A Last Minute Trip to D1NZ

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I’ve always had a soft spot for the rhythmic smoke show of professional drifting, so to watch the competitive appeal of the sport slowly drop off here in Australia, particularly in NSW, has been quite sad. It’s an expensive sport that doesn’t get the support it deserves from local motorsport bodies, and although it continues to flourish overseas, the decline of the professional level in Australia is all too visible. In New Zealand however, it couldn’t be more different.

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Last month I was in Auckland visiting family, and during my trip I found out that Round 1 of D1NZ was being held just 40 minutes from where I was staying. I jumped straight on the website and applied for media within about ten minutes of the cut-off time. A quick SOS call to Canon Professional Services NZ confirmed a 400mm Prime lens and a few hours later, the call came through. We were going to be giving Garage Journal an insight to Skids: The Kiwi Edition.

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I must admit I don’t really keep my ear to the ground on the drift scene across the ditch so it was all quite a new experience. Other than the big international names of the likes of Fanga Dan, Carl Thompson (Fat Boy Drift) and Darren Kelly, alongside some hometown talent from Matty Hill, the field was fairly unknown to me.

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The first thing that really hits you at these events is the sheer caliber of the cars competing. 800+ hp isn’t unusual, in fact it is the norm. Cars are low, wide and ABSURDLY loud. The Kiwi’s attitude to motorsport was refreshing. There were no 96DB noise level limits being enforced around here and that fostered an environment where all skill levels had the opportunity to show what they’re made of. Rookies right through to international level drifting superstars. I’m glad to report that the driver skill matched the quality of the rear-drive rocket ships they were piloting.

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‘Trust Power BayPark Stadium’ played host and and offered the perfect venue with a tight and technical course. The track features a  long right hander that runs along the wall into a peanut shape, then back down the length of the stadium into turn one. Fans lined the wire fence, so close to the action that they’d get absolutely engulfed in rubber and tyresmoke from the 4th gear passes along the banked turn one.The atmosphere that filled the stadium was electric. The collective roar from fans when a driver threw down an awesome run was unforgettable.

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The level of passion amongst the entire drift community was something I haven’t really seen anywhere before. In Australia there’s definitely huge love amongst our drift and car scene in general, but to see D1NZ receiving the unbridalled support of the wider motorsport community was extremely refreshing and painted a picture of how successful drifting back home could be.