The 2013/2014 D1NZ season kicked off November 16th & 17th at Hampton Downs. I was lucky enough to have some great help in the off season which can be seen in my last post, and that ensured that both myself and the car were both ready to go with no last minute rush jobs! We used the first round as the reveal for our new Achilles Radial Drift Team liveries, which I really like the simplistic look of.
I’ve said it many times before, Hampton is one of the most boring tracks of the season for both drivers and spectators, and at this event it seemed that even the judges were bored by it! With only two judged corners, and limited visibility of those corners, it makes it hard to set yourself apart from the others in the spectators/judges eyes.
I had a pretty relaxed practice day, running some fun practice battles and getting used to the new power the LS2 was churning out thanks to the Sinco exhaust and new heads. Usually I throw huge entries in at Hampton Downs and try to go past 90degrees before the first clip, but the judges said that they wanted to see slower entries with more focus on driving through the corner, so I changed style to suit later in the day to make sure I was hitting the required lines.
Coming in to qualifying I was pretty confident, with feedback from our practice runs being quite good. On my first run I entered as fast as my car was able to go to see if that would achieve a bit more style points, but in doing this I had to ride the brakes slightly longer, netting me with a 67.5 point run. Feedback was that I had to slow down and ensure I drove through the corner. For my second run, I took about 20km/h off of my entry speed and did what I thought was a near perfect run, but the judges saw otherwise, awarding me a 68point run. This landed me in 9th, not bad. After qualifying, I wasn’t entirely sure what they were looking for, but nothing could be done and battles are what really count anyways. I’ve gone over this video of my pass multiple times and am still trying to figure out what would have netted me a further 32 points.
The atmosphere at these events is always great though, and pitwalks have to be one of the highlights. Getting to hang out with everyone and chat to the fans is really cool and keeps us coming back.
Looking at the battle sheet, I was definitely going to need to bring the A game with names like Armstrong, Whiter, and Whittaker all on my side of the tree. First up was Australian driver Prosenik, borrowing one of the locals cars. I ran against him in practice and he seemed like a really good consistent driver, but was just in an underpowered car that was struggling with forward drive. In my lead run I think he couldn’t quite keep up due to the difference in cars, and then in the chase I closed up on him straight away and was able to keep close proximity placing me into the top16. If he ever gets behind a better setup I’m sure he’ll be a contender, or at the custom tracks where power doesn’t matter may have more luck.
The next battle was one that has gone back and forth. Cole Armstrong and I seem to go win for win every time, thankfully this time was my turn! I dove in to early on my chase run, making me run wide up the hill and letting cole grab a slight gap. On the lead though, Cole overshot the entry handing me the win, thanks maaate!
Top8 saw me placed against #1 qualifier and 3x DK Gaz Whiter. I’m familiar with Gaz’s driving, having just battled him at NZ Drift Nats a couple months prior in the top4. I know he is fast now as his car is running huge power and he’s now running the super grippy Achilles 123S Drift tyres. Sitting on the grid I may have made a fatal mistake and lowered the pressures in my rear tires to get some more forward bite against him, even though I had been used to running a higher pressure all day. On the chase, I closed right up on his back bumper in the first turn but as we were switching over the hill the car didn’t flick as hard due to the lower pressures and gave me a really lazy switch. I stayed right on his bumper coming down the hill but the judges gave him a slight advantage I think.
My lead run was much like my first qualifying run. Full speed entry but just washed out a bit up the hill. I managed to pull a gap on Gaz, but in the judges eyes it wasn’t enough and Gaz went through. It was an awesome battle, I really enjoy it when you have clean runs like that with a good driver with good driving style.
I finished the round in 7th overall, with Gaz Whiter 1st, Mike Whiddett 2nd, and Shane van Gisbergen 3rd. As a bonus the car drove on the trailer at the end of the day with absolutely no damage and still running strong. So bring on the next round and some more battles!