Whittaker rises to the top on a massive night of…
Darren Kelly dominates on wet and wild day!
The true measure of any sportsman can only be gauged when the conditions are not ideal, yet they still rise to the top. The 2014 NAC NZ drift nationals was an event that will be remembered for it’s dreadful conditions. Piloting a sideways monster can be a tough task at the best of times. Add heavy torrential rain into the mix and the scenario becomes a whole heap trickier.
Throughout the day almost every driver looked off their game, it could’ve been that it was the first outing for the season or simply the conditions. One driver that had a handle on the situation was Kelly. He looked at home in the conditions and his car. If he shows similar form throughout the season, he will finish on the podium more often than not.
One of the other drivers that had a pretty decent day in the miserable weather was Troy Jenkins. He is piloting the precision wheels sponsored s15. Troy qualified 1st and ending up in third position overall. We thought was a great showing from the D1 Pro-Am driver, and a sign of his coming of age in this sport.
Since as long as I have known of drifting, I have always associated drift cars with lots of negative camber. So seeing cars that look ‘bow legged’ is a little odd. After talking to a few suspension gurus over the weekend, we found that positive camber is not a new style, but the preferred set-up for maximum grip. Check this article: http://www.motoiq.com/MagazineArticles/ID/2382/PageID/4265/Basic-Drift-Chassis-Setup-Part-3.aspx . It still applies for an entry level car, one with low power. But in the current pro and pro-am level, ‘horsepower hero’ cars, these types of suspension configurations are a distant memory.
This event was also Mad Mikes only competition appearance in NZ for the season (from what we have heard), so was awesome to see him out there. We are sure NZ drift fanatics will be cheering him on when he is competing at events around the globe. His run for the podium ended due to a mechanical failure in the top 8 stage of the event.
Just to show how wet it was at some points during the day…
These conditions got the better of a few drivers…
The grip may have been minimum but the commitment was maximum. Bruce Tannock showing the way with some aggressive entries throughout the event. Bruce had a brilliant day finishing second, it was a mechanical failure that ended his run in the final.
NAC finally revealed ‘Project Switzerland’ it’s a Toyota Hilux single cab with a 1UZFE Lexus V8 sitting under the hood. Add in coil overs, custom interior and a sweet set of rims, it will be a immaculate streeter when completed. Best part about it is that you can win it! That is correct, you did read right, THIS UTE COULD BE YOURS! Keep an eye out on www.nac.co.nz for details on how you can be in to win soon. The final guise of the Ute will unveild at the 4&Rotary South Island Champs (4andRotary.co.nz for dates).
The crowd favourite on the day was Fanga Dans Holden with its new Century Batteries livery. This car looks the business, and we love how it isn’t over complicated like some of the graphics schemes of late that have been ‘overdone’.
When the drifting was taking a break you could have a wander around the infield, there were some rad rides parked up. Here are three that stood out…
There were some serious high horsepower machines in the field, The lack of smoke was a little hard to get accustomed to. But when you took it all in and saw the water spraying off the rear tyres, and the wings directing the angle of the water, it was majestic to watch.
Matt Lauder from Wellington in his panda 180sx cut up some mad shapes on the track, his ride is one of the best looking cars in the pro drift circuit.
Aden Omnet in his 2JZ powered Altezza and Drew Donovan in the Milwaukee Tools S15.
Sky Zhao brought out his ‘700Z’, the ex Matt Powers V8 sounded on point. Zhaos ‘in your face’ battle style is exciting to watch and will have him shaking up the stalwarts this season. He did well at the event finishing in 4th place.
Gaz Grove and his V8 powered S15. There is something about these cars that look menacing when they aren’t all plastered up with graphics. You get to see the body work and the lines of the car and can relate to them as they almost look like a street car. The buzz we got was there is a growing split between the support of the ‘V8’ vs ‘turbo 4’s’. People almost seem to think that putting a V8 between the struts is ‘cheating’ or making it easier to drift. It will be interesting to see what engine type will dominate the podium at the end of the season.
Ben Belcher and his RX-7, NZ’s best presented drift car?
The NAC NZ Drift Nats is set-up differently to how a D1NZ event is usually run. Instead of a traditional qualifying format the drivers were all broken up into four groups, the drivers battled each other in their respective groups and the top 16 battle qualifiers progressed to the next stage. From here it was knock out, you stuffed up you were out. This format worked really well for this standalone event as it was very entertaining to watch, as there was little down time and plenty of action.
Overall it was a shame that the weather did not come to play ball for the event, but that is the way it is with outdoor events. The way the event was run and the format is awesome. A big congrats to Darren Kelly for taking the top honours and we look forward to the massive season of drifting ahead!
Winning is sweet, but even sweeter when you get handed an oversized cheque for $2000 and a goodie pack.
The parting shot, victory skids…