D1NZ championship set for American invasion
A newly purchased Ford Mustang for the Waikato-based Rattla Motorsport squad will make its debut in next season's Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship, with high profile American Formula Drift driver Justin Pawlak flying over to overlook the car's development as well as compete in next season's series opener at Manfeild alongside the team's regular drivers Shane Allen and Curt Whittaker.
Rattla Motorsport team owner, and self-described "Ford man" Chris Allen, told Driven recently that the new 900 horsepower Mustang will be completed by the end of September.
"It's brand new, and has never ever been on the road. There was a certain amount of these built out of Ford in America for racing purposes. So this car has never had a VIN number, and it's all light-weight which is why we decided to grab it," said Allen.
Along with the impressive power produced by its purpose-built 468ci race engine, the Mustang will boast; NASCAR heads, a 6-speed sequential gearbox, suspension components designed and built by Justin Pawlak's own JTP Performance company, and a significant APR wide-body kit among several other vital modifications.
The Mustang will be the first of its kind to compete in the D1NZ championship. With its shorter wheelbase and lighter weight, it's expected that the American icon will be a more competitive car than the Falcon currently campaigned by Chris Allen's son, Shane Allen.
While the new car is destined to be Shane Allen's, Pawlak will assist in testing and setting up the beast when he lands in the country later this year. The American will then compete in the opening round of next season's D1NZ championship - with the team yet to decide whether he will do so aboard the Mustang, or in the already existing Falcon.
"I know there's a few talented New Zealand drivers that have competed in America, so I'm sure the level of competition here is fairly high," said Pawlak, fresh from being the top qualifier in the latest round of the Formula Drift series at Road Atlanta, while behind the wheel of his own Ford Mustang.
"I'm always interested in driving on different tracks, against different drivers. I love drifting and travelling, so needless to say competing worldwide is always an awesome experience."
With the exception of Kiwi favourite 'Mad Mike' Whiddett, this will be first time anyone from the American variant of the Formula Drift championship - regarded as the pinnacle of the sport - has competed in the D1NZ. Chris Allen believes that the international interest in the series helps verify how talented the "little old Kiwi boys" of the local professional drifting circuit are.
"I think the D1NZ series is right up there with everything else," said Allen.
"You look at all the top drifters [from here] who have gone to Australia - the Curt Whittaker's and Gaz Whiter's - have all gone over there and beaten the best from Australia and Japan at the annual World Time Attack Challenge event in Sydney."
The Father and son duo will be hoping to knock on the door of being regular threats for the top five in the next D1NZ season. Shane Allen is positive that that the new car will bring about more competitive results.
"The Mustang will probably be a lot easier to drive [than the Falcon], and definitely a lot lighter - so it'll handle a bit better too. Justin [Pawlak] knows what he's doing, so at least we know that the car's going to be set-up very well," said Allen.
Driven/Velocity NZ understands that round one of the 2015-2016 season of the D1NZ National Drifting Championship starts in November at Manfeild Raceway.