National Drifting Championship Series
CODY'S D1NZ NATIONAL DRIFTING
For immediate release
* 2012/13 CODY'S D1NZ National
Drifting Championship Series
SERIES PREVIEW # 4
TOP DRIFTER CUTTING IT FINE FOR FRIDAY
Top New Zealand drifter 'Mad Mike' Whiddett (Red Bull/Speedhunters Mazda RX7) will be cutting it fine in the run-up to the opening round of the Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship at Feilding's Manfeild motor racing circuit on Friday and Saturday - for the past month the Auckland-based international has spent more time overseas than at home.
Whiddett, who won the opening round of the 2011/12 Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship series at Manfeild last year and went on to finish a close second to fellow Aucklander Curt Whittaker in the overall series standings, was at the final round of the United States' Formula Drift series at the Irwindale Speedway oval in California a fortnight ago as a guest of sponsor Speedhunters, and last weekend he was in Jordan as a guest of sponsor Red Bull at the final round of the Middle East's Red Bull Car Park Drift Series.
"He definitely gets around," says Cody's D1NZ series CEO and event organiser Brendon White."This year alone Mike has competed here, in Japan and in Australia, done a demo in Norway and been a guest at the final round of Formula Drift at Irwindale and the car park series in Jordan. He loves it and it's certainly good for our series here. Everyone in the drift fraternity around the world knows Mad Mike and everyone knows he's from little old New Zealand."
This weekend Whiddett is one of 34 drivers entered in the premier D1 category and a similar number entered in Pro-Am. at the opening 2012/13 series round at Manfeild. It's the biggest field in the 10 year history of drifting in New Zealand and is a graphic indication, particularly given tight on-going economic conditions, of just how healthy the sport is.
"We're certainly very proud of where our sport is at the moment," says White. "We're in our tenth year yet we're still growing. Not just at the top end that the Cody's championship represents either. The sport is absolutely pumping at a grass roots level and it's that growth which each year is feeding into Pro-Am which in turn gives us a fresh pool of drivers ready to move up to D1 each season."
Thanks to his 2011/12 series title Aucklander Curt Whittaker (Toyota 2JZ-powered Nissan Skyline R34) heads into this weekend's Finman Software Solutions-backed Cup round at Manfeild as the favourite.
Up against him, however, are no less than three other former D1NZ champions in Gary 'Gaz' Whiter (Tectaloy Nissan S14) from Dargaville, 'Fanga Dan' Woolhouse (Castrol Edge Holden Commodore V8) from Whangarei and Carl Ruiterman (GT Radials Nissan S14) from Pukekohe.
Add in the likes of Whiddett and fellow internationals Cole Armstrong (V Energy Drink Nissan Skyline R34) from Tauranga, Daynom Templeman (NAC Insurance Mazda RX7) from Auckland and the winner of this year's inaugural North Island vs South Island Drift Challenge at Timaru earlier in the year, Troy Forsythe (Nissan S13) from Christchurch, and you have as many as eight drivers - maybe even more - capable of claiming the number one spot on Saturday afternoon.
Forsyth, aka The Family Guy,' is one of a four-strong contingent of South Islanders set to contest all six rounds of this year's Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship, which - after a year's hiatus - again features a round at their home track, Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna Park, near Christchurch. Joining him are the winner of the opening round of the 2011/12 Drift South series, Cody Collis (Nissan S13), plus fellow Christchurch drivers Jonny Latham (HBR Mazda RX7 V8) and Tom Hadlee (Nissan Skyline R32.4).
The opening round also sees the first competitive drifting appearance of New Zealand V8 Supercar series star Shane van Gisbergen. The 23-year-old has been keen on trying the sport for some time and he and sponsors SP Tools and Monster Energy have teamed up with young New Zealand drifter Shane Allen to share Allen's V8-engined Ford Falcon in this year's Cody's D1NZ championship. Because of his commitments with the V8 Supercar series van Gisbergen cannot commit himself to all rounds but he is doing the first one at Manfeild and the third at Tauranga in the New Year.
After a test season in the car at Hampton Downs earlier this month van Gisbergen says that he has still got a lot to learn but that he is definitely looking forward to the challenge.
"It's different, but not that different," he says of drifting Allen's Auckland & Waikato Crane Hire-backed Falcon. "The hardest part is letting go of the steering wheel when you want to change direction. It's going to take me a while to get used to that!"
Having learned his skills of loose surfaces, first in a Quarter Midget at Auckland's Western Springs and later racing four-wheel ATVs, van Gisbergen already knows a lot about sliding. But he makes it very clear he is in the Codys D1NZ series to learn, not to take away any of the limelight from the established stars.
"I'm definitely excited about doing it but like anything you have to learn to walk before you can run and that's what I'll be doing at Manfeild and Tauranga."
In the Pro-Am category, meanwhile, one of the drivers to watch at Manfeild on Friday will be to Wanganui drifter Ricky Lee (Famous clothing Mazda RX7). Another set to impress is Auckland's Darren Kelly (DKM Nissan Skyline R32).
Also, proving that drifting is not just a male domain are Jodie Verhulst (Drift Motorsport Toyota Supra) from Tauranga and Bex Bennett (Bennett Industries Nissan Skyline R32) from Auckland who are making their Cody's D1NZ championship debut this season in the Pro-Am category.
This year's Manfeild round will be run over two days, Friday and Saturday with practice, qualifying and the Top 16 Pro-Am battles, and D1 practice on Friday then the Top Eight Pro-Am battles and full D1 programme on Saturday. For more information go to the Cody's D1NZ facebook page.
D1NZ NATIONAL DRIFTING CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Rnd 1: Oct 26-27 2012 Manfeild Feilding
Rnd 2: Dec 01-02 2012 Whangarei
Rnd 3: Jan 19-20 2013 Tauranga
Rnd 4: March 01-02 2013 Hampton Downs incl. Legends Challenge
Rnd 5 March 30-31 2013 Powerbuilt Tools Raceway @ Ruapuna Park Christchurch
Rnd 6: April-May 2013 Grand Final Pukekohe Park Raceway