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Shane van Gisbergen cuts first sideways laps of Pukekohe Park

  • Written by D1NZ Admin

There were testing times today at Pukekohe Park for Shane van Gisbergen as he got thrown a curveball by the weather in D1NZ practice.
 
The 2016 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship title winner cut his first dry laps around the South Auckland circuit on Friday morning, but quickly had to readapt.
 
This weekend van Gisbergen will contest the final round of the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship where over 60 drivers across the Pro and Pro-Sport field will compete for outright honours.
 
More accustomed to taking Pukekohe Park’s turn one using a traditional racing line, van Gisbergen this weekend will take the corner sideways at high speed. Friday gave the Aucklander his first opportunity to test out the VK56-powered MCA Suspension Nissan 370z.
 
“It was quite a shock to learn the first bit sideways,” van Gisbergen said.
 
“It took a while to build up the speed. The faster you go the easier it gets. Once I got up to 160, 170kph it was pretty cool. We got better and better and stepped the speed up, but we’re nowhere near the top guys yet.”
 
This Nissan 370z van Gisbergen will drive this weekend is prepared by Murray Coote and his son Josh, who occasionally drives the car too. The team are familiar faces in the Australian drifting and time attack scene.
 
In 2015 van Gisbergen drove for the team in their Nissan Silvia S13 at the annual World Time Attack Challenge. Since then he’s moved onto the 370z to drift in New Zealand.
 
Persistent rain in the afternoon meant the 29-year-old had to readjust to the track conditions. It came soon after van Gisbergen began to get into the grove and started to battle with other drivers.
 
“I was feeling more and more confident, but then the rain came so I had to start again. In the rain it was pretty easy, I’ve got way too much power.
 
“In the wet you hardly use 10 or 15 per cent throttle. Whereas in the dry you’re full gas the whole way. It’s a big difference.
 
“Hopefully it’s dry tomorrow and Sunday and we can get back into it again, but it’s slippery, very slippery in the wet. It’s pretty fun but in a battle it’s not the best. Hopefully it dries up when it counts.”
 
Despite the adverse conditions, van Gisbergen spent much of the afternoon completing tandem runs with both Pro and Pro-Sport competitors. It gave him the chance to learn the various lines against fast and slow rivals.
 
That, he said, was the most valuable part in relearning the circuit.
 
“The best thing is just following people and you just learn by following them.
 
“I kept lining up in the chase lane and leaving a big gap to watch what everyone does—good guys and bad. That’s where I learnt the most.”
 
The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship grand final takes place at Pukekohe Park over May 12-13. For more information visit D1NZ.com or NZXMS.co.nz. Tickets are available via iTicket.co.nz.

2018 Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship calendar:
Round 1: Wellington – Max Motors Family Speedway  – 12-13 January
Round 2: Tauranga – ASB Baypark Stadium – 16-17 February 
Round 3: Timaru – Levels Raceway – 9-10 March 
Round 4: Feilding – Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon – 20-21 April
Round 5: Auckland – Pukekohe Park – 12-13 May  

Team 13 duo eying D1NZ Pro Series step up for 2019

  • Written by Brendon White

 

Two of the best Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship Pro-Sport Series front runners are looking to move up.

Points leader Liam Burke is on target to take out his first Pro-Sport Series title this weekend at Pukekohe. He leads the standings by a staggering 81 points over nearest rival Taylor James of Central Drift Team.

Burke is yet to finish outside the top two so far this season. With three second place trophies and a win to his name, Burke is the hot favourite heading to Pukekohe Park this weekend.

The Whangarei drifter said he couldn’t have imagined he’d have so much success in his first proper assault on the series.

“I’ve got four of these damn trophies now, it’s pretty crazy,” he said.

“You’d never think you’d go into the D1NZ Pro-Sport Series and get four podiums finishes.”

Burke is hopeful that he can take out the title this weekend and announce a move up to the Pro Series. However, he knows that the step is a big one to make.

While his Toyota 2JZ-powered Nissan Silvia S13 is a front runner in the Pro-Sport Series, more wild and ambitious builds are taking hold in the leading Pro Series. Just last season fellow Whangarei drifter ‘Fanga’ Dan Woolhouse debuted two Ford Mustang RTRs.

“It’s a huge difference between Pro and Pro-Sport. They’re that next level.

“We definitely want to move to Pro next year. Hopefully I can get a little bit more sponsorship backing, but that’s all down to me to work on.”

Burke said his biggest challenge is not so much improving the set up on his car, but himself as a driver. Qualifying has been key for Burke this year and he’s not often been outside the top five.

“Moving into Pro will push me to do even better. Where the Pro-Sport guys are averaging 60 to 70 qualifying runs on points, the Pro drivers are going anywhere from 70 to 90 points.

“That’s the next stepping stone, but I think when you’re in that class you have to perform and you have to learn to perform, especially when it comes to battles. Honestly it’s down to the driver. We’ll have to step up our game.”

Burke’s teammate Scotty Dinsdale won the last round at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon in April. The final battle saw Burke go head-to-head with his Team 13 stablemate, the first time they’ve ever battled in a final together.

Dinsdale currently sits third in the points order just ahead of former title contender Jordy Cole, who failed to qualify in the fourth round due to a mechanical failure.

Following a spate of mechanical gremlins and a crash early in the season, Dinsdale said the move up might hinge on how he goes at Pukekohe.

“Because we haven’t been super consistent with the car changing just about every round, we want to move up to Pro but that’s dependent on how we go at Pukekohe,” Dinsdale said.

“We really want to go to Pro because that’s where we’re aiming. We’ll see how we go.”

Burke said he’s confident his teammate could be competitive in Pro competition despite any doubts Dinsdale might have.

“He actually said to me the other day ‘I might do another season of Pro-Sport’, but he’s got the skills. He’s just as ready as I am.

“It would be cool if we both moved up as a team to Pro. Obviously from this event he’s definitely a contender. He’s smashed it.”

The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship concludes at Auckland’s Pukekohe Park over May 12-13. For more information visit D1NZ.com, tickets are available via iTicket.co.nz.

Shane van Gisbergen to take 200kph turn sideways

  • Written by D1NZ Admin

A Bathurst 12 Hour winner, Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champion, and Virgin Australia Supercars Championship title winner—Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen is well versed in the world of motor racing. It is perhaps a bit of a surprise that the 28-year-old isn’t so fond of his next big challenge.

There are corners all around the globe that require drivers to pull their belts just that little bit tighter on approach. Taking ‘The Chase’ at 300kph around Mount Panorama for 161 laps is standard issue for van Gisbergen, but taking turn one at Pukekohe Park sideways at 200kph is going to be a whole new task to tackle.

This weekend the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship rolls into Auckland for the grand finale. Pukekohe Park plays host to the D1NZ Pro and Pro-Sport Series where drifters will try to get upwards of 200kph sideways in their purpose-built drift weapons.

When van Gisbergen was confirmed to join the series for selected rounds of the 2018 calendar, there was one that stood out for him.

“I told Brendon White (D1NZ Category Manager) a few times I wasn’t interested in Pukekohe, it’s sort of too fast,” van Gisbergen said.

“Driving into that corner and going sideways on purpose at 200kph is going to be a bit of a shock to the system I think. It’ll be pretty awesome, I’m looking forward to that one.”

On his return to the series at ASB Baypark Stadium in Tauranga, van Gisbergen experienced the highs and lows of drifting competition. On his first run the Supercars veteran lay down an impressive score, notable given he’d not even practiced on Friday and only arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning.

He went on to battle reigning champion and good friend Cole Armstrong. The V Energy-backed drifter got the better of van Gisbergen in the top-16 battle, but it was a close call that only just saw Armstrong go through.

He’s been away from the drifting scene for several years, instead focusing on drives in the Supercars Championship with leading outfit Red Bull Holden Racing Team. Among other drives in Europe and North America, van Gisbergen hasn’t had the time to drift. With calendar clashes this year in the IMSA and Blancpain GT Series, it opened a door for his return home.

The drifting scene is in stark contrast to the circuit racing world in which he resides. However, it’s a refreshing return with comradery so prevalent in the drifting series.

“That’s the best thing about drifting, everyone gets along and everyone encourages each other so much. We saw that at Wellington when people were crashing and the drivers who they crashed with were helping them.

“That doesn’t happen in many other sports. Drifting with all those guys that I used to look up to, Gaz Whiter and Cole Armstrong and ‘Fanga’ Dan, it’s pretty awesome that they’re still in there. Hopefully I can jump back in an have a play with them. It’s been a few years!”

The Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship final takes place at Pukekohe Park over May 12-13. For more information visit D1NZ.com. Tickets are available via iTicket.co.nz