Cody's D1NZ Drifting Championship Series - Round 5 Highlights - Ruakaka, Whangarei 2012
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Highlights from Round 5 of the Cody's D1NZ National Drifting Championship Series from the exclusive Ruakaka street course in Whangarei, New Zealand.
For the first time since 2009 the D1NZ Series returned to the streets of Northland, home to the infamous Team Driftcorp who have 6 D1NZ Championships to their name and a rich history with New Zealand Drifting. As such, the local fans swarmed at the opportunity to meet their favorite drivers including 2006 Drift King Fanga Dan, current 3x defending champion Gaz Whiter, and new young gun Robee Nelson.
This was the penultimate round, the Top 5 Championship contenders were all visibly nervous and reluctant to talk about points and the title chase, most if not all had their mind set on winning the weekend and it reflected in some of the closest Top16 battles of the season, the Grand Final at Hampton downs is sure to be a spectacular finale!
In practice plenty of carnage had accumulated in pitlane, most notably 2 of the main title contenders, Cole Armstrong suffering 2 gearbox failures and Curt Whittaker, the points leader, blowing an engine just before qualifying with a fist sized hole through the 2JZ power-plant of his newly sponsored Team Dilusi R34 Skyline. Curt would step into a borrowed car (D1Pro-Am Cam Vernon) at an attempt to hold on to as many points as possible ahead of the final round.
While championship dramas were the talk of pitlane, Mad Mike had his head down and focused - qualifying first with hometown favorite Fanga Dan in second, with young gun Darren Benjamin in third, further proving himself in the D1-Pro class.
The Top16 got underway with Curt Whittaker paired up along side Niko Reid in one of the most entertaining battles of the day, the pair were so closely matched that OMT was called not once, twice, but 3 times until the wildchild in the Luxury Sports S15 progressed through over Whittaker who drove his best in an under-powered Pro-Am car.
With gearbox troubles still hampering the V Energy R34, Cole Armstrong and the team would rebuild a new gearbox during the lunchbreak just in time for the Top16, only to spin against Darren Benjamin in the chase, Benjamin progressing through Top8 falling victim to a now hard charging Niko Reid who was right at home with his street driving style despite another OMT.
The Top 4 would eventually feature Fanga Dan, Gaz Whiter, Mad Mike and Niko Reid, a collection of popular drivers sure to rub panels for the modest Whangarei crowd who braved the rain throughout the day.
A controversial battle between Mad Mike and Gaz Whiter went OMT, while Fanga Dan progressed over Niko Reid for a spot in the final. Gaz fell to Mike during the OMT, regardless of any controversy Mad Mike would continue on into the final which was set to be a classic battle of friendly rivals.
The hometown hero, Fanga Dan in the Castrol Edge Commodore was out with nothing to loose and was chasing down the top step of the podium in front of a vocal home crowd. Mad Mike however was a man on a mission, determined to join the ranks as a D1NZ Champion.
The MadBull RX7 would scream and spit flames on the lead run opening up a small gap from Fanga Dan who would struggle ever so slightly with the right transmission setup in the big V8. In true D1NZ fashion the battle would go OMT and despite an even more refined chase and lead run from both drivers it was almost a carbon copy with Mike opening the gap just enough to seal the win over Fanga Dan!
Gaz Whiter would finish 3rd with Niko Reid claming his best result of his debut D1-Pro season in 4th - Mad Mike celebrated in style with his right foot out the window of the Red Bull RX7 during his victory burnout.
A fascinating round in the heart of Northland that is sure to return, a round that now see's Fanga Dan sit 4th on the points, a dark horse for the title - if anyone is out to spoil the party Dan's wild lock to lock driving style could bring change to the Championship chase into Hampton Downs for the Grand Final. Mad Mike however is seriously determined to earn his stripes and the respect that comes with it. With more than 5 drivers in with a shot, anything can happen!!
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