in the D1NZ standings with just one round to go. Burke now leads the title chase with 386 points to his name, just two more than Andrew Redward in second. Kelly now sits third on 378 points just ahead of ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse on 364 points, meaning that just 22 points separate the top four.
“We made some big changes to our suspension setup leading up to this event and after some teething problems I think we made some large improvements to how the cars handling,” said Burke.
“The cars feeling more settled than ever before. We won the round and qualified in 2nd position. One of the biggest changes we made this round was running the Tri-Ace Racing King tyres from BG World Wheels, the grip and performance from these tyres is crazy.
“The final round at Baypark is going to be epic. […] This has to be one of the tightest Championship finals in D1NZ.”
The 2021 D1NZ series finale takes place at Trustpower Baypark in Tauranga on April 30.