D1NZ Drifters ready for Hampton Downs

Team DMNZ drifter Jodie Verhulst will be a force to be reckoned with having tested on the Hampton Downs circuit already. Supplied Photos.

Organisers of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship pride themselves on giving their competitors a challenge, the penultimate round of the series on March 25-26 looks set to continue that trend.

Traditionally the series competed through the turn two and three section of the National Circuit. However, the series this season will instead compete on the newly built Club Circuit—an extension to the pre-existing track.

D1NZ competitors and fans will be most familiar with the National Circuit, but the change this year means the drivers will face another new challenge.

Some competitors have already taken the chance to try out the circuit, but the opinion is split between drivers who've tested so far. Team DMNZ drifters Jodie Verhulst and Drew Donovan had mixed feelings about the tight circuit, which begins with a hairpin right-hander.  

“I think you need a lot of horsepower on this track,” Verhulst said.

“You can get some of the tracks which balance the field and it doesn't matter if you turn up in a 300 kw car, I like those sorts of tracks, but this one is going to be tricky.”

Verhulst and Donovan both took to Hampton Downs in the lead up to the fourth round. Arthur Lee, Jase Brown, and Benjamin Wilkinson all tested on the circuit as they got a feel for the new section, many cited the challenge the circuit poses.

The drift section begins with a fast entry, but will see the drifter scrub off speed as they head 90-degrees into the hairpin right hander. The first switch takes the drifters into a tight cambered left hander before attacking a 180-degree sweeping right hander towards a rolling finish.

Donovan believed the track will provides the series with some exceptional sights for spectators and media alike, as the track puts on a smoke show with it's mix of fast and tight flowing turns. Despite the tough nature of the track, he said he's looking forward to it.

“It's a cool track, and a really cool track for television footage because there's going to be such sick photos and awesome footage in general because it'll be smokey,” Donovan said.

He said the track will be one of the toughest on the calendar, with car setup likely to play a massive role across the weekend.

“This particular track – just from the short amount of driving I've done on it – is really a setup track. If you get the setup right here you'll do well. All you need then is a little bit of luck on your side.”

“This track is a bit like Dunedin, it's a bit like Baypark, it's new. Not many people have driven it, so that's a cool factor.”

D1NZ Category Manager Brendon White said the fourth round of the series will give the wider Waikato and South Auckland region an opportunity to see drifting on their doorstep.

"It's exciting to be able to bring the series to another new track for the third time this year,” White said. “From a driver's perspective I don't think you can get a better season or playing field.”

The series has already undertaken two new circuits with the 2016–'17 calendar opening at the Southern Hemisphere first indoor drift event inside Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium. The series then took on ASB Baypark Stadium inside the speedway walls, which included a wall ride in the drift section.

White said adding the Club Circuit to the calendar will put the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship competitors to the test.

“The new Hampton Downs Club Circuit is favoured highly with the drivers. To have over 70 of New Zealand's best attack the track for the first time this season is going to be great for some high speed open track drifting.” “This is the Waikato's chance to see drivers from all over New Zealand and Australia go door to door in a great new facility.

“It'll be a tough track for the drivers to get their head around with a set of hairpins before transitioning into a fast sweeper, but these challenges are what they thrive on—it'll be mega!”

Round four of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship takes place at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park over March 25-26 for the first time on the newly built Club Circuit. For more information visit D1NZ.com


Nico Reid will be one of the favourites heading into round four as the fourth placed drifter in the points.



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An afternoon surf. Photo by Josh Casey. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. photos@thesun.co.nz