South Island drift champ expecting big crowds and big challenges
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Southern star excited for Dunedin leg of D1NZ
The roof will be raised on Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium over December 2–3 when the multi-purpose venue comes alive with the sound of screaming tyres and roaring race cars.
Former Drift South champion Joel Counter is just one of over 80 Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship drifters gearing up for what he expects will be one of the biggest events in New Zealand motor racing history.
In a Southern Hemisphere first; drifting, motocross, and rallying will all take place under the roof of Forsyth Barr Stadium for the opening round of the D1NZ series. A track surface will be carefully laid atop the multi-million dollar rugby pitch so the drivers and riders can wreak havoc in front of a packed house.
“It’s an exciting prospect,” said Christchurch based drifter Counter. “It’s interesting and something that I never thought would happen in New Zealand. So to be a part of the first one, I’m looking forward to it!”
With a large student demographic in and around Otago; Counter is anticipating the stadium will be pumping with students from around the city, enjoying the mix of motor racing disciplines. With Dunedin hosting the only South Island round of the year, he’s anticipating a strong presence from the wider Southland, Otago, and Canterbury regions.
“South Island crowds are awesome! That’s one thing that definitely spurred me on [at last year’s South Island round] in Christchurch was being the hometown driver, having that support with just thousands of people packing it in.
“It’s insane. Just the support we get from everyone has been awesome. We’re looking forward to packing out the Forsyth Barr and getting a few more thousand in there. It’ll be pretty extreme!
“Being the first indoor event, and having the stadium atmosphere potentially with a town full of uni students will be pretty wild.”
Photo / Guy Maxwell
The D1NZ drifters are still scratching their heads wondering what surface they’ll be drifting on, as organisers are yet to confirm whether the circuit to be laid will be tarmac or concrete. The variations in surface could change the complexity of the competition, as both surfaces require uniquely different set up changes to the car.
Counter said he’s expecting the track to be tricky to get to grips with, but knows the playing field will be level as everyone else faces the same challenges.
“I think the biggest thing is going to be how the track is going to be set up. Obviously we’re going to be on the pitch, so that’s an interesting one.
“I’m keen to see how the surface is going to be, it’s obviously something we’ve never done before so the whole thing is going to be a challenge. It’ll be new to everyone, so it’s definitely going to level the playing field.”
Counter is realistic about his goals, but with a reworked car and the level playing field helping his cause, he’s confident of a strong result.
“Without sounding too arrogant, I think I can compete with them. Put me in the right scenario and I think I could even compete with the likes of Fanga Dan and Curt Whittaker. I probably sound a bit over confident, but that’s where I want to compete.
“Given it’s going to be a new thing to everyone, I think the top-eight is really our goal. But I’m really keen to just drive for a result. To put my name straight on the board on the first round of the season, especially indoors, and being a new event, it’s definitely something I want to stake my claim on.”
The first round of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium takes place over December 2–3. The event is supported by the Silver Fern Rally and NZ Supermoto Cup.
2016–’17 Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship calendar
Round 1: Dunedin – Forsyth Barr Stadium – 2-3 December 2016 (Night Event)
Round 2: Feilding – Manfeild Raceway – 6-7 January 2017
Round 3: Tauranga – ASB Baypark Stadium – 24-25 February 2017 (Night Event)
Round 4: North Waikato – Hampton Downs Motorsport Park – 25-26 March 2017
Round 5: Auckland – Pukekohe Park Raceway – 23-24 April 2017 – Grand Final
Round 6: Auckland – Mt Smart Stadium – TBC May 2017 – Teams Champs (Night Event)