Aussie drift champ makes impressive Kiwi debut
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Former Australian drift champ Beau Yates has made a positive start to his debut performance in the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship, qualifying fifth for today's upcoming Pro battles at the third round of the series in Tauranga's ASB Baypark Stadium.
Yates is piloting the Toyotaz Galore GT86 formerly driven by the likes of Daigo Saito and Ryan Tuerck, in a deal that was only pieced together in just the last two weeks.
Speaking to Driven, the Toyota pilot praised the newly erected Tauranga stadium circuit, as well as the Kiwi category.
“As much as there's a big slab of concrete that you've got to run the back bumper-bar around, [...] it's a pretty safe track,” he said.
“Once you're around and off the back side of the bowl, it's pretty easy to do. I've still got to sharpen things up a little bit — I'm a little bit off in the later sections and probably need more angle through the middle. But that's something we'll work on.
“You guys over here do a pretty good job. It's awesome to be part of such a good paddock — even the Pro Sport class has some really well-built cars.
“And it's good, you guys all stick together and run the one series — back in Australia we've got four or five series' happening and no one can band together and do one series.
“Obviously there's money and backing behind D1NZ and it's good to see that a sport that I love so much is so well received over here.”
Yates didn't take long to get a grips with his new GT86 for the weekend, as one of the first drivers to illustrate confidence with riding Baypark's long rounded wall on the outside of the cambered oval. The Sydneysider drives a GT86 regularly in Australia, noting that the Toyotaz Galore machine behaves “very similar to the way that my car behaves.”
This translated into an impressive qualifying run, where he set a best mark of 81 points — enough for him to claim fifth behind Daynom Templeman, Tom Marshall, Nico Reid, and pole sitter Cole Armstrong.
Despite the top start to the weekend, Yates has humble expectations for this afternoon.
“I don't think there's any expectations, it's not like I've been here and tested [the car]. It's just kind of 'arrive and drive', and do the best with what we've got,” he said.
“We'll see, everyone seems to think that the car is going good, so maybe we'll be somewhere up the front.”
Pro top-24 battles begin at 3.30pm this afternoon. The top-16 battles then follow at 6.00pm, with the finals kicking off at 8.20pm. Competition will be streamed live on D1NZ.com