After a four-year absence the national drifting championship returns to Pukekohe for the final round of the series this weekend. After lengthy negotiations with the Auckland Council, the series has been permitted to hold the event at the South Auckland circuit.
Demon Energy D1NZ organisers have resurfaced the notorious turn one in an effort to smooth out the troublesome bumps, which had become worse since the championship last visited the circuit in 2011.
In just his second year of fulltime professional competition, Darren Kelly heads into the final as the series leader ahead of veteran Curt Whittaker.
“It’s a pretty unreal feeling to have a shot at winning the championship,” said Kelly.
The big names are all coming out for the D1NZ finale at Pukekohe.
“I think it’s anyone’s game until the last battle.”
To win the series Kelly must finish in the top four. However, with second, third and fourth separated by a mere five points a slip-up could be costly. Whittaker, Andrew Redward, Daniel Woolhouse, Gaz Whiter and Cole Armstrong all have a chance at taking the title, and — unlike Kelly — all have competed at the circuit.
With the bumps eliminated, Kelly believes it’s possible cars will be hitting close to 200km/h.
“The new surface is just another factor that everyone will have to adapt to.
“It’s definitely a lot better than getting airborne at 200km/h. I think the cars have developed a lot since that speed was set. However, it’s going to come down to what is comfortably achievable as so many things can go very wrong at that speed.”
With 60 cars of pro and pro-am drivers competing, organisers are expecting one of the series’ biggest crowds.