Concrete 'Clipping Points' Hold No Fear For Drifter
CODY'S D1NZ NATIONAL DRIFTING CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
For immediate release
* 2013/14 CODY'S D1NZ National Drifting Championship Series incorporating the inaugural New Zealand Allstars Action Sports event
ROUND 3 PREVIEW #3
Concrete 'Clipping Points' Hold No Fear For High Profile Drifter 'Mad Mike'
The drift section at the ASB Baypark complex is lined with concrete barriers. But despite a brush with them last year they hold no fear for 'Mad Mike' Whiddett, the high profile Auckland-based international who leads the 2013/14 Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship series points standings ahead of the third round at the big Bay of Plenty venue this weekend.
"They're my favourite style of tracks," says Whiddett, the Red Bull and Speedhunters-backed professional who travels the world doing drift events and demos in his signature rotary-engined Mazdas.
"They're all about precision driving and to gain the maximum points you need to be 110% focused because one small correction and it is game over."
Three-time former D1NZ champion Gary 'Gaz' Whiter (Tectaloy Nissan S14 V8) found that out first hand at last year's inaugural Baypark event when he hit the barriers on the outside of the first turn hard. Whiddett also found himself with first-hand experience of the concrete when Gary Tenana spun in front of him and he grazed them trying to avoid Tenana's car yet he still rates the two 'stadium' rounds of the Cody's D1NZ championship series as some of the best.
"They're where I shine, I guess," he says,"where, if you like, I'm in my element.'
Whiddett heads to the Bay with a two-point lead in the 2013/14 series points standings after finishing second to Gaz Whiter at the first round at the Hampton Downs circuit then winning the second at Whangarei when - in their final battle - Whiter slid wide into the first corner...and grazed the concrete barriers!
Third - and looking for another stand-out performance this weekend - is a driver more usually associated with circuit racing, Shane Van Gisbergen.
The 24-year-old who shares one of the most powerful cars in the field, the 460 cu .in. Ford V8-engined Falcon nick-named 'The Rattla' with namesake Shane Allen, contested three rounds of last season's Codys' D1NZ Championship series and - having thoroughly enjoyed himself - committed to doing all six this season.
He started in style too, ending up third at the first round at Hampton Downs and seventh at Whangarei to be third overall heading to the 'Bay ahead of 2011/12 Cody's D1NZ champion Curt Whittaker (Autosure Warranties 2JZ Nissan Skyline R34) and local hero Cole Armstrong (V Energy Nissan Skyline R34).
Last year's inaugural ASB Baypark stadium round broke all Cody's D1NZ series attendance records, with the organisers having to shut the gates on Sunday when they reached the venue's capacity (the weekend figure was 7500) and Armstrong says the response when the local drivers (a group which included himself, Ben Belcher and Drew Donovan in the D1 Pro class, and Geoff Muggeridge and the country's top female drifter, Jodie Verhulst, in the Pro-Am support class) was 'incredible.'
"Being able to perform in front of your home crowd is just such a buzz and everybody got right behind us last year so I'm definitely looking forward to going back (to the Baypark arena) this weekend."
This ASB Baypark round has again attracted a capacity field of 32 in the D1 Pro class and just under 30 in Pro-Am. With a new X Games-style New Zealand Allstars action sports festival being run alongside it event organiser Brendon White expects the event to be both bigger and better than last year's with the potential to grow even bigger in coming years.
"There's just so much potential in the venue," he said this week." Last year we just used the car park, this year we're using the car park and the stadium and next year we could possibly use the speedway oval."
With last year's winner, Aucklander Darren Kelly (Thirsty Liquor Nissan R34) and third place-getter, Jodie Verhulst (Milwaukee Tools Toyota Supra) moving up to the D1 Pro class this season the Pro-Am support class this year looks set to be a battle between Aucklanders Troy Jenkins (Juice Polishes Nissan S15) and Gareth Grove (Spill Response NZ Nissan S14).
Each has won a round of the series so far, though Far North brothers Joe and Tom Marshall (ATJ International Nissan S13 and 180SX) impressed at the opening round at Hampton Downs and remain a threat after the second round, as do Aucklanders Joel Hedges (C's Garage Nissan S13) and Michael Thorley (Femme Fatale Nissan Laurel).
As well as the cream of the country's Drifting talent the New Zealand Allstars event has attracted an impressive line-up of action sports talent from the other genres.
Kiwi international, Nick Franklin, will go head-to-head with fellow Kiwis Mitch McHardy and Luke Smith, and Australian Truman Carroll on the Metal Mulisha NZ Allstars FMX competition presented by Adens Tyres outside, while inside the stadium Freestyle BMX riders to look out for in the New Zealand Allstars Freestyle BMX competition presented by BMX.co.nz include 18-year-old Jaden Leeming from Auckland, International Premium team rider Josh De Reus from Cambridge and Colony BMX rider Liam Marshall .
Skateboarders set to impress, meanwhile, include local pros Dan Gemmell (Element) and Umberto Skinner (Boom Skateboards), former national champion Rueben Baker (Eshe Skateboards) and members of the SOUF skate team.
Completing the picture, Red Bull Thre3style champ DJ Scizzorhands will host the inaugural New Zealand Allstars Iron Finger scratch battle presented by Defy Club and Epik Eyewear with eight of New Zealand's top DJs all competing.
Tickets for the event are available from iticket (http://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2014/jan/the-codys-d1nz-national-drifting-championship-round-3) with prices starting at $20 per person on Saturday and $30 per person on Sunday.
An early sign of how big the event could be is that pit passes have already sold out with VIP passes expected to follow suit before the weekend.
For more information go to www.d1nz.com or the d1nz facebook page.