Let's pick up from where we left off from Round 2 of the Rockstar Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship with this shot of Kurt Holland securing 11th position during qualifying. Drivers had Day One to practice but now it was time to get down to business.
Rookie and Pro drivers attended the all-important track briefing early in the morning.
Here you can see the track layout at Manfield Raceway. Note the judged section running from before turn 2 to well after turn 5.
How nice is this view above pit lane? You can see turn 3 all the way to turn 5 in this shot. It wasn't long before the morning kicked off with D1 qualifying – so let's take a look at some of the drivers who made it through.
Unfortunately Jake Jones didn't make it into the Top 16.
Sky Zhao also didn't make the Top 16 but managed to do some pretty crazy entries into the hairpin!
Jason Sellers in his great looking Toyota 2JZ powered C33 Laurel placed lucky 13th.
Aaron Bennett, driving his very tidy S13, charged through to 12th position.
Kurt Holland worked hard for his 11th spot in qualifying.
Cole Armstrong powered his way into 10th position in qualifying.
Mad Mike in his Mazda RX-7 qualified in a worthy 9th spot.
Fastest entry of the day went to Adam Richards in his A31 Cefiro who also picked up a nice 8th spot with Daynom Templeman scoring 7th position.
Australian Josh Coote drove well to snatch 6th spot.
I was unsure if Gaz Whiter was going to be able to compete after his engine problems on Day One. However, he showed up after a frantic installation of a borrowed head the night before and laid down a solid run rewarding him with 5th place.
Paul Tomlin from the South Island also drove well and secured a very respectable 4th – check out the smoke from this S13!
Curt Whittaker pictured above in the blue R34 Skyline grabbed 3rd position.
Carl Ruiterman pushed his E&H Motors S14 Silvia hard through the tight track and earned himself the 2nd place qualifier spot.
Andrew Redward drove his S14 Silvia amazingly well in qualifying earning him the top spot. This was made all the more impressive by the fact the car he was piloting wasn't even his primary competition car… and to top it off he was driving with a broken thumb!
Top 16 Placings:
1st – Andrew Redward
2nd – Carl Ruiterman
3rd – Curt Whittaker
4th – Paul Tomlin
5th – Gaz Whiter
6th – Josh Coote
7th – Daynom Templeman
8th – Adam Richards
9th – Mike Whiddet
10th – Cole Armstrong
11th – Kurt Holland
12th – Aaron Bennet
13th – Jason Sellers
14th – Gee Mutch
15th – Mac Kowk
16th – Gart Tenana
Moving on to the top 16 battles there was a huge upset, with Gary Tenana knocking out top qualifier Andrew Redward.
Adam Richards' speed and aggressive driving was too much for Mad Mike. Adam progressed to the top 8.
Gaz Whiter who was driving like an animal on a borrowed engine head defeated Aaron Bennett.
Top 8 Placings:
Adam Richards continued on his roll in the top 8, leaving Gary Tenana in his dust.
Gaz Whiter also pushed hard, creating a huge gap and knocking Paul Tomlin out of the top 8.
The battles kept coming as Curt Whittaker in his R34 defeated Josh Coote in his 180SX.
Cole Armstrong in his V powered R34 defeated Carl Ruiterman (above) to round out our top 4 drivers.
The battle for 3rd and 4th saw Adam Richards in his Cefiro come out on top to claim the bottom step on the podium.
The battle for 1st and 2nd heated up with Round 1 winner Curt Whittaker taking the lead.
Then, in a further twist to an already dramatic couple of days, Curt Whittaker was unable to complete his chase run after a belt snapped. He wasn't able to repair it within the five minute rule, handing Gaz Whiter the victory.
Looking back on day one's troubles, Gaz Whiter certainly deserved his miraculous victory.
Huge celebrations from all three top drivers.
Victory burnouts on a borrowed engine – it doesn't get any better than that!
Cole Armstrong salutes the crowd.
Curt Whittaker returns to the pits after some victory burnouts, no doubt happy with his day's effort.
Even after the competition had finished Mad Mike was still out there putting on a great show during the afternoon's expression session.
Check out Mad Mike as he switches down the front straight.
Well that's it for Round 2, here's a shot from our hotel with Carlos Walter's R33 Skyline dimly lit by the setting Palmerston North sun.
Bring on Round 3 of the Rockstar Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship, which will be New Zealand's first night round!
Rockstar Energy Drink National Drifting Championship D1NZ Standings:
1st Curt Whittaker R34
2nd Carl Ruiterman S14
3rd Gaz Whiter S14
4th Cole Armstrong R34
5th Mike Whiddet FDRX7
6th Adam Richards A31
6th Josh Coote 180SX
8th Andrew Redward S14
9th Paul Tomlin S13
10th Gee Mutch S13
11th Gary Tenana S14
12th Daynom Templeman FD RX-7
13th Cody Collis A31
14th Kurt Holland S15
15th Drew Donovan S15
16th Chris Trundle FC RX-7
17th Sky Zhao S15
18th Jason Sellers C33
19th Jamie Nelson S14
20th Simon Uquart AE86
21st Mac Kowk S13
22nd Chris Protheroe S14
23th Gene Rhodes S15
24th Aaron Bennet S13
25th Simon Hunter S14
26th Blair Martin R32.4
27th Daniel Woolhouse S15
28th Jake Jones ONEVIA
29th Shane Rutland S14
30st Bruuce Tannock S13
31nd Hugo Maclean AE86
32rd Glen McFarlane C33
33th Steven Sole JZX90