A raft of calendar changes to the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship will see New Zealand’s premier drift series raise the bar for their 2016–’17 season.
A revised six-round calendar was announced last weekend at the annual CRC Speedshow, with a number of additions and changes to the forthcoming series. These changes included; shifting the Hampton Downs section to the newly built club circuit, the return of the popular Mount Smart Stadium venue, and both Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park and Mike Pero Motorsport Park in Taupo and Christchurch respectfully being replaced on the event schedule.
But the most significant of the changes announced sees the series opener take place at New Zealand’s only enclosed international event facility — Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium. It will be the first indoor drift event in the southern hemisphere, but the event won’t come without a set of it’s own challenges.
3,600 square meters of tar-seal will be laid atop the Forsyth Barr Stadium grass surface – traditionally used as a rugby and concert venue – for what is expected to be one of the biggest events of the season. With a total grandstand capacity of 24,000, D1NZ Category Director Brendon White said he wants to put on the greatest show in New Zealand motorsport.
“We want to basically give fans a show where the drivers are showcased in an arena where they're happy to be competing,” White said to velocitynews.co.nz.
“The fans get an action-packed show — it'll still be a two-day event — and everyone walks away really wanting more of the product, which is why it led to us making some venue changes.”
Further announcements are expected to be made with the opening show expanding beyond drifting. But White’s said that the decision to go further south was proposed by the Forsyth Barr Stadium owners.
“Part of the decision to go south was, first off, they wanted us. For us we spend a huge amount of money investing into custom venues. We're the only motorsport that's done it. That money we spend in those venues is almost to the point now where it's not feasible with the amount of people's bums we can put on seats.
“So we need to go 'OK why don't we put the money we spend on these custom venues, that can only have a capacity of 7,000, into tar-sealing a venue that can host 24,000. Then it's our job to get all those bums on seats.”
However, with the nature of the enclosed stadium D1NZ organisers are posed with the challenge of extracting smoke.
“We're looking for mitigation on things like smoke. The venue isn't fully enclosed, so it does have ventilation, and we'll look at other areas to help that.
“It hasn't been done in the Southern Hemisphere, so first off there's a lot of excitement about it, we're excited about it, but it does pose some questions about smoke and about noise.
“I think we are going to have to do something; either we give free ear-plugs when people walk in, but you've got to remember that this is a night show. When the curtain call is made and the top 16 comes out, you're going to see a show-format D1NZ. Pyrotechnics, lighting, visual elements, added on entertainment. We're excited.”