In just his second year of full time competition Darren Kelly has won the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship after taking victory at Pukekohe Park Raceway.
Kelly’s run for the championship at a rain sodden and chaos filled Pukekohe Park Raceway nearly took a dramatic turn in his top-16 battle against Tom Marshall.
Marshall ran close behind the leading R34 of Kelly in their first battle; however in the chase run Marshall stretched the distance between himself and Kelly appearing to give Marshall the advantage.
With the judge decision indiscernible the battle went to a ‘one more time’ run to decide the winner. On the rerun though it was Kelly who defeated Marshall after the ATJ drifter dropped a wheel off the circuit on the inside of turn one.
Fanga Dan’s chances of challenging for the title took a huge blow when a mistake by the former champ saw him straight line the start of the judged section before sliding off onto the grass. Fellow championship contender Redward didn’t fare much better also spinning in his top eight battle against Gaz Whiter.
Darren Kelly’s championship appeared to be all but cemented in his top-8 battle when a mechanical issue with Vincent Langhorn ruled him out of competition. Kelly progressing through to the top-4 to take the provisional championship win.
After facing Tom Marshall earlier Kelly came up against Tom’s brother Joe. A shallow line in the chase by Marshall gave Kelly the initial advantage going into the second run, Kelly capitalising on Marshall’s poor run to take a convincing win in the second pass.
The final battle of the day saw Kelly and Whiter go head to head in a RB versus V8 battle. As the pair headed into turn one Gaz Whiter came into the initiation too fast going wide and sliding off the track giving Kelly a 10-0 advantage.
Whiter in his V8 powered Nissan Silvia S14 ran on the rear of Kelly for the duration of the chase in an effort to force an error, however it would not come as Kelly took the win.
With the round win cemented Kelly’s championship victory was secured, in the process of winning the series Kelly becomes the first driver to win both the pro-am development series and pro championship.
“Conditions weren’t really up to any driving state, but we pushed through,” said Kelly.
“After qualifying we weren’t feeling too safe with our near miss with the wall. That’s how I knew following Gaz into that last one we were going too quick. I just had to tap the brake a bit and just saw Gaz disappear off.
“I’m so stoked on the win. The conditions were insane, it was so hard to control the car in those conditions but the crew has been on the ball all weekend. It hasn’t been easy; everyone’s had problems with cars. It’s been hard fought.”
“We used to be the ones in the crowd watching Gaz, Fanga and everyone like that. They were the ones we looked up to so to be competing against them now and win against them is pretty cool.”
In the pro-am series Troy Jenkins took out the championship whilst brother Ben took his first round win. The D1NZ championship now takes a break before returning for the 2015/16 season in November. A calendar for the forthcoming season is expected to be released in the coming months.