The pressure on the drivers is immense on practice day…
Four time drift king Gaz Whiter has taken victory in the fourth round of the 2015 Demon Energy D1NZ Championship series at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park, defeating series leader Darren Kelly in an enthralling Turbo vs V8 final.
Piloting his new look Fenix Performance Nissan Silvia, Whiter earned himself a bye-run in the Top-32 after finishing fourth in qualifying. The LS7 V8 pilot then defeated Matt Lauder (Bling Company Nissan 180sx) and David Steedman (Mimico Nissan S14) to get into the semi-finals, taking another win against Driftcorp team-mate Daniel Woolhouse.
Woolhouse, also a two-time former champion, took pole position for the event in one of the toughest qualifying sessions this season to see his Century Batteries VE Holden Commodore progress through with a bye-run in the Top-32, before defeating Tom Marshall (ATJ Transport Nissan S13) in the Top-16 and Shane Allen (BOC / SP Tools Ford Falcon) in the Top-8.
On the opposite side of the battle tree it was another former drift king battling through with strong form, Curt Whittaker in the Autosure Insurance Nissan R34 Skyline defeated Phil Sutherland (Drains & Developments R34 Skyline) in the Top-16 before causing a championship upset with a win over Andrew Redward (Club Auto Insurance FC RX7) in the Top-8.
Despite another dominating performance from the V8 campaigners it was the turbo-charged Nissan R34 Skyline piloted by Darren Kelly that saw its fourth consecutive Top-4 appearance this season, defeating fellow Turbo drivers Joe Marshall (ATJ Transport Nissan 180sx) in the Top-16 and Nico Reid (GVI / Luxury Sports Nissan S15) in the Top-8.
Kelly then went onto defeat Curt Whittaker in the semi-finals before matching up alongside the well-experienced Gaz Whiter for the final showdown. Daniel Woolhouse and Curt Whittaker competed for the third place match up, with the Rattla Motorsport team taking the win and their second podium finish of the season.
The final battle of the weekend then got underway with Whiter & Kelly going door-to-door in an exciting V8 vs Turbo clash, Kelly with a strong lead that was matched by Whiter with an equally well-executed chase run. As the pair switched over for the second pass it was Whiter who would open a small gap into the sector-two scoring zone taking a closely fought win over Kelly and securing the round win at Hampton Downs.
While not taking the round honors it was former Pro-AM Development Series winner Darren Kelly (TurboSmart / OZ Racing R34 Skyline) who now takes the spotlight in the championship, re-taking the lead in the 2015 series title race with 350.5 points. Californian Andrew Redward drops back to second place with 320 points, Daniel Woolhouse moves up the ladder securing third with 305 points.
The championship fight has also been shaken up for the Pro-AM Development Series, round four at Hampton Downs saw a well-fought competition with Adam Davies topping the scores in qualifying to see the rotary powered Mimico Nissan 180sx take pole position.
Accomplished circuit racer Graeme Smythe (C’s Garage Nissan S15) would emerge as the round victor from Stuart Baker (Steven Sole Customs Nissan S13) and Joel Hedges (C’s Garage Nissan S13).
Smythe taking his first ever D1NZ podium finish and round win, fresh from competing in the Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race alongside John Mcintyre and Jono Lester in the TFM Ferrari.
Joel Hedges now takes a slim series points lead with 318 points, Troy Jenkins with 309, and Adam Davies sitting on 301 to see the title race continue to be a closely fought affair.
Although not amongst the pointy end of the pack, one of the most entertaining and controversial moments of the day was the triple OMT between Brad Smith and Jodie Verhulst. Ruapuna will very interesting if these two are matched up again, with both drivers making positive progress throughout the 2015 calendar year.
This round was one to forget for Daynom Templeman and the NAC RX-7, plagued by electrical and steering issues it was one of his worst finishes in D1 history. What is interesting is that he hinted that for next round a new weapon may be in the works.
The fourth round event at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park also saw the return of the popular Gull Force Pro Live-Stream which saw more than 14,000 fans tuning in throughout the main competition day, backing up the success of the first ever free D1NZ broadcast in late January which saw more than 20,000 viewers watch the two-day stream at round three in Tauranga.
The next round of the Demon Energy D1NZ Drifting Series will see New Zealand’s top stars visit Mike Pero Motorsport Park for round five in Christchurch over Easter Weekend, April 4th and 5th.
Tickets are on-sale now with full event information available at www.d1nz.com
Current Championship Standings:
2015 D1NZ Pro Series Points after Round 4
1. Darren Kelly 350.5
2. Andrew Redward 320
3. Daniel Woolhouse 305
4. Gaz Whiter 299.5
5. Curt Whittaker 284
6. Cole Armstrong 260.5
7. Daynom Templeman 231.5
8. David Steedman 210
9. Joe Marshall 195.5
10. Matt Lauder 192.5
2015 Pro-AM Series Points after Round 4
1. Joel Hedges 318
2. Troy Jenkins 309
3. Adam Davies 301
4. Joel Paterson 296
5. Stuart Baker 291
6. Pernell Callaghan 281
7. Ben Wilkinson 253
8. Gagan Singh 232.5
9. Michael Thorley 216.5
10. Chad Mckenzie 213.5
Completed /// Round 1: Fri-Sat Oct 03-04 2014 Manfeild, Feilding
Completed /// Round 2: Fri-Sat Nov 07-08 2014 Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Completed /// Round 3: Sat-Sun Jan 17-18 2015 ASB Baypark, Mount Maunganui
Completed /// Round 4: Fri-Sat Feb 20-21-23 2015 Hampton Downs, Waikato
Round 5: Sat-Sun April 04-05 2015 Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna), Christchurch
Round 6: Sat-Sun May 23-24 2015 Grand Final, Pukekohe