Record Crowd Watches Woolhouse Win
Record Crowd Watches Woolhouse Win Second Cody's D1nz Round in a Row
A record crowd watched Whangarei driver Daniel 'Fanga Dan' Woolhouse (Castrol Edge Holden Commodore V8) claim his second win in a row at the third round of the 2012/13 Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship in the Bay of Plenty on Sunday.
Over 5000 spectators flocked to the two-day meeting held on a tight, technical temporary drift course in the grounds of Mount Maunganui's Bay Park stadium with the win seeing former D1NZ champion and recent Whangarei round winner Woolhouse further extend his early season lead in the overall series points standings and take the lead in the three-round BP Ultimate 98 Triple Crown competition from round one winner Curt Whittaker (Autosure 2JZ Nissan R34).
On a day which saw top qualifier and three-time former D1NZ champion Gary 'Gaz' Whiter (Tectaloy Nissan S14 V8) end his day against one of the unforgiving concrete walls and high-profile international 'Mad Mike' Whiddett (Red Bull/Speedhunters Mazda RX7) fight back from a bruising Top 16 clash with Gary Tenana only to lose out to series young gun Nico Reid (Luxury Sports Nissan S15) in the Top 8, Woolhouse won the day from Aucklanders Andrew Redward (Achilles Tyre Mazda RX7 V8) and Hugo Mclean (Grabatool/Hoonigan Toyota Levin 20B).
Mclean, who has developed a cult following around the world thanks to his now Mazda rotary-engined Toyota Levin, was the big mover of the meeting, battling his way into podium contention after qualifying in 25th position.
While his passage into the Top 16 was helped when battle partner Bruce Tannock (Achilles Tyre Nissan S13) hit the wall, he had to work doubly hard for his other wins, having to go One More Time to beat defending Cody's D1NZ title holder Curt Whittaker to progress to the Top 8 and One More Time again against series pioneer Sean Falconer (Falconer Motorsport Nissan S13) to get to the Top 4.
Though he was finally beaten there by eventual runner-up Andrew Redward, Mclean took on and beat Whangarei round runner-up Nico Reid in the battle for the final podium spot, his first in the D1NZ Pro ranks.
The big news in the Pro-Am support class was the performance of local driver Jodie Verhulst (Mag & Turbo Tauranga/Elf Toyota Supra), the country's top female drifter qualifying third and finishing second overall to round two category winner Darren Kelly (DKM Fabrication Nissan Skyline R32).
Kelly, on the come-back trail after blowing a turbo and scoring no points at the first round of this season's Cody's D1NZ series at Manfeild, had another dream run at the Baypark stadium, claiming the top spot in qualifying before beating Vincent Hopkins (Nissan Skyline R32) in the Top 16, Joe Kukutai (Kukutai Transport Nissan Skyline R32) in the Top 8 and Michael Thorley (Femme Fatale Nissan Laurel) in the Top 4.
Verhulst also had a strong early run beating Adrian Rivers to progress to the Top 8, Adam Davies to make it into the Top 4 and former motorcycle champion Sam Smith from Pukekohe to get into the final two.
Of the other local drivers competing at the event, Cole Armstrong (V Energy Nissan Skyline R34) qualified eighth but lost out on his Top 16 battle with Nico Reid, Ben Belcher (Green Brothers Racing Mazda RX7) qualified 27th but lost to Armstrong in the Top 32 and Aden Omnet (Adenstyres.co.nz Toyota Altezza) qualified 16th but lost out to Sean Falconer in the Top 16.
Jodie Verhulst's partner, Drew Donovan, also lost his Top 16 battle but it was always going to be a struggle; having run a bearing in his car's Chev V8 engine in practice on Saturday he and his crew worked most of the night to fit a borrowed Nissan six cylinder one so that Donovan could compete on Sunday.
V8 Supercar racer Shane van Gisbergen (Federal Tyres Ford Falcon V8) returned to the Cody's series for his second outing in the Federal Tyres' Rattla Motorsport Ford Falcon at Baypark and after qualifying 12th overall won his Top 32 battle against fellow Aucklander Sky Zhao (2 Degrees Nissan 570Z) but lost out to Zak Pole (Bullit HD Nissan Skyline R33) in the Top 8.
The battle for Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship honours heads to Hampton Downs now where the fourth round of the 2012/13 title chase will be fought out over the March 01-02 weekend.