Van der Drift to race in Porsche
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VERSATILE DRIVER GETS TEAM SPOT AFTER YEARS OF TEMPORARY ROLES
The much overused adage that you “can’t keep a good man down” has certainly rung true for a Kiwi motor racing professional, Chris van der Drift.
The New Zealander has been punting just about every form of racecar there is, on every continent on the planet, but has not been able to land a season-long gig — until now.
The 29-year-old has built a reputation as the “go to” man in sports car racing over the past few years when a team is short of a co-driver for the main pilot. In most instances the Kiwi turned up late, put in a few familiarising laps, and was either near the top of the time sheets, if not on top of them.
The former Formula Master, Formula BMW and Formula Renault champion has also raced in the A1GP, AutoGP, Superleague, World Series, Blancpain Series and Brazilian Stockcar championship.
The last time van der Drift had a full-time drive was back in 2010 when he joined an elite club of drivers who have launched a single-seater in the air at 250km/h.
The Kiwi clipped the back of Frenchman Julien Jousse’s car at Brands Hatch during a Superleague race, rocketing his car into the air. It smashed into the bridge railing at Pilgrims Drop before crashing back to earth in a ball of fire and disintegrating into hundreds of bits as it pirouetted down the track.
Fortunately the flames were extinguished as quickly as they had ignited, but van der Drift was not so lucky. He sustained a broken right ankle and right little finger, fractured shoulder blade, two broken ribs and a severely damaged left index finger.
Making a rapid recovery, he was back racing seven weeks later but was never able to nail down a permanent drive.
Things have all changed for 2015 and van der Drift has been signed up to race a full Porsche Carrera Cup Asia (PCCA) championship for KLM Porsche Racing.
“It’s all been a last-minute thing really. Seriously, we only finalised the deal a few days ago and the first race is next weekend,” said van der Drift as he packed his bags before catching a flight to Italy for a few days’ work.
“I’m racing for Earl’s [Bamber] old team [where he won back-to-back PCCA championships]. We met for dinner and he said his old team were looking for a driver. I said I’d be interested and it came together pretty fast.
“It’s all down to Earl that I got the drive and massive thanks to him. I’m looking forward to being able to know when I’m racing for the rest of the year.”
Over the past four years since his crash, van der Drift has been quietly building a strong reputation as the ideal sportscar endurance co-driver who will not only get the car towards the pointy end of the field, but also mentor his colleague.
The Kiwi hasn’t spent much time in the Porsche 911 GT Cup Car, having only had a punt around Bathurst in a 12 Hour race in a 2009-spec car. The cars have developed a lot since then but van der Drift isn’t daunted by the challenge, having recently raced a McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car in the Blancpain Series.
“I don’t have long before the first race and at least I’ve been to the track in the past,” said van der Drift. “It shouldn’t take me too long to get familiar with the car and I can’t wait to get racing.”