Giant killers reign supreme: Liam Burke wins D1NZ indoor showdown
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Liam Burke has emerged from the shadows to win the Valvoline D1NZ National Drifting Championship's return event; 'The Gauntlet' indoor showdown at ASB Showgrounds in Auckland.
It's the former ProSport feeder series champion's first round win in the series, and came after sequential podiums at the category's last two events, on top of a memorable indoor battle with Ben Jenkins. Dave Steedman wound up finishing third for the night for Team DSR.
The night followed the category's recent reputation for giant-killing performances, with many of the favourites in the field knocked out in the early stages at the unique facility. The concrete surface and tight corners were an equaliser in the field, resulting in some surprise results.
Top qualifier and former champion Darren Kelly in his Nissan GT-R was knocked out by Steedman. Fellow former champ Cole Armstrong, and his recently rebuilt Nissan G35, meanwhile, also didn't make it to the final four.
The story was the same for 'Fanga Dan' Woolhouse and Carl Thompson. The two powerhouses made it into the top eight, before facing off against each other resulting in Woolhouse falling by the wayside.
With Thompson also falling short it resulted in a finals face-off between Burke and Jenkins, with Steedman and series leader Taylor James playing off for the final step of the podium in their own battle.
Jenkins' was one of the big stories of the day. Axle-related mechanical issues with the driver's regular 2JZ-powered Toyota 86 meant he was car-less for the competition.
That was until ProSport competitor Calvin Clark offered up his feeder-series Green Room Nissan S13 Silvia as a replacement for the event.
Back in an SR-powered car for the first time since switching to the 86, Jenkins was a giant-killer all evening; very nearly going all the way to victory despite having only a fraction of the power on tap of Burke and his largely self-built 2JZ-powered S13 Silvia.
Jenkins' opening chase was aggressive; the Auckland-based drifter retaining close proximity to Burke throughout the run and repeatedly nudging his left front wheel against Burke's right rear through the sweeper at the end of the course.
Burke was able to squeeze a 'One More Time' call from the judges in his following chase run, resulting in a sudden-death re-run. Burke was more convincing in the second half; ending the night with a tight, door-banging chase run to deny Jenkins the win.
The series now prepares to hit Pukekohe Park for the championship finale.