On the 8th and 9th of January the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship rolled into Tauranga for the third time, this year it was the second round on the calendar, and would also now be a night round. Tauranga is the only concrete jungle round on the calendar for this season, this probably caused a sigh of relief for some drivers, as concrete always seems to guarantee plenty of carnage!

Photo 1The weather on the Friday turned out to be a tad wet, so drivers were taking it very easy most of the day to try and get the car setup for the track while also trying to avoid putting it in the wall.

Photo 2The wet weather was a new challenge for me, as I haven’t shot drifting in the rain before, but the spray made for some really cool photos!

Photo 3Surprisingly (luckily) even as the weather got wetter and wetter, there weren’t any major impacts with the wall. Only a few light taps, paint brushes, and a couple of harder taps that bent a bit of bodywork.

Photo 4As the day went on, the weather got increasingly inclement, by the afternoon a LOT of standing water out on track.,This created an even bigger challenge for drivers, but was awesome for the brave spectators and also made for some epic photos!

Photo 5The downside to the increasing rain is that it doesn’t mix well with our camera gear. I sought out some shelter in an effort to keep dry. I found an awesome spot too, Up in the judges/ spotters tower! In the tower I had an amazing view looking down on the first outside clip.

Photo 6The weather continued to get worse the decision was made between the drivers, teams, and D1NZ staff to delay qualifying until Saturday for the safety of the drivers.  This meant that the event was cut short for the day, wrapping up around 5 pm. The gates would be opened early the next day.

Photo 7Saturday kicked off with alternating practice sessions for Pro Sport, and Pro, this allowed drivers and teams to get the cars re-setup for the dry conditions.

Photo 8The dry conditions meant drivers were getting much closer to the walls than on the Friday, due to having more confidence in the dry.

Photo 9As expected,  We saw plenty of carnage even before qualifying had officially started. Drivers were pushing much harder in the dry conditions, with several going hard into the wall on the second outside clip, and the last outer zone.
The cars vs concrete battle was on. Concrete usually seemed to win.

Photo 10Qualifying started around 1:30 pm, Pro Sport would qualify first, followed by Pro, Each driver would get two non-consecutive runs each to try and put a score on the board, usually drivers will lay down a safe run to get a score on the board, and then push hard in their second run to try and set a higher score.

Photo 11Jase Brown took pole position in Pro Sport, followed by Chad McKenzie in second and Tauranga local Calvin Clark in third.

Photo 12Pole in Pro was taken by Fanga Dan Woolhouse, in second was local, and last year’s round winner in Tauranga, Cole Armstrong, with another local, Adam Davies in third position.

Photo 13After Qualifying was finished there was a lunch break, and pit walk so all the fans could get their selfies, and signed posters, I don’t have any photos of this, as I was too busy getting signed posters myself, I know, not very professional, but I  like posters. 😉

Photo 14After lunch it was time for Pro Sport battles, there was some really, really good battles, these drivers are the future of D1NZ, and there is some real talent in the field. A couple of crowd favourites were unfortunately knocked out in the Top 16, Ian McShean, otherwise known as Rotang Datsun, was knocked out by Matt Higham.

Photo 15Another crowd favourite knocked out in Top 16 was Kieran Stewart, Kieran’s MX5 was the lowest powered car in the field, with the 1.6 litre engine only pumping out 106 HP. Even though he may not have been the most powerful, or the fastest car out there, he always got one of the biggest cheers from the crowd.

Photo 16After some intense battles, Vincent Hopkins took the top step of the Podium in Pro Sport, with Chad McKenzie taking second, and local man Calvin Clark claiming third.

Photo 17It was then time for Pro Top 32 introductions, and driver interviews before the Top 32, and of course, there were burnouts as the drivers made their way back to the pits.

Photo 18Then it was straight into Top 32 battles, the Top 6 qualifying drivers would get a bye, since only 26 drivers qualified, this meant they went straight through into Top 16.

Photo 19Unfortunately guest driver Ryan Tuerck in the Toyotaz Galore GT86, got knocked out in Top 32 due to a mis-shift going into the second outside clip, straightening the car out and handing Aden Omnet the win.

Photo 20Top 16 was interesting as the sun was starting to set, and was right in the drivers eyes on entry, it did provide some beautiful light though! Both Team DSR teammates Adam Davies and Dave Steedman went up against each other, Dave ended up coming out on top after Adam made a couple of mistakes giving Dave the advantage and putting him through to the Top 8

Photo 21Nico Reid and Joe Marshall would also do battle, both drivers had been on form all day long, and it was an epic battle, with Nico Reid just edging out Joe for the win.

Photo 22The other Marshall Brother, Tom, went up against Troy Jenkins, and after a very close battle he managed to take the win, both Tom and Joe will be drivers to keep a close eye on, as they are very talented, they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with once they have a season in Pro under their belts!

Photo 23Top 16 would also see Australian Michael Prosenik go up against Tauranga local Cole Armstrong, Prosenik was on fire, and was all over Cole’s door on his chase run, he also threw down a stunning lead lap, and walked away with the win.

Photo 24During some downtime in between a couple of battles in Top 16, Joe Marshall came out and laid down a massive burnout in his RB26 powered 180SX to keep the crowd entertained.

Photo 25In Top 8 Michael Prosenik would go up against Adam Hedges, this was an epic set of battles, both drivers threw down flawless runs, with the judges calling two one more time battles, and still not being able to decide, it ended up going to sudden death, where Michael Prosenik finally took the victory over Adam Hedges.

Photo 26Curt Whittaker did battle with Daynom Templeman, Daynom was looking incredibly comfortable in the 2JZ powered BMW, despite it only being his second round driving the car. Daynom would be triumphant over Curt Whittaker, and go through to the Top 4.

Photo 27Michael Prosenik’s hard charge was cut short in the Top 4 by Nico Reid, both drivers were pushing hard, but in the end Nico edged out Michael for the win. Michael would go up against Tom Marshall, in the battle for third and fourth, but unfortunately missed out on a podium after a steering component failed causing him to spin.

Photo 28Nico Reid would beat Daynom Templeman in the final to take his first ever win at a D1NZ event, it’s been a long time coming, and it is incredibly well deserved! Nico is a very talented driver, and his team works very hard to to keep him out on track.

Photo 29After the podium it was time for one of the things the crowd loves most, victory skids. The crowd went absolutely nuts as the top 4 drivers completely destroyed their tyres in celebration. Round 2 was awesome, and it was great to finally see drifting under the lights, the next round of the Demon Energy D1NZ National Drifting Championship kicks off this Friday at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo with a massive 3 days of tyre destruction in conjunction with Zeroclass Drift Matsuri, with Daigo Saito as the guest driver piloting the Toyotaz Galore GT86.