Top Aussie drifter hoping to take it to the Kiwis with new look
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Matty Hill wants to challenge for wins as D1NZ travels to Baypark Stadium
As New Zealand's Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship continues to grow in stature, so does the amount of interest in the series from overseas drivers.
One of those drivers is front-running Australian drift pilot Matty Hill, who will debut a new-look livery at this weekend's round of the series in Tauranga -- the third round of the 2016-17 calendar.
The Sydneysider and his Toyota-powered 4.Mance Automotive Nissan Silvia S15 currently sit in 10th place on the championship ladder, with the aim of climbing the standings and challenging for podium finishes as the rest of the six-round season plays out.
"Coming into a competition I've never driven before, it was very up and down. I didn't know where I would place; there are a lot of good drivers in New Zealand compared to Australia," Hill told Driven.
"[But] I'm really happy with my progress so far. Overall the car's been really good. I love the competition, I love the drivers, the atmosphere's great, the spectators, the people; it's awesome. I'm having a really good time." Hill isn't the only Australian in the series, with Michael Prosenik also a regular D1NZ fixture. The 27-year-old rates the drift categories on either side of the Tasman as equal in talent, but considers the New Zealand competition to be a bigger title.
"I think our drivers in Australia are very close to the drivers here," said Hill. "Their style is a little bit different in some areas, but the top guys in Australia are much the same as the top guys here. But spectator-wise, atmosphere-wise, there's no comparison. The people that are following drifting in New Zealand -- it's much bigger than in Australia. And they get much more people to events here than we do in Aussie, ever.
"Overall, New Zealand's one of the best. I've been to Japan, I've been to D1, Formula D — which is obviously the next level. I think it's a high-rated competition."
This weekend's round takes place at Tauranga's ASB Baypark Stadium, though it ditches the previous format of setting up a closed course on stadium property. Instead, the event will be based inside the stadium on a temporary concrete surface -- replicating the format that's common in overseas championships in the United States and Middle East.
It's the second time the D1NZ series has attempted a stadium event, following the successful opening in Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium late last year.
"Dunedin was amazing, something I've never experienced before and only seen very few times on TV in America," said Hill. "So I think the fact that New Zealand is now incorporating that into drifting events is going to grow the sport for everyone."