Drift title goes down to wire

Mad Whiddett
Mad Whiddett

Three-time former D1NZ title holder Gary ‘Gaz’ Whiter, Kiwi international ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett, or 2011/12 D1NZ champion Curt Whittaker will fight for the 2013/14 Cody’s D1NZ National Drifting Championship at Mt Smart Stadium this weekend.

“It really is going to go down to the wire. Realistically it’s between Gaz and Mike – there’s only 30.5 points between them – but you never know. Pretty much anyone in the top 10 is capable of winning a round right now and whoever wins the round will have a bearing on who gets the 2013/14 title,” D1NZ boss Brendon White.

“Curt’s been there or thereabouts all season. Andrew Redwards, who’s fourth, won at Bay Park in January. ‘Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse is fifth and you can never count him out. And what about our V8 Supercar star,  Shane Van Gisbergen? He got his first podium at Hampton Downs in November last year and his second in Christchurch last month. If he comes through and wins at Mt Smart where does that leave Gaz and Mike?”

White ran a successful night round on a temporary drift track at Mt Smart two years ago and says running under lights adds a ‘whole new dimension’ to the already high-octane mix of a typical Cody’s D1NZ drift series round.

“There’s more of  a party atmosphere for sure. The drivers get into it, the crowd gets into it, it’s mega.”

Fans face another full roster of battles in both the Pro-Am and D1 Pro divisions on Friday andSaturday as close to 60 drivers vie for points and position across the two classes.

If anything the battle for a 2013/14 series title is even closer in the Pro-Am category with Vincent Langhorn (Nissan Laurel) from the North Shore having finally leap-frogged Tom Marshall (ATJ International Nissan S13) from Kerikeri for the series points lead after class wins at the two most recent rounds.

However one of the other emerging Auckland drifters, Gareth Grove (Spill Response NZ Nissan S14), is only 13 points back in second with another, Kumeu’s Joel Hedges (C’s Garage Nissan S13), third and the Marshall brothers, Tom and Joe (ATJ International Nissan 180 SX), now fourth and fifth respectively, but still within easy reach (50 points) of Langhorn.

In the two years since the Cody’s series was last at Mt Smart both the presentation and profile of the sport have come on in leaps and bounds with rounds now regularly attracting over 5000 paying spectators, and the sport now second only in popularity – in motorsport terms anyway – to speedway.

White continues to invest heavily in facilities for the fan-base at temporary venues like Mt Smart, this time erecting a 2000-seat grandstand at the south end of the drift section and putting on entertainment between drift brackets and a complementary fireworks display to cap off the round and series.

“It’s about entertainment and giving the fans something they will remember,” he says.

Gates open on Friday at 9.00am and on Saturday at 12.30pm.

 

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