Bay of Plenty’s drifters have failed to capitalise on their home track at the D1NZ National Drifting Championship with Auckland’s Andrew Redward claiming the title in a thrilling battle at ASB Baypark.
With Tauranga’s Cole Armstrong failing to qualify, and both Drew Donovan and Jodie Verhulst making early exits, Redward took his chance winning round three of the series from ’Mad Mike’ Whiddett.
Andrew Redward at the Cody’s D1NZ National Drifting Championship at ASB Baypark. Photo: Fast Company/Erron Soon.
The win pushes Redward up to fifth, just half a point behind fourth placed 2011/12 Cody’s D1NZ champ Curt Whittaker and one behind third placed series young gun Nico Reid – after shoulder surgery forced Reward to sit out round two.
Whiddett, now with a win and two seconds from the first three rounds, has a 77.5 point lead over three-time former D1NZ champion Gary ’Gaz’ Whiter.
With Armstrong failing to qualify, Whiter and Zak Pole forced to borrow cars to qualify after gearbox or engine issues with their own, and both V8 Supercar ace Shane Van Gisbergen and Sky Zhoa left stranded by broken clutches, several drivers – Redward amongst them – had byes in the Top 32 run of battles.
Redward then battled and bested Donovan in the Top 16, Australian driver Michael Prosenik in the Top Eight and Reid for a spot alongside top qualifier Whiddett in the final.
A year ago - to the day - Redward had been in a similar position, going into the final battle with Whangarei’s ’Fanga Dan’ Woolhouse only to spin out, gifting the round win to Woolhouse.
“I made some silly mistakes last year because I got too keen. This year I applied a much more measured approach and it was great to actually put it all together and get the result I missed out on last time we were here,” says Redward.
The tight confines and concrete barriers which line the drift section of the temporary course in the ASB Baypark car park exacted a heavy toll with a number of cars - yet others were left without a scratch.
Some drivers also stepping up were Redward’s teammate, Hamilton driver Bruce Tannock and Tauranga tyre shop proprietor Aden Omnet.
Though qualifying in 22nd, Tannock was a revelation in his battles, dispatching 2011/12 Cody’s D1NZ champion Curt Whittaker in the Top 16 before forcing Reid to go One More Time before the judges could decide in their Top Eight encounter.
"After hitting the wall last year here I was a bit hesitant - and looking back a bit too soft - in practice this weekend but once I got into the battles, when there was another car in front of me, " says Tannock.
“My mindset changed and it was make or break."
Best of the Bay drivers was Omnet, who - after qualifying eighth - beat fellow ’Bay identity Verhulst in the Top 32 and Aucklander Adam Hedges in the Top 16 before finally going down to Whiddett in the Top Eight, leaving him sixth equal overall for the round.
This year’s Cody’s D1NZ event was run in conjunction with a new NZ Allstars action sports festival which included FMX, Freestyle BMX and Skate and Scooter competitions run concurrently.
In the FMX section the Best Trick prize was shared by Australian visitor Truman Carroll and Kiwi international Nick Franklin while the Pro-Am comp was won by Palmerston North rider Jason White from Stuart Ewing from Gore and Dunedin’s Jesse Dobias.