Wet and dreary was the start of Saturday practice for everyone who turned up to the Mike Pero Motorsport park in Christchurch. Wind chill was unpleasant but more so than not was the looming rain heading over for Sunday.
Everyone none the less tottered along for scrutineering and car prep before tearing up the track to get their angles and clipping points sorted. Mike Pero track layout was beautiful, with some lovely linked turns that lead ultimately to the cambered, sunken final sweeper that provided plenty of smoke with brilliant close chases. Saturday practice was brilliant with the weather clearing allowing the guys to get out and push their cars to the edge. Some accidents did happen sadly, with one highlighting why Motorsports have such strict rules. Two perfect cars (a AE86 and a beautiful S13) colliding after the S13 driver spun out and the AE86 was unable to stop, the impact was a very solid hit as the AE86 with speed came to an abrupt halt on the rear of the S13. After walking over to view the towed cars in the pit area it was clear to see the reason for roll cages. Aside from the cosmetic damage, the door was pushed inwards toward the driver and only stopped due to the cage being in the way, had the roll cage not been present the door would have no doubt crumpled further which may have injured the driver.
While some accidents happen, majority of the trouble was with people getting their angles wrong and using up some of the run off area, the Australian drivers took a few laps to get used to the layout but once sorted, they wasted no time showing off some trans Tasman style! A 350Z with a pair of sizable turbos sticking out of the bonnet, a pair of immaculate S15/180SX’s, a throaty FD RX7 and a few S14’s with big power proved an attraction when they went out, bringing with them clouds of smoke and noise. Local D1NZ drivers put on brilliant practice runs as well, with most proving why they belong along the best in the drifting scene.
Sunday was D day with the qualifying laps all sorted for the battles. Top 32 which went down to top 16 and top 8 saw many of the familiar faces make it through to the tightly contested battles while some who showed amazing skills on Saturday just had a string of bad luck and bowed out early. Jodie, Drew, David and a few others exited after the top 32 with some wide runs and close calls, Daniel Woolhouse had to bow out due to snapping the drive shaft and not being able to replace it which set Nico Reid, Brad Smith, Curt Whittaker and Joel Counter into the final battles. All final battles are tight but this track allowed very close proximity with a slower sweeper at the end that caught some people out. Nico Reid drove strongly the whole contest and eventuated into the finals against Curt Whittaker in which saw Nico emerge victorious yet again taking him into the lead for the final event at Pukekohe.
Lastly before the day ended was the trans Tasman drift battles where both Australian and New Zealand drivers squared off to settle some points. Battles were great with everyone pushing hard to keep the clipping points on their rear bumpers, Australian drivers Cameron Mote, Scott Schembri, Robert Arbolino and James Abbot all placed well on the score boards while the rest of the top spots were held by the New Zealand contingent. Cameron and his mighty twin turbo 350Z need a new motor to ensure they will be ready for the grand final at Pukekohe, all Australian drivers attending have made these events much more diverse which I believe is key to keeping the sport alive in a smaller country, so a massive thank you to them for coming down with limited supplies and pushing as hard as they would for their own home country.
very excited to see the final at Pukekohe with the fastest entry speeds in New Zealand.
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