Woolhouse's Mazda RX-7 drift machine gets new clothes
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Napier-based drift pilot Dylan Woolhouse will debut a new-look livery at the penultimate round of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship this weekend at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park.
Woolhouse and his newly built LS2 V8-powered Mazda RX-7 are the latest pairing to partner with growing Kiwi-based engine-management company Link ECU.
His is one of four Link ECU-supported cars on the grid, with fellow Pro competitor Stu Baker and ProSport competitors John O’Gorman and Liam Honor also competing under the brand umbrella.
“For us it was huge. I think the coolest thing for us is that, like a lot of people, we’ve always run Link ECUs,” Woolhouse said.
“For them to turn around and support us was a pretty big deal. It’s a pretty cool feeling for our team and myself.”
The 25-year-old sits 18th in the D1NZ Pro standings, after a difficult start to the season punctuated by a heavy crash at the series opener in Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The crash compounded Woolhouse and his team’s debut of their new car — after having ended the previous season with a bang via a breakthrough podium at the challenging Pukekohe Park.
“Lack of seat time is the biggest thing. We built the RX-7 through the whole off season, and then ran it at a test day at Taupo where it went like a dream. It was just unbelievable to drive — quicker, smoother — it was perfect,” Woolhouse told Driven.
“But about a week out from round one, we had a lifter get stuck and that caused a bit of a motor issue. From there, we’ve had little niggly issues at each event — some of them self-inflicted.
“Trying to regroup and regather myself has been pretty hard. I’m just hoping for Hampton Downs to produce something where I can get some solid seat time where I can drive the car how I know it can drive.”
For this weekend, a new drift section based on the Hampton Downs’ newly completed club circuit will be debuted.
Woolhouse believes this will level the playing field.
“I’m pretty excited about it. I’ve driven it once, and it’s pretty tight and technical — different to anything that we’re used to,” he said.
“It’ll change things up a little bit; it’s not going to be about big horsepower and things like that because it’s so much tighter and now as quick.”
Despite the immediate prospect of Hampton Downs, Woolhouse’s focus is on the final round of the series at Pukekohe Park in mid-April, where he believes he can challenge for victory.
“To be honest, Pukekohe is where I want to make my mark. Last year we ran with the goal of being as fast as we could and to just make a name for ourselves there, which we managed to do.
“Win it or bin it was the call — and it paid off,” he said.
“[The RX-7] is a lot faster. It has another gear, which is great as the last car couldn’t physically go quicker.”
Adding to the pressure is the amount of success in the sport that runs in Woolhouse’s family. His older brother ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse is a two-time D1NZ champion and household name — who he battled with at round two.
“He’s obviously a lot more experienced at driving than I am. There’s definitely some push there every time I get paired with him, which has happened on a couple of occasions. They’re probably the best battles I have,” he said.
“It’s just about having full trust when I’m chasing him. There’s no lifting and everything just gets chucked out the window and I want to be as close as possible. I think that sort of lifts me.
“I suppose the hardest bit is having the big expectations on my shoulders from the public.
“But at the same time, that’s not a bad thing either.”
Round four of the D1NZ National Drifting Championship kicks off later today with practice and qualifying taking place, before tomorrow’s battles.