Drew Donovan returns to D1NZ with new look Supra
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This weekend’s round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship in Tauranga will see the return of a familiar pair of faces; Jodie Verhulst and Drew Donovan.
After sitting on the sidelines for the series’ opening round in Wellington, the partners are back and sporting a new primary sponsor in Cryptopia as well as a new-to-New Zealand Toyota Supra for Donovan.
The new look is a significant departure for both drivers, as is Donovan’s Toyota Supra, which he most recently drove at Sydney’s World Time Attack Challenge. The saving grace for the new car is that it features a similar powertrain to his Nissan Silvia S15 — an LS V8.
“I’m not seeing [adaptation] as being too much of a challenge ... but driving my old car, my S15, that was like an old pair of shoes. So with the new car, even though I’ve driven it a wee bit, there’s still going to be an element of getting used to it and becoming more and more comfortable,” Donovan told Driven.
“It’s perfect for me because I’ve driven V8s for years, and it’s certainly my preferred choice of engine. And that in itself makes the transition easier, because there is quite a different driving style between turbo and a big NA V8.”
The D1NZ grid continues to grow in size as well as quality, with new cars like “Fanga Dan” Woolhouse’s RTR Ford Mustang and Jaron Olivecrona’s V12-powered Nissan Silvia S14 setting the bar high for competition. For Donovan and Verhulst, it’s competitive miles overseas in locations like Japan that they hope will lift their game.
“Doing the driving that Jodie and I do overseas is really beneficial, because you get to drive with people who have different driving styles and with judges who have a different style, too.
“Going to Japan especially is something that Jodie and I have seen a lot of benefit in, and that coincided with last season. Jodie as well, her driving style is getting more and more aggressive. And that was an element that was missing.
“It’s the work you’re putting in outside of D1NZ that’s making the difference — and you have to, because everyone’s skills, cars, and talent are going higher and higher. And if you’re not doing the same, you’ll either just get left behind or be mid-pack.
“That’s not what we’re there for. We want to be at the pointy end.”
This weekend doubles as round two of the New Zealand Xtreme Motorsport Series — with D1NZ joined by the New Zealand Rally X Series, UTV Series, and Supermotor Cup in a multi-dimensional event that features each series on separate purpose-built courses at ASB Baypark Stadium.
“There’s heaps of people, everyone’s there, the crowd are loud and the cars are loud because it’s all contained in this dome — it makes for an awesome atmosphere not just for the spectators but also for us as drivers.
“And this year with the addition of the likes of rallycross and all the other things that D1NZ have somehow managed to squeeze into the event, it’s insane.
“To be honest I was a bit sceptical that it could even happen, but they’re managing to pull it together. And it’s cool, because it brings a whole lot of other motorsports and other fan bases together. You’re collaborating with all these other groups around the country, and that can only be a good thing. It gets more bums on seats, and exposes us and ourselves to more people. It’s probably got a wee way to go, but so far so good. It should be awesome.”