It's now starting to hit winter in New Zealand, the weather was pretty poor the day/night before round two of the "NZ Drift Series in association with NAC Insurance", and when we turned up to Pukekohe Park Raceway, Auckland it was wet. The track dried towards the end of the practice sessions, but there were big puddles on the inside of the sweeper at the start of the judged section. Ordinarily, entry speeds would be in excess of 180kph, but the bitterly cold day and the wet track combined to make it hell. Drivers were saying that the track had plenty of grip, then they’d hit the puddles and they’d lose grip, and then when they came out the other side they had no grip. There was plenty of carnage, with drivers hitting the wall, and a little bit of car-on-car carnage in both practice and battles.
It was pretty rare that a car that left the track didn’t come back covered in mud
Mad Mike’s finally ditched the motocross helmet and goggles for something a little more race friendly.
Ex-Formula Drift competitor, Jairus ‘JT’ Wharerau, interviewing fellow Mazda RX-7 driver, Daynom Templeman
2008 NZ Drift Series runner-up, Steve Sole, in driver’s briefing, with Gaz Whiter and Kyle Jackways
Filling up Mad Mike’s 20B-powered Mazda RX-8 with Red Bull fuel cans
Kyle Jackways hitting the wall HARD! Surprisingly, he was lucky to get away with as little damage as he did, as he hit it side on. Only bent suspension arms and buckled wheels were to show for it
Here's Kyle Jackways trying to qualify after hitting the wall and driving through the massive puddle around the sweeper. Unfortunately, he was unable to make the grid.
Steve Sole negotiating the puddle
2007 and 2008 NZ Drift Series champion, Carl Ruiterman, negotiating the sweeper in his Nissan Silvia S14.
Mad Mike around the sweeper entry moments before sending his rear bumper flying
It was that cold! A local drift photographer, Simon Anderson
Fanga Dan in his Top 16 battle against Cody Collis. Cody had driven into his door on the previous run in the battle. Fanga spun in the second after avoiding Cody’s messy driving out front.
Brendan Duncker’s Toyota Trueno AE85. This car was originally powered by a Toyota Altezza engine, but that has since been ditched, and a 12A triple rotor (making it an 18A) has been built by Brendan. This car sounds absolutely amazing – kind of like Mad Mike’s old 20B did.
Gaz Whiter in his Top 16 battle
Top 16 battle between 2008 Series champion, Carl Ruiterman, and 2008 runner-up Steve Sole. This pic shows Steve hitting Carl and spinning him, handing the advantage to Carl.
Mad Mike driving to a Top 4 spot after Johnny Udy (pictured on the grass in the background) had to bail out onto the grass in the chase to avoid hitting Mike around the sweeper. Evidently Mike had to make some form of correction that meant Johnny suddenly gained massive ground on Mike, and had to take a dive to the grass outside in order to not smash Mike’s rear quarter.
Cole Armstrong in his V Energy Drink sponsored 650hp Nissan Skyline R34 coupe. Cole finished seventh overall.
Teammaters Gaz Whiter and Fanga Dan battling in the Top 4 for a spot in the finals. Gaz took the narrowest of wins by 105 to 95.
Andrew Redward battling Mike in the Top 4 for a spot in the finals. Mike spun off on the second pass after having the advantage in the first pass. Andrew eventually finished second overall. (note the Speedhunters sticker on the headlight cover!)
Fanga Dan and Mad Mike battling for the final podium spot. Fanga spun in his chase, handing Mike the podium spot
Gaz Whiter leading Andrew Redward in the final battle. Gaz had the advantage out front on the first pass, and Andrew spun while leading in the second, gifting Gaz the win
Here are the top four cars.
A 5000-strong crowd battled the cold to watch the drift action!
Podium shot with Gaz in first, Andrew in second and Mike in third
Gaz has now won both NZ Drift Series events this year, giving him a strong lead in the championship. Mike is in second, with Andrew Redward moving up to third in the championship. Double-defending champion Carl Ruiterman is in fourth. Next round of the series is on August 30 at Taupo.