D1NZ stadium experiment attracts crowd of 10,000
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The benchmark has been set by the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship after its first foray into Tauranga’s ASB Baypark Stadium. 10,000 people took in two days of action at the series’ third round of competition over the weekend.
80 of New Zealand’s best drifters competed for outright honours in the Pro and Pro-Sport Series, which were won by maiden victors Tom Marshall and Zac Barlass respectively.
The stadium setting provided the perfect footing for spectators to enjoy the event with seating openly available around the stadium. Category Manager Brendon White said he was buoyed by the sheer enthusiasm the local crowd had during the event.
“One stand out thing was Tauranga was the loudest most enthusiastic crowd we’ve ever had at a D1NZ event in New Zealand,” said White.
“For me the thrill of being one metre away from the cars riding the wall, the thrill of the loudest crowd, the drivers just felt it. Everyone was saying hands down the best drift event done in New Zealand.
“For us that’s a really proud moment that we achieved such a large crowd.”
Whilst the attendance was strong, a definitive decision is yet to be on whether D1NZ would return in 2018. White said if D1NZ wants to come back to the arena the support for the event will have to grow.
"It’s too early to tell. Yes, this has been a complete success, we’re stoked. But as a series we have other regions that are screaming out for unique events that have funding support — events we know will get a huge crowd. It really does come back to the support we can gain from the regions commercial partners as well as looking into if we can gain local funding support.
“When we take the series to a new region they come out in force because they’ve never had it. But to come back to Tauranga we really do need to gain some support from region.”
White was especially impressed by the international presence in the series. After Australian Matty Hill committed to the full series, fellow countryman Beau Yates and Levi Clarke made their series debut at the event. Yates even said he’d look to ship his car over for a stint in the series.
With nearly 20,000 sets to fill inside the stadium White said he never expected to completely fill the stands. However, the turnout was far greater than figures seen in years past hosting the event in the back car park.
With little seating available prior to this year, White said they saw a falloff in spectator numbers, but the stadium setting worked well to give fans the facilities to relax and hide from the hot summer weather.
“We’re constantly learning as a series. Even though we’re 10-years-old we’re developing because we’re doing these events we’ve never done before, so we’re setting the benchmark on what to do and how we do it.
“We had over 7,000 people for the final battle on their feet cheering. The cheers were actually vibrating the people standing in it. It was cool and something we’d never seen in drifting.”
With so many people from around the country and internationally attending the event over the weekend White said he’d hope the local council would support the event.
“We have other council saying we love this event and would love to have it at our stadium. That’s going to be a critical thing for next season is who wants us? Who want us to come?”
D1NZ always strives to change up the formula for the drivers to give them a challenge at the purpose built events. The former ‘concrete jungle’ circuit in the car park proved to be a car breaker, and others like it saw drifters falter and crash their cars.
The Baypark Stadium circuit brought a new element with the banked wall ride around turn one. Having experienced the delays of crashes in previous events time was allotted to recover vehicles. Rather surprisingly only a small few hit the wall hard, which put the series well ahead of schedule.
White said he wanted to give the drifters something new to try out, which he believes paid off not only for the but for the spectators too.
“We try to give the drivers things that are constantly going to develop them into the best drivers. If you’re at the same track all the time that you’ve always driven you’re never going to test yourself. The bank tested them, they loved it.
“The second part of the section was something they weren’t used to – coming off a high steep bank flicking the car into a tight and technical section on the brakes. It’s giving them the best of both worlds.
“By the end of it the drivers were saying it was an amazing track and hands down one of the coolest tracks they’d driven.”
The series now moves to the North Waikato’s Hampton Downs Motorsport Park to compete on the newly built club circuit.